This month we have continued to work on the keel and underloutes. The keel is nearly complete, just requiring scarfs to be cut on each end in order that it can be mated to the corresponding scarfs on the underloutes. Unfortunately, due to a large knot in the centre of the keel which was identified when the keel blank was first cut, around three feet has had to be removed from the aft end. This will be replaced by timber in an extended aft underloute – again allowed for when sourcing this log. The underloutes are now beginning to take their final shape with bevels being applied to take the garboard planking. The aft underloute came from a timber yard near Grimsby, along with sufficient timber to complete the remaining backbone pieces (upper and lower stem and sternposts).

We are intending to work the aft underloute entirely using traditional axe-work techniques as a contrast to the forward underloute which was sawn from the log in an effort to get both pieces from the same log. This will enable us to calculate the different working times between traditional and modern methods.

A first training course has been carried out to ensure that axe safety skills can be spread and maintained through the volunteer group and further courses will be held in due time. The course covered axe safety, cleaving skills (using mallets and wedges to split the log into sections) and converting the wedge shaped sections thus produced into the finished planking.

We have now vacated our second site near Wickham Market so that it can be returned to its primary use of grain storage during the harvest and look forward to be able to use it again later in the year.

Test panels of oak have been coated up to investigate the performance of various oil and tar finishes for use in the final decoration of the ship. These will be monitored for wear and discolouration (one will be submerged in the River Deben) in order to identify the best finish for the ship.

Many thanks to the volunteers for all their efforts and we look forward to welcoming back both volunteers and visitors to the Longshed in August.

Tim Kirk