Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Them aren't oars, they're me wife and me daughters!

This weekend at the Dockyard was particularly productive - we managed to turn out sixteen oars, completed two boats, made 18 sets of gun implements, nine doors, ran through nine pots of coffee and twelve jugs of sweet tea.  Working from Friday through Monday night, the only breaks were to do some grilling, tend the fires in the pagan altar and slurp down a few Eastern Shore oysters.  A great time was had by all who stopped out and volunteered in the efforts.

Of course, all of the parts we made were in 1:12 scale (all except the beverages, which were full sized) - detail parts intended to spruce-up our huge mock-up of the 1812-era Sloop of War USS HORNET.  For those who are just joining us, we've resorted to calling her Mini-HORNET because 'model' didn't convey the appropriate context (not sure 'mini' does either but it has a certain irony to it).  They'll be added to the display when it goes on exhibition in Norfolk on July 18 at the Association of Defense Communities Annual Conference at the Waterside Marriott.  Stand by for more on that as we get closer to the date.


One of the coolest pieces we worked on were the oars for the boats.  At 12" long, these have to be made in almost the same manner as the real things to ensure they look right, and so making the 1:12 scale versions proved a great brushing-up for many people and reminded us all how much fun oar making really is.  And I'm not kidding, either.  There's very little so gratifying as taking a solid chunk of wood and shaping it quickly (well, relatively so, after practice) into something as complex as an oar.  Seems simple, but if you actually examine the shape of an oar you realize how challenging this appears to be. 

Luckily, there is a set and nearly fool-proof procedure to go about cutting out and shaping oars to give a relatively uniform product.  At the end of the day, it took an average of about ten minutes of work to finish one oar.  Of course, multiply that by ten for the launch, six for the jolly boat and twelve for each of the two cutters.  In case your math is fuzzy, that's 40 oars, and at best speed 6 hours and 40 minutes of work making all the oars for the boats of Mini-HORNET.  Yes, it all adds up.  Insert time for breaks and about 3 minutes for shuck and enjoy per oyster, plus time mixing sweet tea... I could go on and on - who am I kidding I love this stuff.


We have more work to do to be ready for our July 18th presentation - two more boats (the cutters, with all their equipment), the port side quarter davits, small parts and pieces for the boats and the anchor cables.  If we have time, I'd like to knock out another anchor but we have one and nobody will notice that we're missing one - so that's not too critical.  We also have flags - a huge plethora of flags - being made up right now and those will have to go on as well.

NEXT SUNDAY - I'd like to get as many volunteers out to the Dockyard as we can so we can setup and rig Mini-HORNET.  There's no need to get too crazy but we need to cut in new backstays on all three masts, tighten up the head rig, trim the spanker's shape and reeve flag and signal halyards.  This work shouldn't take too long provided we have enough people to help with the setup and break down.

Oh, and I almost forgot - ALL HANDS PRACTICE YOUR KNOTS!  We won't have time to teach.


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