Thursday, February 24, 2011

Breaking the Back of Winter

A New England weatherman said that we may “break winter’s back” this coming week as we will soon enter the month of March – but as anyone who lives here knows, breaking winter’s back means mud, rain, and a raw spring. Or, to put it best, this month of March comes “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Anyway, bring it on, as these shipwrights have been working outside all winter long  often starting around 7:30 a.m. – with two breaks each day at 10 a.m. and noon. The Burnham house has a small ship’s bell outside the door and at those times, the bell is rung. At 10 a.m. when the bell rings Harold yells “Mug Up" which to us means a coffee break…The dictionary definition of Mug Up is “to study intensely for an exam” but on Cape Ann it means to have a coffee break and is a favored expression among shipwrights and sailors and those still lucky enough to get a coffee break. It may have other meanings, too, and it is sometimes said in the terms of "let's have a Mug Up over it" and is a way of conversing and settling an issue. Over Mug Up here,  the shipwrights get to hear some good Newfoundland stories from Bernie Power or learn about his home in Prince Edward Island, sometimes the conversation drifts towards snowmobiling stories and then to skiing and snowboarding and over to the Caribbean and some characters there and Ireland and the Dalmatian Coast or we talk about making chowder but mostly it is just about friendship and conversation - which as New Englanders say -  is "the finest kind."

A plank goes on the bow

Time Walsh inside the boat wedging the trunnels

Harold gets ready to pull out a plank from the steam box.

A view of the stern

The Mug Up this past Saturday brought a good group of people by the yard and some stayed as long as they could stand the cold. As mud season approaches we still have a bit of high ground so people can spend a little more time here. We have also been hearing from some younger shipwrights who would like to come and work here. It would be great to meet all of you…and over a Mug Up we can tell you more about the set up. We are so lucky to have so many great and talented people helping us and thank to all!

Harold, Geoffrey Richon and Tim Walsh

The sea beckons!  Thank you Dan Tobyne for all the great photos!