Go Figure


I’m lucky to have a friend as considerate as John.  Last year he announced that he was going to have a figurehead carved for my boat while he was on an extended trip in Africa.  At the time I thought this was one of those nice things people say, but don’t follow through on.   After he was there for a few months I started to wonder if he might actually have been serious, so I sent him an e-mail with dimensions and a concept drawing.  Well, John was one step ahead of me.

He wrote back promptly saying that the figurehead had already been carved.  I was impressed.


When John finally arrived home, he delivered a beautiful (and impressively heavy) little heron.  I loved both the carving and the thoughtfulness of the gift.  However, spontaneity and practicality don’t necessarily mix.  I’m not quite sure how to mount the dang thing on my boat, nor am I sure where to put it on an eighteen foot boat that already gets cluttered pretty quickly.


It would be nice to have on the bow, but I’m not sure how I’d mount it and it would get in the way of the bow-eye.  I’m scared to put it inside of the boat for fear of getting impaled or have a sheet get tangled on it, but I want to do something to respect this great gift.


Dear readers, what advice do you have for me?


  1. I’d suggest you put a couple small brass or stainless L-brackets on each side of the stem and either screwed into the back of the figurehead base with wood screws or are through-bolted using flathead machine screws countersunk into the figurehead base from the front and secured with nuts at the L-brackets. The former will be less visible from the front, the latter will be more secure.

  2. I’ve read that a model ship over the door brings good luck. Mount it over the door you would use as you head out to go boating. Explain to your friend how there, it will stay safe and ‘bless’ each trip you take.

  3. From an artist who is also a sailor: it definitely needs to be mounted on the bow. Move the tow eye down if you have to (I know, not an easy matter) and make a metal bracket the mounting block will slide into (and pop out of maybe in extreme situations to avoid breaking it).

  4. since your stem is painted white you could add on a piece that matched the width of the figure head and raise it above the bow eye. Tapper it into the original stem. Once it’s painted it should look like it was meant to be there.

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