January 2013 MAINE COASTAL NEWS Page 21. ShipShape: Model of the Month/Rigging Tips
Model of the Month- New Bedford Whale Boat New Bedford boat builders were re- sponsible for developing a nearly perfect design for a light, seaworthy boat to be used in the open ocean for the dangerous business of whaling.
These little boats were so seaworthy that, after the sinking of the whaleship ESSEX, some of her crew survived for 3 months and traveled several thousand miles in a whaleboat of similar design to our model. Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” provides us with one of the best descriptions of these famous little vessels. To give you an idea of just what a whaleman faced when his boat was lowered over the side, the photo below shows a whale boat next to a sperm whale, in the exact same scale! It was a hard, dangerous life being a whaleman.
The model is in a scale of 1/3”=1’ (1:36), with a length of 10”. In spite of its small size, simple looks, and very reason- able price, this is a kit for modelers with a reasonable amount of experience. I’d like to quote a portion of a letter that I received from a gentleman who has experience building this model. “It was a very interesting build and I estimate that I have a good 200 hours into the kit. I started on the kit in earnest right after New Years of 20xx. I fi nished it on April 14. I am quite pleased with the results. It took fi rst place at the Oregon Historical Modeling Society on April 15. I then entered
it in the IPMS Seattle Spring Show, where it took place for non-powered ships/boats, all scales”.
Where else can you have so much fun for $0.50/hour (kit cost of $100.00/200 hours)?
Editor's Notes: The British feel that the whaleboat was based on a Norwegian design. Since the mid-1600s they have been used in shore whaling here in the United States. They began as shallops and evolved into a double-ender, known for their light- ness, speed and seaworthiness.In
1725 the ones on Nantucket were described as 20-feet in length and carried six men. Now some think that the New Bedford whaleboat evolved from the Indian canoe. It is known that George Weymouth noted the good characteristics of them as they were being used for shore whaling. During the 1800s they were used by the English, French and Americans. Some designs had a transom. Between the mid-1800s a number of modifi - cations to the design and construction took place. Not much changed later than 1870, with exception of the sailing rig. Tip of the month....Rigging Last month there was a discussion of spars, so the next logical progression is to talk about rigging. For a novice modeler, looking at the quantity of lines on a period model is bewildering. Please let me stress that there is nothing mysterious about this forest of ropes. In fact, with experience, a modeler will soon realize that there really is a
logic to this maze. In fact, that is why we can totally re-rig a ship with no plans. It really begins to make sense after you have some experience. The fi rst step to creating order from chaos is to learn the jargon. In general, rigging can be divided into either standing rigging or running rigging. Standing rigging is generally applied to a model, fi rst. With minor exceptions, it can be thought of as lines (or metal cables) that serve to support the masts and bowsprite, and which is not meant to move during the sailing of a ship. Standing rigging usually consists of shrouds and stays (both fore, back, and intermediary stays).
Shrouds serve to support masts in a sideways direction, and usually run from some point on a mast, to some point on the hull. There can be only one, or several shrouds supporting each side of a mast. Ratlines are “ladders” created by lacing lines between 2 or more adjacent shrouds on the same mast, allowing for sailors to climb up onto the yards (which we discussed last month). Stays support the mast (s) in a fore and aft direction.
There are usually three types of stays, fore stay(s), back stay(s), and intermediary stay(s). Ships will almost always have for- estays, which also serve as places to which jib sails are hanked on (attached). Usually there will be a backstay, and if there are mul- tiple masts there frequently are intermediary stays running between the masts. Because standing rigging was generally
not meant to move during sailing, it was frequently “tarred” to preserve the hemp ropes that were most commonly used. For this reason, a convention amongst modelers is to rig standing rigging using black thread (of course the thread should be scaled to the proper diameter).
This now brings us to running rigging. The name is very descriptive. Running rigging is the rigging that is meant to move during the sailing of a ship. In general, these are the lines that control the sails and the spars. I’ll list the three most common kinds of running rigging that you are likely to encounter, but this is certainly not a com- prehensive list. Halyards generally are used to raise and lower sails. Sheets are attached to the ends of sails or spars, to either harden (pull them in) or ease (allow to be pulled out by the wind) the sail or the spar. Guys (or braces) are attached to the ends of yards to brace (move) the yards to a favorable angle relative to the wind. Frequently, especially on a very complicated model such as a clipper ship, modelers rig only the standing rigging, eliminating the running rigging. Because running rigging is meant to move, it can’t be tarred. Therefore, the modeling convention is to utilize white (or off white, tan, etc.) thread for running rigging. Hopefully, this discussion will enable you to begin to make some sense out of a rigging plan, description in a book, or build- ing your model.
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