Tom Ward volunteered for a season in the brig Niagara, which had just been built the year previous. In her five miles of standing and more than seven miles of natural running rigging, not a single shackle had been employed. Eventually he would return to serve as boatswain in her for two years.
For the next fifteen years he ranged from the Great Lakes and the Canadian Maritimes to the Carribbean and points in between. He sailed before the mast as an AB and boatswain for four years before sailing as mate, completed the first circumnavigation of the barque Picton Castle in 1999, and has several years' command experience in sail and motor vessels.
After quitting the sea, Tom went to work for sailmaker Nat Wilson, of East Boothbay, Maine, under whose generous and exacting direction he further refined his practical skills. While in Wilson's employ, he was responsible for the rigging of several museum ships and classic sailing yachts.
Traditional Rigging Company was incorporated with his wife Dayle in 2008, rigging large and small sailing vessels such as Spirit of South Carolina, Adventure (c.1620), the Wm. Fife Adventuress, numerous classic wooden daysailers, the NY40 Marilee, and P Class boats Bernice, Olympian, and Chips. Since working as a rigger professionally, arguably no one person has made the rigging for more Herreshoff yachts, including the popular15-footers, since the HMCo. ceased production in 1947.
Dayle Tognoni Ward first went to sea at age 17, Sailing in Niagara, Pride of Baltimore II, and Spirit of Massachusetts, among others. Dayle earned her AB card at age 19 and 100 Ton Master's ticket shortly thereafter. After two transatlantics and a European tour in Pride II, she moved ashore and went to work at Bierig Sailmakers and then in Nat Wilson's loft, rounding out a wealth of practical experience that can only be gained at sea. She is one of a handful of sailmakers familiar with cotton sailcloth, and that will hand finish a sail using centuries-old techniques that stand the test of time.
They live in Appleton, Maine, with their two children and various animals, including a beloved but nameless three-legged black cat. Tom and Dayle built their shop using locally sourced materials in 2011 and in 2014 they added solar panels to make their shop completely solar powered.