Yachts and Tannins

by: Alexa Rose

Hi! This is Alexa again the ACE/CRDIP intern from the San Francisco Maritime Museum. For the past two weeks I have really delved into my research with the yacht “Ku’uipo”. The Baby Bird/Golden Gate class yacht “Ku’uipo” was designed to be a racing yacht based on the original Bird class design. It was originally made we think in 1937 by George Wayland, which I found the original receipt for the vessels construction. It has been hours of pouring through yachting magazines of the time, architectural folders and yachting yearbooks as seen below with me in the park’s library.

I have also been searching through all the local newspapers looking for any mention of the yacht. I was able to find many articles featuring the yacht’s racing history and all of her numerous wins (see below for some of the articles I found)! It is absolutely incredible to look through the pages of history and find an artifact I work on everyday.

I plan to continue researching this craft by going through the original architects folders more and then finally writing the history up in a final artifact report for the vessel. But, within conservation not all the work is researching in libraries. On a daily basis I can go from doing work with tanic acid to prevent rust (pictured below), putting borates in the vessel to prevent wood rot or simply trying to find the best way to photograph the vessel (also pictured below)

My day to day life is varied and full of adventure. One of my favorite parts of the week has been talking to the lead conservator about tannic acid. I thought it was really interesting that the natural tannins in trees could help prevent the natural rust. It foams and becomes black when it is ready (see below for a demonstration). This is what we use to treat all of the bolts in the Ku’uipo before it’s conservation is complete to preserve the historic fabric and provide future care for the metal.

I can not express how much joy it gives me to care for this piece of history. Every day I remember I am helping future generations be able to see and understand these artifacts. As so much of our history fades every day it is reassuring to know that I can help this artifact survive.

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