Bluenose Canadian Schooner

Planning the Masts

May 19, 2017

Day 413.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working up to starting on the masts.  The masts are the last major phase of “construction” before rigging all the lines.

The Bluenose has two masts, three booms, and two gaffs.  Masts are the tall vertical ‘poles’ that rise up above the ship.  Booms are horizontal, coming out from the masts down near the deck.  Gaffs are also horizontal, but are hung high up on the masts.


Obviously I’ll need to start with the masts before working on the booms and gaffs, since the booms and gaffs are rigged to masts.

The masts are not that complicated, but there are a number of pieces and details.  There is a lot of rigging, both lines and hardware, that will be attached to the masts, so getting everything built correctly is critical.  If I miss a band, or install something in the wrong place, it could cause major problems when I start running rigging lines.

So, I decided that the best thing to do was to get my head around all the rigging on the masts and understand how each part on the mast was used.

I started by building up my own drawing of the fore mast using the plans as a guide.  For each part that goes on the fore mast, I dug through the plans to find out exactly how that piece was used.  I used a simple 3D modeling tool to work out how the pieces were constructed.


I tried to figure out all the details.  For example, the lower masts are tapered, but only on three sides.  The fore side of the masts is left straight.  Also, I’ll need to install the mast hoops on the lower masts before I put the trestle tree on, or I won’t be able to slip them on.  Yay…details.

With the basic mast construction figured out, I decided to go ahead and map out all the rigging that attaches to the fore mast.  This will ensure that I understand every part on the mast and that I’m not missing anything.  Mapping out the rigging was a pretty involved process.  I used a similar diagraming approach to what I did for the bowsprit, but a little more refined.


With my drawings complete, and a good understanding of the fore mast, my plan was to dive into building the fore mast, then move on to the main mast.  However, I ended up deciding to build the fore and main masts at the same time.

While reviewing the plans and working up my diagrams, I noticed that in many, many places, the two masts were nearly identical.  The plans often only illustrated the details on one, and said the other was ‘identical except as noted.’  So, I’m going to be doing a lot of things twice.  I think it makes more sense to work on them both the same time.

So, I went head and worked up the drawings for the main mast as well.


The main mast’s construction is nearly identical.  The differences:

I also worked up the rigging, which is similar in some places, but generally a lot less complicated.


Now I’m ready to begin working on the masts.  My plan is:

  1. Cut, size and taper the lower and top sections for both the fore and main mast.
  2. Build the various parts for the lower masts, working from the bottom up. The fore and main masts will be worked on simultaneously.
  3. Finish out the top mast details.
  4. Install all the hardware and rope for the standing rigging (shrouds, stays, etc)
  5. Install the hardware for the running rigging.  (The rope for the running rigging will be left for later.)
  6. Work on the booms.
  7. Work on the gaffs.
  8. Install everything on the ship, attaching all the standing rigging.
  9. Install the running rigging.