There is a lot of effort going on behind the scenes to make sure our RELIANCE is accurate. Boats, especially race boats, change during the season. We chose late August as our configuration date, when RELIANCE was measured and raced for the Cup, since this timeframe is when we had the best pictures. Ours has been a constant battle for configuration management. For example, NGH’s approved drawing 86-126 (from MIT Hart Collection) shows the original placement of three topmast backstay staples and a trysail staple as shown in picture #1 and as placed on our model as in picture #2. Our visit to the NYYC in NYC last Spring to see their model showed a discrepancy which was confirmed in picture #3 as blown up in #4. Our metal casting expert, Mike Mirman, then used this picture to created a new fitting, shown in #5.
Though we’re closed for the season, we do have visitors who stop by and brighten our day. Here one youngster wanted to see what it was like to truly be on deck of RELIANCE. His curiosity extended to below deck as well. Hmm, maybe he can fit into those tight spaces at each end to hold the nuts and washers in-place while we tighten down all the fittings in place on deck. All we need to do is attach a lanyard to his ankle to haul him out…
We seem to get around to posting a blog about the support we get from the museum staff and interns about the time they depart – got to change that! For many of you Maggie has been the “face” of the Museum. For us she has been our happy face and our most helpful face – the “can do” woman. Still don’t know how we’ll ever replace her in our hearts. But she’s gone off to a big city Boston to pursue her dreams and we wish her well. At least she didn’t desert us for the evil empire… In a small corner of our heart we hope she’ll soon find out that bigger isn’t better and that we’ll see her again…
I remain amazed that RELIANCE and crew tell us when to speed up and when to slow down. I’ve been pushing to get going on laying the cork deck on RELIANCE, but she kept telling us it wasn’t time and our volunteers seemed to have other plans keeping them occupied at home. So our focus shifted to other urgent RELIANCE matters.
With great fanfare we were to have started “corking” on Tuesday. But on Monday Dyer Jones took me to the New York Yacht Club to see the Club’s RELIANCE model so we could put the question of RELIANCE hull, deck and spar colors to bed once and for all. The lads wanted to know what to paint the cork once it was laid. (Hah! – a paint story for another day- more confused than ever)
While there I visited their library and found a huge scrapbook of RELIANCE and the 1903 Cup series. I quickly scanned through hundreds of articles, finding one about her launching. At the very, very end of a one page article in THE SUN dated April 12, 1903 I found notation of canvas laid over her aluminum deck. It simply couldn’t be that we were about to embark the next day on laying the wrong material on deck?
After a sleepless night I told the crew Tuesday morning that we needed to do some more research, and I put out an international email to experts for what they knew. Some replied with articles supporting cork solutions, even one specifying 1/8 inch thick cork. But Claas van der Linde sent two very compelling articles supporting canvas and our Roger Williams University intern Chris Vitale found a June 1903 article by W.P. Stevens in “The Rudder” magazine confirming canvas.
It isn’t that we hadn’t done our research. We had spent significant time and had found a number of published sources pointing to towards cork. RELIANCE knew it just wasn’t time….
Though we are dealing with archives and history more than a century old (and I now have a much greater appreciation for the trials of classic yacht restorers) we are in fact dealing with very modern day problems of accurate documentation. The more things change, the more they stay the same, for example: – Newspaper, magazine and TV reporters getting the scoop with the latest “quoting well-placed sources” – Secretive misinformation placed by “sources’ – Urban legends – Expert testimonies – Oral histories and testimonies of long ago events