May 1, 2016 Adventure, History, Sailing, York River

Sailing the USS Constitution

Oak Knees

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.

Sailing the USS ConstitutionKent 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 knees were taken to New England to use in reconstructing the hull of the Constitution.”

https://williamsburgchartersails.com/#!ratesSo 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!”

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