Ancient Chinese rigging materials for Vega’s Main Yard

For some time now we have been struggling along with our old yard. It has broken once and been spliced to the point it was to heavy for even three men to lift. Needless to say all that weight aloft was causing undue strains on Vega’s poor rigging and a lot more roll than was healthy. While on Nila we used an ancient Chinese rigging material to solve this problem – at least for the time being.

Vega’s Main yard had become so heavy that it was too difficult to get up and down as needed, not to mention the roll all that weight aloft was causing. So when we discovered that on Nila they had several stands of very large straight bamboo, Meggi brought out an idea she has been nurturing for several years now… replace that heavy yard with one from Bamboo. Granted it would not look truly traditional – which had me a bit set against it – but it would be light and strong. So after an evening of discussions, it was agreed and with the help of two of Pak Henki’s sons we set out the next morning to climb the islands Volcano in search of a proper bamboo pole.

It seems that on Nila everything is up the mountain and the best bamboo is found halfway up the mountain just beside the best canoe building trees. It took us about an hour of climbing to reach the sheltered grove of Nutmeg and clove trees where the paths divide into one that crosses the island and the other that goes to the hot volcanic springs. It was along the path to the springs we were assured the best bamboo would be found. Another 20 minutes walking with a visit to where a large new canoe was being carved from a fallen tree trunk brought us to the bamboo forests of Nila. Most think of Bamboo as a modest decorative plant found around hotels and in gardens. This was the real full-grown wild bamboo reaching over 20 meters high and well over 20 cm in diameter in some places. It took us some time to pick a proper “stick” with the needed 15 cm diameter in the middle as well as a good straight run for at least 12 meters. At last one was decided on, cut, and trimmed. That was the easy part. Next came the task of getting it down from the mountain and out of the forest. What started out as a combined effort was soon taken over by the two local lads who simply shouldered the thing and took off running down the path.

To cut the story short we drilled it the next day and left it immersed for the next three days to soak up salt and that way avoid splitting when it dried. Before leaving we loaded it onboard Vega lashing it down opposite the old yard. It stayed there drying until we had been several days in the Banda Islands. Rigging it was interesting but posed no real problems since the centre diameter was the same as the old one. It does lack the distinctive double taper typical of most yards and is heavier on one side than the other, but then again I was able to hoist it up with ease – something the old yard took three men to accomplish. Meggi painted it a nice shade of brown with white centre and yardarms to make it look a bit more traditional. Will keep you posted as to how it works out. In any case, we hope it is only a temporary measure until Morten’s lovely Pine spars arrive from Norway.

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