Current status of Virginia

December 2023

Virginia on Sheepscot with tarp

Virginia is again in Wiscasset and under the cover of some tarps for the winter. We learned from last year and hopefully the tarp is able to survive any high winds. Virginia is fully down-rigged except for the main mast. The tarps are translucent so it stays light on the deck. It is sort of like having Virginia in the boat shed again, except the ceiling is a lot lower.

This year we can show on the dock sign what Virginia looks like in full sail.

At the Bath Freight Shed, most of the spars and all of the rigging is inside as decoration for the farmers market. The wharf, including the new stiff arm, is resting on shore.

The main work for the winter is below deck completing the various items needed for a full Coast Guard inspection. This includes installing the second head and completing the electrical plan.

We also need to completely re-caulk the deck as a lot of water leeks into the hold. There is a leak in the engine compartment along the drive shaft which needs to be fixed, but will need to wait until we lift Virginia out of the water for inspection and some repairs. This will most likely be done in the spring.

There will not be much news during the winter.

Inside the cover
Like the boat shed, but not as high
Farmers market with hanging rigging

November 2023

Arriving in Wiscasset for a second time
Taking down the main sprit
Taking down the top mast
Bringing in the floats
Wharf in winter mode
Stiff arm on shore waiting for Virginia's return

October 2023

September 2023

August 2023

July 2023

Virginia Sailing on Kennebec
Virginia at Popham - Gary Smith

June 2023

Virginia at Boothbay

Virginia is sailing!

Virginia started off June at the Maine Maritime Museum as her wharf is not yet done. We have just a short time to complete the rigging and get in some sail training as we are sailing to Boothbay for Windjammer Days on June 25.  Hopefully, this does mean sailing.

On June 5th, the last of the concrete is poured, but it will be a week before it is cured enough to hold the wharf in place. On June 7th, the stiff arm was delivered, and on June 11th, the wharf was installed, ending the saga that started at the beginning of February when the ice took down the south dolphin. 

Virginia returned to her wharf mid-June with just 10 days for sail training for the crew before leaving for Windjammer Days in Boothbay Harbour Maine. It was a foggy day on the Kennebec when Virginia left for Boothbay. Although much of the trip was done using the engine, it was a chance to try out the sails whenever possible, and sometimes to run only with sail power. So for the first time, Virginia was really sailing.

This was our chance to get those nice pictures of sailing under full sail. However, it was foggy for the entire time in Boothbay. Virginia did stand out from the crowd of tall ships, as she was alone in having tanbark sails and her distinctive chevron bulwarks. In comparison, the other tall ships just faded into the fog. 



Virginia returns - Troy Watson
Virginia fully rigged
Virginia's sailors
Virginia docked in Boothbay
Virginia in the fog
At Boothbay - Russ Bolt

May 2023

Virgina at the Maine Maritime Museum - Troy Watson

The sailing season is soon approaching, but Virginia’s wharf at the freight shed is not yet ready, so our friends at the Maine Maritime Museum (just down the river 1.5 miles) kindly allowed us to use their wharf for a month. While there we installed the running rigging, most of it for the first time.

Like the trip to Wiscasset, this transit was mostly done using the engine, but we had one sail available, the bowsprit sail. While Virginia made her way up the Kennebec River, she sailed for the first time.

Meanwhile, at the freight shed, we laid the concrete for the base of the footers. On the very last day of May, we placed the cylinders and installed the attachment hardware. Virginia was not going to make it back to Bath for the anniversary of the launch.

Virginia arrives in Bath, but not the freight shed
First concrete pour for footers
Place footer cylinders

April 2023

Finishing the sweeps

Over the winter, work on the sweeps (oars) continued inside and outside the freight shed. The sweeps are the tertiary propulsion for Virginia (after sails and the engine).

After multiple meetings to design the replacement for this missing wharf support, the selected design was to replace the dolphin with a strong arm connected to three footers on the shore. The arm is connected to one of the footers, and the other two hold guy wires. We then needed to get approval from the state and city, and have the arm fabricated. We had half a dozen engineers including naval architects, dock designers, and structural engineers agree and sign off on the design. The goal is to have Virginia back at the freight shed on June 4 for the anniversary of the launch.

The three footers will be mostly underground, which is complicated by the fact that they are thus below the high tide level. We dug the holes and put in frames for the concrete, but within hours the forms were underwater. We need multiple concrete pours timed for the tides, and with time between them for the concrete to cure before Virginia can return.

Meanwhile, in Wiscasset, we took down the tarps and frame covering Virginia and re-installed the standing rigging. As some of the spars were stored in Bath, we had to drive them the 18 miles to Wiscasset.

On a still cool day in April, we held a demonstration of 17th century foodways, and brought the shallop Jane Stevens out from her winter storage. Although we mostly row Jane, we dressed her for this event in full sail. 

First steps in replacing wharf support
Moving main spar - quixote style
Jane with sails at 17th century foodways

February 2023

Wharf broken by ice

On February 3, 2023, Bath saw the coldest temperatures in over 30 years with an overnight temperature of -17F, and a wind chill of about -50. The Kennebec River at Bath froze for the first time since the 1980s. The following day the current of the river broke up the ice, and one of Virginia’s wharf supports was taken down by the ice as it moved.

It is because of this kind of weather that we move Virginia away from the Kennebec River and take in the wharf each year, but the supports in the river are at the mercy of the river. Virginia in Wiscasset was not damaged as the Sheepscot River has almost the full salinity of the ocean.

In the following weeks, we started an investigation of what sort of replacement we could install and its cost and schedule. It soon became clear that we would need to do some fundraising and delay the arrival of Virginia back at her wharf.

January 2023

Virginia on Sheepscot with tarp

Virginia is in Wiscasset under the cover of some tarps for the winter. The mizzen mast was taken down and a frame erected which allows workers onto the deck and below the deck. The tarps are translucent so it stays light on the deck.

The main work for the winter is below deck installing plumbing and crew quarters, and installing (and hiding) 21st century electronics. 

The Wiscasset Town Dock flooded the same days as in Bath, but with a lot less current. Virginia rode out the storm fine, and the only casualty was one of the rails holding a line to Virginia. Following the flooding in Bath, the Kennebec River was full of ice flows. They were much smaller that those in the spring, but it reminded us why Virginia is wintering on the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset.

On December 23 we had a combined spring tide, a couple of feet of storm surge, and a lot of water coming down the river to create a major flood in the boatyard. It again flooded on Christmas Eve. A lot of our wood pile was moved around and lost a few pieces of wood, but then a couple of trees drifted into the boatyard, and a large amount of marsh straw. Our floats stored for the winter floated around, but the rope they were tied down with stopped them from entering the river. The dock in Wiscasset also flooded, but the current is a lot less there. As it is winter, a lot of the marsh grass and moved wooden blocks froze in their new location, but our valient clean-up crewe got it back to being presentable.

There will not be much news during the winter, but come spring we hope to have images of Virginia with blue skies, blue water, and red sails.

Boatyard flooded
Floats floating in boatyard
Reflection in Sheepscot of tarped Virginia