By National Parks Traveller Staff
Three new masts, and one very old gold piece, have been installed on the C.A. Thayer, a schooner that calls San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park its home berth.
The 1895 gold piece that was laid Monday on the mainmast step of the schooner was donated by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. Moments later, a mobile crane at Alameda’s Bay Ship and Yacht yard deftly fitted the 109-foot, 8.4-ton “stick” through a two-and-a-half foot hole carved in her planked deck. With the installation of her masts, the National Historic Landmark vessel’s preservation is nearly complete.
The C.A. Thayer will return to Hyde Street Pier later this month, where park staff will completely rig the vessel. The newly-masted schooner will be honored at the park’s 2016 Festival of the Sea, a free, all-day public event scheduled for Saturday, August 20.
“We’re excited to bring C.A. Thayer back to Hyde Street Pier during the National Park Service’s centennial year,” said park Superintendent Hendricks. “I invite the public to visit Hyde Street Pier this spring and watch our historic rigging crew install wire and line on all three of her new masts.”
According to a park release, a “stepping the mast” ceremony "is a hoary maritime tradition, dating to at least the days of ancient Rome. At one time thought to bring good luck, placing a coin (or other memorabilia) under a vessel’s mast is now as much a part of shipbuilding custom as a smashed-Champagne-bottle launch."
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located at the west end of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The park includes the fleet of historic vessels, Visitor Center, Museum, Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.