Sailing the Constitution
Three experienced sailing couples went out on the York River and got to run three tacks of an asymmetrical spinnaker off the bow. As we neared the mouth of the river, I recounted the blockade that the French fleet executed of the Chesapeake Bay and the York in September 1781.
Lord Earl Cornwallis looked out from Yorktown and could see four man o’war ships in the distance. He knew they weren’t American ships, since Benedict Arnold had destroyed the Virginia Navy in 1777 and the United States was reduced to one ship, the USS Constitution, still under construction in Boston.
Kent Buzard picked up an intriguing theme. “They used live oaks to do the restoration of the Constitution. Near Kiawah Island in South Carolina where we have a place, the highway department was widening the road and trying to avoid taking out any live oaks.
The few they cut down were carefully hewn to preserve the ‘knees’ where the big branches meeting the trunk. Those oak knees were taken to New England to use in reconstructing the hull of the Constitution.” USS Constitution is unique as the only surviving frigate among six built in the early 1800s as the US Navy’s first warships. It still sails today! Check out the video below.
So instead of attaching hull planks to the ribs, they were intact by virtue of nature. His pal Jack Baron piped up, “It was the first knee replacement!”
After living in Iowa, Matt and Rhonda Spaulding were glad to move to Williamsburg and get back to the water. They took their son and his fiancé out on the York River on a brilliant day in steady breezes.
Matt used to sell Cape Dorys and later moved into boat insurance. “They used to drill us on the features and benefits of the Cape Dory over Hunter and Catalina, but this is nice.” He was referring to running the Hunter 320. “It trims very well and turns on a dime. The Cape Dory sailed slower because of the full keel, but it sailed well once it got going.” They once lived in Maryland, where they once sailed from Annapolis across Chesapeake Bay to St. Michaels. Rhonda recalled that experience and savored this one. “It’s just wonderful to be out here. I love it.”
Let’s Go Sailing the Constitution
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Sailing the Constitution
Sailing the Constitution explains how live oaks in South Carolina were carved the "knees" of the hull. Let's go sail.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails / Let's Go Sail