We recently arranged a visit to the spar loft at Rockport Marine in Rockport to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. The greeting we got from the crew was professional yet terse, but that didn’t surprise us. "Don't touch that spar, we've just finished the last coat! In fact, please don’t touch anything," they warned. Few boat yards can boast of such an amazing spar loft, a huge room filled with wooden masts and booms of beauty. Each stick that overwinters here is not only functional and gorgeous, but also unique in look and character, and we knew these craftsmen just wanted to keep them that way.
Each year, Rockport Marine stores the spars for more than 40 boats. The yard specializes in the care and feeding of traditional wooden yachts, so the boats they store are mostly of a traditional bent. It follows that these boats have decidedly old-school wooden spars that need annual TLC to look and function at their very best. The crew in the spar loft takes this charge seriously: they are masters at hand sanding, varnishing, polishing, and rigging (true?). On top of that, the system they have worked out for keeping each yacht’s rig and rigging organized and shipshape is a thing of wonder to those of us whose desks are piled high with paper and garages that bulge with “stuff.”
Much of the hardware shown here normally resides 30-90ft. up in the air, well out of sight, yet almost all of it was custom-made for each rig. Regardless of whether it will be seen by the average sailor or not, all of it gets the same level of attention from the crew.
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