So why are so many people responding to the Spirit? "It’s not only the sailing crowd that is excited about this," Sneed says, "but locals who remember that a great-grandfather came to America on a great rigged vessel. It’s striking a chord with regular people." Some visitors ask for cupfuls of sawdust as mementos. A local woman donated a handcrafted needlepoint pillow to help raise funds. A Florida man shipped up a five-foot-wide painting of the Spirit. And the project’s list of volunteers continues to grow. "They’re like fire ants," says Janet Segal, director of volunteers. "You can’t keep them away."
Although local artist Lee Arthur is a regular, only now, as the Spirit nears completion—its massive frames lying like gigantic wishbones in a huge grid pattern—has he begun to take in the vessel’s full dimensions. "Wow, it’s immense!" he exclaims. "I did not have a clue. You know, you’ll be able to see this ship from across town."
"Darn right," says Sneed.