Sunday, May 6, 2012

One week to go......

...until the big launch day. Well in fact it's less than a week now, it was a week away yesterday. *eep*

The boat progresses. Here with one of the side panels in place so you get an idea of the height.
It's progressing nicely. I took some pictures for you all so have a gander at those. The end pieces are nearly done and the builders are fine tuning the fit which involves a lot of lifting it into position, taking it down, chipping a bit off, lifting it into position, chipping a bit more off, you get the picture. And these pieces aren't light often taking 2 or 3 people to hold and carry. When the original boat was excavated in September 1992 (20 years this year!) the end pieces were missing, as were the side panels you can see in the picture above. There had to be side panels because the swell (the height of the waves in the sea) would have washed over the top and sunk the boat. Because the boat is only at half scale, the boat, even with the extended sides, will still be too low to handle the famously rough Channel swell. The original would have been twice as tall so would have been able to cope. The shape of the end pieces are basically an educated guess. We know how they fitted onto the end because we can analyse the joint surviving on the original boat so we know that's accurate but shape of the top is under much debate. The builders have made them rounded but they could have been flat or pointed, or anything really! The ends of this boat are not matching because it gives us a chance to experiment and see how the boat behaves with different shaped ends; does it go faster/slower, turn quicker, paddle easier, that kind of thing.

Testing the fit of one of the end pieces
If I haven't already mentioned, the boat made up of planks of wood which are sewn together with yew withes and rope. The holes are sealed with moss and beeswax to keep the whole thing water tight, and as the boat ages and gets wet, the wood swells and seals it further. It might seem like an odd way to make a boat but the commonly held theory is that repairs would have been easier to do if you could just take it apart and replace the broken part, than it would be to make a whole new boat. The boat would have been paddled and one of the research questions we hope to answer is how hard it is to move the boat in the water. There will be a few 'lucky' people who get to paddle it around Dover Harbour and test it out once it's completed (which will be this week as the launch is on Saturday!).

If you are in the area the launch will be on Saturday 12th May on Dover Seafront (near the Water Sport's Centre). The event starts at 1pm with the launch being at 2pm. Come and have a look if you are around! be continued...

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