Replacing the Schooner Maple Leaf’s Bowsprit
In 2014, we replaced one of the Maple Leaf’s most recognizable attributes: her beautiful bowsprit.
What’s a Bowsprit?
The bowsprit (aka that long pointy bit on the bow of the ship) is like a third mast. It is made of strong, clear Douglas fir wood. The metal stays that help hold the foremast and main mast in place are attached to the bowsprit, and both the jib and the staysail are rigged to the bowsprit. That’s its technical purpose.
But Maple Leaf’s guests also know the bowsprit as one of the most exciting parts of the ship to visit. Walking or sitting out on the bowsprit lets you ‘fly’ over the ocean in front of the ship – an incredibly stimulating experience. Sometimes thousands of tiny moon jellies pass under you in the water below. Sometimes there are porpoises or dolphins.
Every few decades, the bowsprit needs to be replaced. Replacing it is not just about calling up the hardware store and ordering one. As anything with classic wooden ships, it all starts with the tree — and a very skilled shipwright who has trained for years to turn the wood from that tree into a very specific shape for a bowsprit.
Here is the story of replacing Maple Leaf’s bowsprit, in photos.