For some this will be the most entrancing part of the whole project. To see the ship gradually come to life, in stillness and dignity, in the Longshed, will be the fulfilment of many a dream – so romantic, so historic, so grand, so evocative. For those exercising their skills and relearning old skills it will be the most satisfying, absorbing and worthwhile time that could be spent. We expect construction to take about three years as there are many steps, from turning the computer specifications into workable plans, to finally finishing every oar to row the ship down the River Deben.
What is the Ship to be built from? Principally oak – green oak. Freshly-felled oak was almost certainly used for the original, this green wood shrinks over time as it dries out and this lends some urgency to the completion.
Even so, progress must be orderly and begin with lofting, life-size drawing, the ship on the floor of the Longshed. It helps to demonstrate the scale of the task, identifies the tricky bits and confirms the order in which things need to be done.
Maybe even more dramatically than the lofting comes the laying of the keel – a piece of green oak 50 feet long, by about 12 x 8 inches (about 15 metres x 30cm x 20cm). Imagine how grand, how tall, how straight the tree must be to produce that.
We are currently sourcing the wood – but we may have to travel far afield to find some of the oak. This is followed by shaping the stem and the stern of the boat from oak.
There are many other parts to the build including nine planks each side, the frames (ribs), tholes for the oars to rest against, thwarts to sit on, a rudder to steer and all must be joined in the way that the original craft was built with thousands of iron rivets and many trenails, the wooden pegs used to secure things together.
As work progresses and more definite plans are known this page will be updated and you will be able to watch via timelapse video or maybe come along to the Longshed to take a look.