The tradition of raising flags at 8:00am and lowering them at sunset dates all the way back to the late 1700s in the British Royal Navy. It is still practiced by today’s navy, as well as many merchant and private vessels around the world. The Schooner J. & E. Riggin is no exception.
We fly an ensign, which in our case as a U.S.-flagged vessel, is the American flag. This is flown off of the peak of our mainsail when it is set, or off of the back of the main boom when the sail is down. It is used to communicate to other vessels where our vessel is registered. It is the first flag up each day, and the last one down.
The name pennant is flown from the top of the mainmast to give everyone who sees us the ability to read our name clearly.
The house flag is flown at the top of our foremast this is intended to communicate something about the ownership, but until we have a house flag designed, we have decided to use the classic State of Maine Dirigo flag.
The final flag you can expect to see aboard the Riggin is the “R” or Romeo flag and the First Repeater. We use this combination on the main spreader to communicate the presence of a Riggin Relic aboard a cruise.
This week we saw the first of many raising of the ship’s colors for the 2021 season. Though historically greeted with the call of a bugle, ours was greeted with excitement and cheers from the crew.
After nearly a year of sitting stationary, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin left the dock yesterday under the direction of her new captains, Justin Schaefer & Jocelyn Schmidt. She was bound for North End Shipyard, for her annual haul out. The crew relished in the cool spring breeze on their faces, something they all had missed in their time away.
“It would have been powerful to take her off the dock for the first time regardless of whether or not she had sailed last year.” Jocelyn said. “There was something exceptionally powerful about getting to be the ones to take her out, even just for the short run to the shipyard knowing that it was the first time in a year she had had the chance to stretch her legs. It feels like the start of a really special summer, and the reality of being able to have a season this year is pretty emotional for us.”
This haul-out will be brief, just to put fresh paint on the bottom and replace the zincs which protect the metal beneath the water from electrolysis.
“It feels good to be back out on the water and to return to a familiar routine with the vessel after a year of lying dormant,” said Captain Schaefer. “Generations of Riggin crew spanning several seasons came out to offer their collective support & wisdom which made for an extremely special day.”
Every Race Week is special, but this year’s was one for the books. The captains decided the course in the morning at the traditional captain’s meeting. Even as we started the race at the sound of the cannon, we were at the head of the pack. After a full day of tacking and strategizing, we were on the last leg and just under the hills of Rockport off Indian Head Light. The sky was clear and the wind had died to a whiff, and we were all yearning for the forecast 15 knots. We’d had moments of excitement throughout the day, but they’d come and gone as the wind eased. With only two vessels in front of us, we saw wind begin to skim the surface of the water. Seconds later, the vessels ahead of us began to heal and then heal hard. And the wind was upon us. The Riggin gently healed over and when the physics of her majestic sails began to dominate, she started to move forward and pick up speed. The wind drove her with such purpose as we went from a relaxed, everyday sail to a thrilling chase that had us pulling ahead of one of the two vessels. With all of us cheering her on the Riggin finished 2nd in her class and overall! What a moment!
Photos by Susan Land (guest extraordinaire and long time Riggin Relic)
Winter finally arrived with gusto this month, heralded by snow and record low temperatures. While it may be the down season that doesn’t mean it’s down time for us. When the forecast calls for snow and high winds, some of us head to the store for the “bread and milk”, while Captain Jon heads to the schooners (the Riggin
and the Timberwind
) to check on lines and bubblers (so the ice doesn’t freeze to the hull).
We are happy to have Erin back from her cross country adventure with Chives (who is back home in Texas) to help out in the barn this winter. Lots of smaller projects to be done before we go sailing just six months from now.
And Captain Jon is getting ready to start projects on the boat now that the holidays are over. His trusty woodstove is in place to give a bit of extra warmth.