Tom Vosmer

Tom Vosmer

The heat is on

4th July 2009

Tom Vosmer, Construction Director

The heat is on, literally and figuratively. Temperatures regularly top 40° C, with humidity like a heavy, hot, clammy blanket

And we’re also feeling the heat of the construction schedule. We have about two months to prepare the boat for launch and there’s a lot to be done. The ship is planked up to the level of the through-beams, and now many construction activities have to happen nearly simultaneously, or in quick succession if we are to complete the vessel on time.

We are just fitting and lashing the beam shelves inside the hull. Beam shelves are plank-like timbers that are lashed to the planking inside the ship and help support the through-beams. Sixteen beams need to be cut, shaped, fitted and sewn in place across the ship. The beams are huge baulks of teak, some weighing up to 300 kg (660lbs). But before the beams can be fitted, the sister keelsons must go in. These are long timbers that are fitted on either side of the keelson inside the ship. When the beams have been fitted and sewn, the upper two strakes of planking can be finished. Then one hundred top frames need to be shaped, fitted, and lashed in place inside the hull.

The ‘cheek pieces’, heavy pairs of timbers in the stern which provide a housing for the median rudder have been finished and are ready to be lashed into place.

At the same time, we’ll be fashioning spars from poona and teak, making sails, making rigging blocks (pulleys) and starting to assemble the rigging.

The ropeworkers have been plugging the stitching holes and sealing them with a putty they concoct from khundrus resin, calcium carbonate powder and fish oil. It has the colour of dead flesh. They press the putty into each stitching hole. The result looks like someone has gone nuts with wads of well-used chewing gum.

The replacement of the shed over the ship which was destroyed on March 25 is finally underway and proving to be very disruptive to the boat-building schedule. The site looks like a war zone, with deep ‘bomb craters’ everywhere (holes for the foundation) and great piles of excavated sand, rock and earth. We’ll be happy when things return to normal.

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