The Seven Provinces

The process of measuring, looking and creating the shape of the hull planks.

The ‘hook’, essential tool of the ship builder.

Not much measuring was involved, it mainly was shaped ‘on the eye’; the line set out on the wood and then sawn and finally planed and burned into shape.

Once the hull plank was measured, sawn and planed to the correct measurements, it would be placed on metal round bars and bend to the right curve through ‘burning’ the surface with propane flames for a few hours. We would sit next to each other underneath the scaffolding with our little flames and burn a few square feet above our heads. This was especially challenging in winter as we had to sit still for a few hours, even with different shifts. The scaffolding was covered with plastic to keep the heat in as much as possible, and the rain out.

Then after the burning we had to quickly lift the plank in place whilst still hot to keep the curve in as much as possible, drill holes, put a tar mixture on the seam and whack huge nails in with gigantic sledge hammers.

The keel and first two hull planks

After part of the hull planks were in place we would start making the ribs to place into the hull and give it strength. The ribs were made out of one piece of wood we would first pick out of the wood pile roughly on shape and curve. Then we would get an adjustable mould and lay it on the inside of the hull where the rib had to come. We then would have a rough shape. We would put this on top of the wood we picked, draw a line with chalk and saw it out with a chainsaw. The chainsaw you see me operate in the left photo had a rig which was developed by the wharf especially for this job.

Then the next job would be plaining it to the exact curve in the top right corner and the final resting place in the hull on the bottom right. To place the rib we would use a mobile crane to lift it in, and a gigantic drill to drill the holes for the metal pins.

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