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.”
Signs of spring are happening, and by that we mean it’s haulout time, where for a few days the Riggin is pulled out of the water which allows access to the whole hull. This is the time to inspect the hull; wash and paint the bottom; and change the zincs. Routine maintenance is also coupled with tending to anything that needs mending or replacing under the water line while we have access to these spots. The shipyard can be a satisfying time because it really starts to feel as if we truly will be sailing soon. It’s also a time when stories are made – like the year we shoveled snow off the rail way before hauling in mid-April (and that wasn’t this year!). And doing projects late into the night by the light of the truck headlights to get off the railway as quickly as possible.
The Riggin is now back in the water – bottom painted and inspected, hull sanded and partially painted, and a couple of little things taken care of under the water. Now she waits for a couple of coats of paint and her sails to go on so that she can once again sail Penobscot Bay with all of us.
The Timberwind, our other vessel, is in Belfast not Rockland. She came out of the water yesterday in a completely different way. Front Street Shipyard, instead of a railway, uses a large travel lift which picks her up out of the water and transfers her to the yard where she rests with a number of other large vessels. She is supported “on the hard” with jack stands placed strategically all around her hull. You’ll see from the photo that the foremast is un-stepped. We’ll work on the top part of the foremast, an area tough to get to while it’s in place, replace the servings around the shrouds and be ready for the mast to be stepped right after the boat goes back into the water later this week.
When both are back in the water, we’ll be that much closer to sailing with you all!
Schooner J. & E. Riggin
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