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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Old Ironsides

The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world.  Surely there are older historic ships in display around the world, but she is the only ship still maintained on its nation’s roles of active warships.


Of course, she doesn’t sail anymore in support of U.S. Navy missions, in fact most of her sails are missing.  But that won’t stop visitors from coming onboard to see how life was in the Navy two hundred years ago.  She is a window into that life and it wasn’t always easy or glamorous. 

Imagine climbing up the mast and out on the yardarms in storms and high winds while the ship was being tossed on rough seas to furl the sails, often barefoot.  Or being a Marine sharpshooter on the platform on the mast trying to draw a bead on the sailors and officers of a nearby enemy ship during battle.


How about being a gunners mate wrestling the heavy cannon to get shots on an enemy? 


No power steering here, just muscle power of at least two helmsmen to keep the Constitution on course.


A compass at the feet of the helmsmen showed the course.


The hull was built of Georgia oak, so strong that in battles, enemy cannon balls bounced off, giving the ship the nickname of Old Ironsides.


The hull is sheathed in copper from the waterline to the keel to prevent marine worms from boring into the wood and slowly destroying the ship. The copper, the orange band in the picture, was originally supplied by Paul Revere.


The bow has beautifully carved woodwork.


Intricate detail is found all over the ship.  There are these lion heads on the end of the anchor winches.


A beautifully crafted ship’s bell hangs on the main mast.


Looking up at the masts, you see hundreds of ropes…but they are not ropes at all.


Everywhere you look, there are these “non”-ropes.


How come there are no ropes on Old Ironsides? 

Because on a ship, ropes are called `LINES.

Nautical vessels have their language and things that are ashore are known by different names afloat.  Floors are decks, walls are bulkheads, ceilings are overheads, stairs are ladders and the biggy, bathrooms are called heads.  So don’t call a line a rope on Old Ironsides, or you might find yourself being Keel Hauled.

The USS Constitution is free to board, you can walk the decks yourself or take a tour around the ship led by an active duty Navy sailor dressed in authentic clothing from the ship’s heyday.  A amazing piece of American history lovingly preserved for future generations.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. This was a great tour. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. I always wondered what a bulkhead was. Thanks. :)

  3. We visited Old Ironsides a couple years ago. I love the history of Boston. There is so much that has been preserved for us to enjoy. I can certainly tell that is exactly what you're doing.

  4. Really enjoying your tour, we will have to visit sometime

  5. And a great peice of history she is!!!

  6. Nice tour. We're going NE next summer. Perhaps we'll have a chance to see Old Ironsides as well. Thanks for the tour.

  7. Great tour, what a wonderful piece of American History.

  8. Thanks for taking us back to Old Ironsides, it's been many years since we walked her floor ... sorry, deck.

  9. HA! When I saw this title I thought well now Paul's in trouble when Marti finds out what he's calling her. Looks like this is "another woman" she won't mind you admiring.

  10. The days of wooden ships and iron men revisited.

  11. She is a beauty. Where's the picture of Paul steering the ship? Or am I going to be keel hauled because that's probably not the correct term either.