In boatbuilding things seldom go to plan, and so it has proven this month! We were hoping to see timber felled and delivered for our replacement underloute happen in August, but this has been delayed until September by circumstances beyond anyone’s control. We look forward to updating you when this happens in two weeks’ time.
Also, in September we should see our next cache of planking timber felled. Luckily for us we soon won’t know what to do with all the logs we have been given (actually, we will indeed know what to do and will be spoilt for the riches of timber availability!) These felling delays will actually be beneficial as sap levels – which transport nutrients through the tree – will have begun to reduce as the trees shed their leaves and enter a period of dormancy through the autumn and over the winter. It is well known that high sap levels in timber can raise the potential for rot to occur in the converted timber and so there is actually a traditional season for felling timber, which we will now just be within.
Meanwhile, this month we have continued to convert the existing cleaved ‘wedges’ of timber into planking stock and to shape and prepare these for fitting and fastening up. There are now three of these ready for fastening up on each side at the bow of the Ship.
We have continued to train volunteers in the techniques of clinker boatbuilding through the fitting of planks to our ‘midships model’. This involves volunteers learning to cut scarfs to join the sections of each strake using an axe and drawknife, followed by the technique of ‘nailing up’ – the riveting of the iron nails over diamond-shaped roves. With each volunteer learning to fit a plank to the midship model before moving onto the actual ship, we will ensure that the quality of the build is consistently high.
We have also begun to make more of the traditional wooden clamps. Ultimately, we will probably need about fifty of these, so we continue to make batches little and often.
Several tours have been provided to sponsors and donors this month (one of these goes back to the crowd-funder appeal in the spring of 2021 which was scuppered by the pandemic). This gives donors the opportunity to get a more in-depth appreciation of the archaeology and how it relates to the reconstruction of the ship but it also gives us the opportunity to meet some very interesting and generous people, so the enjoyment of the visits is always reciprocal.
Hopefully, the recent really hot weather has now left us for the year. It has shown us, yet again, how much ‘green’ oak moves as it seasons and shrinks. This may require some decidedly un-Saxon technology to be employed as we begin to nail up the planking – but that is a story for next time!
And lastly, we celebrated a very special birthday as one of our Davids turned 90. Happy birthday Mr Turner.
Tim Kirk, Master Shipwright