Excerpted from SC Fleet Classic Times, Summer 2021
"Wooden Ships", a song written and composed by David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Paul Kantner, was recorded by both Crosby, Stills & Nash and by Jefferson Airplane. Both groups performed the song during their performances at Woodstock in 1969.
The song was written and composed in 1968 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, aboard David Crosby’s boat Mayan. The melody and harmonies of “Wooden Ships” are beautiful and people often include the song in “yacht rock” compilations to enjoy listening to while on the water. However, if you listen carefully to the lyrics, the song actually imagines the quest for survival in a postapocalyptic world. It evokes the enduring human spirit that motivates the living to remain positive and rebuild from the ashes of a destroyed civilization. Wooden Ships As wooden ships are devoid of metal that would become radioactive, the songwriters imagine them carrying the survivors away from the ravaged shores. . . . . Another good reason to keep our wooden ships “on the water very free”. David Crosby reminds us that in times of “hassles, confusion, and pain . . . the boat helps, because the boat has great beauty and constancy and meaning. It has grace and comradeship. And all of those things get to your head.”
David Crosby at the helm of Mayan.
The Mayan, a 59-foot John Alden–designed wooden schooner, came to the capable hands of Wayne Ettel at the Boatswayne Shipyard for its most recent restoration. - photos by Wayne Ettel
Wayne Ettel and his crew of wood specialists assessed and rebuilt Mayan with replacement of the brass fasteners with silicon bronze, the centerboard trunk, 70% of the frames, and 100% of the planking. Once she was put back into the water, the shoddy work of a former restoration was no longer acceptable and the decks, bulwarks, and covering boards were also replaced. Wayne said, “She outlived her builder and now she will outlive us. She is stronger and more seaworthy than she was when she was new.” Although leery at first, Wayne came to know and respect David Crosby as a true man of the sea.
Rock ‘n’ roll icon and seaman David Crosby @ Wilmington