This July, I sailed north from Newport to Ilulissat, Greenland to circumnavigate Disko Island 150 miles above the Arctic Circle... About halfway up Greenland's west coast. The journey began in Nassau, Bahamas, stopped in Newport, Halifax, St. Johns, Newfoundland, and finally up to Greenland- where we sailed to towns such as Nuuk, Maniitsoq, Sisimiut, and finally Ilulissat.
About 90% of the local fishing boats there are all wooden & copper plated below the waterline. This is owed to frequent collisions with small ice bergs called growlers and bergy bits. We took two separate helicopter trips up to one of the quickest moving glaciers on the planet- the Jakobshavn Isbrae- and met with a team of experts from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
We were also lucky enough to have our world famous Swedish helli-skiing pro Anders Bergwall lead us through the fjords at 2:00AM while we were enjoying 24-hour sunlight! All in all, our crew was only up there for two weeks- although it was a 10 day sail north, and a 10 day sail back down.
I'm not sure if I would like to sail that far north again, but I don't have to; the icebergs were unforgettable.... if only they had AIS....
Watch the slideshow with Gina's astounding photos from Greenland.
I recently was invited to hear a lecture in Athens about the mew Museum on Nautical Construction Sciences on the island of Samos.
The island of Samos has a tradition of wooden boat building that goes back to antiquity and spans centuries of the medieval ages all the way to the 19th century. Perhaps one of the reasons for this has been the rich forest of pine, which was suitable for durable frames and planking. Furthermore, like with most Greek islands, its people have taken to the sea and prosper as both boat builders and boat owners.
The reason the museum was located there, is much simpler and due to a donation from a private foundation and the availability of a piece of land near Pythagorio, where Pythagoras came from. The island still has a number of small boat yards, where a number of local boat builders, against all odds, continue to build the popular fishing boats even if there are no customers for them, simply because they like this craft.
The museum will have a preservation role but also a research mission as well as an educational purpose where it will try to attract young people who want to learn how to build wooden boats. It still needs to gather its money for the building which has been designed but it already has a number of full size boats that have been donated to it as well as many other exhibits in storage.
I was lucky to have visited one of the boat yards on the island tucked away on the western most end of Samos, from where I am including a number of photos I took at the time. There was no one there, yet boats were all around in different stages of completion. The facilities were something less than primitive, which meant the people really loved what they were doing and hand tools played a bigger role than heavy machinery. The boats and their scantlings showed to start a lack of sophistication. But these were boat-building methods, which survived centuries and were carried down from father to son without books and theories but a continuous practice and a great instinct for seaworthiness in the tricky waters of the Aegean. The timber used was full of knots but at the thickness used did not matter. Weight is therefore a negative in performance but at the speed foreseen, strength and longevity has been more important.
Watch the slideshow with more photos from Agios Isidoros.
The 83 ft motor yacht Black Night was built in Boothbay Maine in 1968. It is currently completing restoration in Newport Shipyards which have taken about 3 years and involved many craftsmen including several IYRS alumni.
The boat was built originally for Richard Mellon, president of the Mellon bank and was initially called Cassiar, who used it for sword-fishing in the North Atlantic. In 1978 his widow Constance donated it to Johns Hopkins University where it became a research vessel. Soon after, however, William Combs bought it and used it in the Newport area in several functions including as a race committee boat, after renaming it Black Night. It was to be the committee boat of the Americas Cup in the historic race of 1983 when Dennis Conner in Liberty lost the cup to Australia, thus ending the longest 132 years winning streak in sports history held by the New York Yacht Club.
In 1986 was sold to a Swedish businessman who took it in many parts of the world and hosted many celebrities. In 2001 in the 150 years jubilee anniversary of the Americas cup she hosted Princess Anne to watch the Cowes race around the Island of Wight in England. In 2007 the boat was taken to the Newport Shipyard for major restoration. The boat remains in the family of the same Swedish owner who bought her but passed away in 2002.
The photographs, for this entry, were contributed by our fellow alumni Sam Leuschner (08) and David Cox (01), who have been on this restoration along with Carson Agnew (02), Tom Goddard (08), Brian Kelly (09) and Will Sofrin (01)
Josh Swan, in parallel with his workshop, currently serving as an Artisan-in-Residence, in the University of Wisconsin - Madison Department of Art, started the building of a 13.5-foot Maine "peapod" rowboat, overseeing a team of students, interested to develop wood-working skills and pick up some of the techniques unique to boat construction.
The students are building the boat in the seventh-floor woodworking studios of the campus' Mosse Humanities Building, carrying out all the steps of construction and aiming at finishing and selling the boat by the end of March.
"The boat name derives from its shape and this rowboat first showed up in the mid-1800s along the Maine coast and was used by lobstermen to tend their lobster pots", says Josh.
Josh, says he is not yet a master boat builder: "No gray hair and too many fingers still on my hand for that. But I am getting pretty good at it."
The images here show the skeletal curve of the peapod rowboat under construction in the woodshop at the Mosse Humanities Building.
Margery Bradshaw graduated from IYRS in 2006. A working mother of two sons one in his late teens and the other a toddler then, she stood among all those who knew her, with her kind disposition and willingness to help in every team project.
Upon graduation Margery worked as boat builder in several projects in the Newport area (see blog posting Margery Bradshaw - Fast 48' Fishing Boat). She was laid off from her last project and immediately she looked for possibilities to weather the storm of unemployment.
While looking for a job, Margery wanted to stay active, so she approached the school of her son, The Quest Montessori school in Exeter Rhode Island, and suggested that she helps young kids built a wooden kayak. The school accepted the idea and the project was launched with 15-20 students participating .
“It’s very exciting to see the children so focused on this project and to watch them work together as a team to create this beautiful work of art,“ she said.
The 20 ft 8 in boat out of cedar is a tandem kayak with plans bought from Noah Marine in up state New York, © Designed by Steve Killing. Built by 15-20 children, ages 6 to 8 years old it took two and a half months to built with 3-4 hours working sessions, 4 days per week. The boat will be auctioned and the school will use the proceeds. The children want to built a sail boat next.
Below is a slideshow with images from Margery's work with the kids
Margery, a proud mother with a son in IRAQ, donated her time and the school put up the cost of the material. She loved her experience and would wish to be engaged as a teacher carpenter by the school .
We wish her all the best lack but we can do more. We could help her in the next project. I would like to appeal to those who know Margery but also to those who know how hard it is to be a single working mother to offer any assistance to Margery for her next project. It could be used tools, it could be supplies and material, old wood we have in our back yard, it could be money. But lets help the effort with what we can, to show that we support a spirit which refuses to give up, we support a fellow IYRS alumnus and and we support someone who helps keep the great craft of wooden boat building alive.
Contact Margery in .......401.345.0006
15 West Street
Warwick, RI 02886
Read the article on Margery's work at Projo.com
Our Will Sofrin, class of 2001, has recently completed his work on his NY-30 plan. Will has been using original design data of the boats owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create construction plans for two dozen of Herreshoff's most heralded yacht designs.
Will has managed to decipher tables of boat measurements left with a museum at MIT, which Herreshoff attended, and use the numbers, to create mathematically accurate ink drawings, including of seven yachts designed specifically for the America's Cup.
Will's original drawings will be added to the Hart Nautical Collections at the MIT Museum, which owns the copyright on Herreshoff's design data and received a majority of his design records following his death. He is also making copies available for sale.
Will said, what makes his project special is its strict attention to detail, as if Herreshoff had participated."This project is done in a way that I wanted it to be, as accurate as if NGH (Nathanael Greene Herreshoff) had drawn it or if he had someone working for him or drawing it with him".
Will's next work will be the NY-40.
Margery Bradshaw sent us this input about her project of the last 3 years at Loughborough Marine in Newport , Rhode Island. She has been working on a custom made 48' fishing boat doing interior and exterior work working with mahogany , teak and other fancy wood. Margery has always been a source of humor and optimism while at school for those who met her. She is a mother of two sons one of which is with the US armed forces in Iraq. Read her report.
"For the last 3 years I have been working in the Loughborough Marine boat building shop on 312 Connelly Hwy, in Newport is the shop address and the office addres is 56 Bridge st Newport.Newport RI. Their first project was custom build fishing boat, without a name so far, which they started in 2004.
She is a 48' sport fishing boat. The owner had a 45' hull that he wanted to restore and stretch 3 feet. The first builder, built on top of the hull instead of removing a plank and replacing it he just built all the new planks over the old. So the boat had a lot more flare in the bow, which is kind of nice. The planks are 3/4 African Mahogany, which marine ply on the outside, then there are 3 layers of fiber glass 1708 weight. Then it is coated with Ampreg 20/20 and baked. So the hull is thick and strong. We then flipped the boat over. The first builder laminated the frames out of the African Mahogany, they are 1 1/2 x4 inches thick. That's where I came in. The deck beams are laminated fir and will be exposed in the cabin as will the planking. In the cabin there is a Master Berth in the bow, then the head with a sink and a shower, the main salon with a settee and a dinette, the galley with a sink, a microwave, and a stove top with 3 plates. and a small berth which we call the kids berth which has a bunk on the bottom and a fold down bunk on the top so it can be used as a settee. There are two hanging lockers in the master and a set of 3 draws in the master berth. The kids berth has 1 hanging locker and bi-fold doors.
I made the sole which is cherry and sapeele, I book matched the cherry and used 1/4" strips of the sapeele between the book matched pieces. It took about 6 weeks start to finish.
The bulk heads are 3/4 marine ply or a sandwich of marine ply with divine cell (there are some curved bulk heads and this was the best way to do it. And they wanted to safe weight).
The decks are again a sandwich of ply and honeycomb. Which I vacuumed bagged 1 sheet of ply and the honeycomb then took that to the boat and vacuumed bagged that to the beams then we vacuumed bagged the top sheet of ply. Then we glassed the deck. We started with the rail, there is a layer of 1708 and a layer of 10oz. We vacuumed bagged this on in stages, we would skip the next section so we could make sure every thing was over lapped.
The same was done for the bridge deck and the cockpit. The cockpit then had teak and holly on top.
There is a very large fish box that is almost the beam of the boat, you could fit a few men with cement shoes in it with no problem, LOL
She has 2 Yanmar engines and two 450 gallon fuel tanks. She should do around 35 knots (at least that is the plan)
David and his brother Joe are the owners of the facility and the sport fishing boat is the first to be built at this shed by Dave. His brother Joe, has a shed in Portsmouth RI. and is currently working on a 78' sail boat refit.The brothers are from England and have been in Newport for over 20 years. David is an avide sailor who has sailed the world. Dave has worked at a number of boatbuilding facilities in the areal. He also shrink wraps boats in the fall. Dave is currently looking for another project, possible a Hinkley picnic boat restoration. (which I hope he gets sooner then later)
The project has been in the works for 5 years now, we should be done early this spring (March/April). However, last Sunday the owner called us and said he was pulling the plug on the project. Our project manager has managed to get us another weeks work on the boat but at this point I think its a day by day wait and see if I have a job the next day."
I had one more time the opportunity to see Faneromeni, owned by my friend Nikos Riginos , one of the excellent restoration jobs of traditional Greek wooden craft.
The S/Y Faneromeni is a 15 meter traditional wooden Greek caique of the style known as Perama. Perama caiques were sailing vessels used for transporting cargo between the Greek islands and/or the mainland.
Faneromeni was built in the island of Skiathos in 1945 where she started her life under sails with a small auxiliary engine and a crew of six transporting potatoes and other vegetables between the city of Volos and Skiathos. In her long life she changed many hands and was based in several islands until in the late 1980's when she was used as a tourist boat rated for 60 passengers in the island of Poros. By that time she had been completely altered: she had lost her masts, had acquired a tall pilot house superstructure and was propelled by a large 120 hp 6 cylinderKelvin Diesel engine.
Nikos Riginos bought her in 1987 and started the painful and time consuming process of restoring her to her original form. He spend over 3 years doing so. He started by old photographs and drawings and by consulting naval architects, museums, and old shipwrights. He found traditional craftsmen, mostly old and retired who had worked in Greek shipyards, most of them before World War II. He stripped the hull and repaired all the woodwork which was in a surprisingly good condition. He outfitted her, as she originally was, a two mast schooner reproducing exactly her original rigging. The masts are made of cypress trees harvested by one of the last marine woodcutters in the island of Lesvos. Following the traditional methods, the trees were cut down on the proper time of the year and then the wood was kept submerged in the sea for 3 months. It took over a year to build the masts and spars. Nikos wanted to use traditional canvas for the sails, however, that material was not available anymore in Greece. He had to special order the canvas from Francis Webster Spinners-and-Weavers, Scotland. The sails were then made by one of the last surviving traditional sail makers in the Piraeus, while the rigging was worked on by the last surviving rigger of the Greek Navy, who was located in the island of Salamis, well into his 80s. The non traditional pilot house was replaced by three low lying superstructures following the original design. Faneromeni has been declared a national monument, by the Greek ministry of Culture and she is the flagship of the precious few restored traditional caiques in Greece.
While the exterior of Faneromeni is strictly traditional, the interior is modern and very comfortable. She has three compartments. The forecastle is used as a storage room and also houses, in a special compartment, her two chains (over 150 m) for the heavy anchors which are raised by a very substantial electric windlass. The center compartment is used as a living area with two double cabins, each with it own bathroom (sink, head, and shower), a saloon, and a small galley. The aft compartment houses the main engine and a 7.5 kW Diesel ONAN genset. Over the engine there is a small sitting area which is used as a pilot room and houses the navigation instruments: windmeter, depth sounder, knotmeter, GPS/Chart plotter, radar, Navtex, VHF radio, autopilot control, etc. She is also outfitted by large capacity tanks: 1600 l for water, and 1800 l of fuel.
For more details see her dedicated site, which is under translation currently from Greek to English.
The above text was produced by the brother of Nikos Riginos , Vasilis, himself a great sailor with his 37' sloop "Thetis".
Currently, I am leading a staff of 16 skilled maritime trade workers. On the staff are Preservation Shipwrights, Preservation Riggers, marine painters, deck hands, , laborers, and two Vessel Captains who operate our Scow Schooner from the Pier.
I have two line supervisors who help me establish the direction and tone of our efforts.
I am directly responsible for the preservation and repair of 6 National historic landmark ships (The Full Rig Ship Balclutha, the Steam Ferry Boat Eureka, the Scow Schooner Alma, the Lumber Schooner C.A.Thayer, the Steam Schooner Wapama, and the Steam Tug Boat Hercules) as well as the side wheel steam tug Eppleton Hall, various land-based large maritime artifacts and machines, and the shipwright facilities and warehouses.
Additionally, I am required (or priviledeged) to work with various Local, State, and Federal agencies in determining the why's, what's, and how's regarding the care of these national treasures. Involved in all of this is managing a budget of just under $1 million for staff and operations,and working with the Federal line item budget process, and the Federal Contracting system to establish the logistics, and obtain the vast quantities of money required to take two vessels into dry dock each fiscal year.
This year we are restoring elements of the Main and Mizzen set on Balclutha, re-building the aft transom on Alma, taking the Steam Tug Hercules to dry dock for a $350k shave, haircut, and boat deck restoration, re-timbering the aft house n the C.A. Thayer, completing the restoration of the Lewis Ark, commencing on the planning and budget phase of a $14 million project to commence in fiscal year 2012.
And there is a LOT of routine and cyclic maintenance to attend to as well.
I can attribute a lot of my capacity for this work to the skills of lofting and lines taking that I acquired during my training at IYRS. The ability to work in irrational three dimensional spaces and describe conditions and goals in a manner that makes the work explicable to all manner of trades, from marine architects and engineers, to shipwrights and riggers is invaluable.
Attached are a few pictures. The first is a fairly recent image of me at work on the Thayer in the Park. The rest are process pictures from the core project when we had the ship on land in Alameda (Oakland) California.