Downrigging Providence

Downrigging Providence

In this week’s #TallShipTuesday video, Providence’s crew took you with them as they began the process of downrigging the ship. This is an important part of the year for many tall ships in the northern hemisphere. To prepare for winter, parts of the ship are taken down. They are then stowed off the ship. This includes sails, spars, lines, and some hardware.This also helps with maintenance in the winter. 

Downrigging Festivals

It is one of the few times in the year you are sure to see several tall ships all together. While Providence doesn’t often attend these, other tall ships will gather together to take apart their ships. One of the largest on the east coast is the Sultana Downrigging Festival. Wooden-hull ships come from all around, offer deck tours and other programming, and work together to prepare their ships for winter. Sometimes these are paired with a parade of tall ships into town. It transports you back in time to the 18th and 19th centuries to see these ships sail into port together.


When Providence is not sailing between the months of November to March, we take her sails off the ship. Why leave the sails exposed to the elements more than they need to? If we take them in, they are also more easily repaired and serviced for next season, and we can make sure when we uprig, our sails will be nice and fresh for the next season. To store our sails, we fold them up nice and tight and keep them in our storage area.


When the sails come down, so do many of our lines. Lines (ropes with a job on a ship) face general wear and tear during the season. Taking them in allows us to make sure our rigging is strong and safe while we sail and there is not any chafing that could cause a problem. Getting the lines down can sometimes be a bit messy which is why it is important to carefully coil the lines. They can then be stored inside for the winter with the sails.


This year providence took down our Crojack Yard, Top Yard, and our Gaff. These are the two spars that hold up our Tops’l and the spar that holds the top part of our Mains’l. In other years we have taken down our Topms’t which is the top part of our mast. We also have plans this year to replace our bowsprit which is the 40 foot spar all the way at the front of our ship that holds our Headrig together.

It takes a lot of hands to get all of this done and it wouldn’t be possible without your support. Without our community, We wouldn’t be able to welcome so many people onboard for tours and sails. So thank you all. We are nearing the end of our year end fundraising, so please consider donating so we can continue to bring you programming in the new year.

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