HMAV Bounty Longboat Plan

HMAV Bounty Longboat Plan

The Kit

Back in March I won an eBay auction for an Aeropiccola Model kit of HMS Swift. The kind person from whom I won the Swift kit from also sent me an Artesania Latina model kit of the HMS Bounty Jolly Boat for free. The seller also included a fair set of free modelling tools and wood. It really is not often that you get such a treasure, the seller that is.

The Scratch-build thinking 

On opening up the Jolly Boat kit I noticed that there really weren't a huge number of ribs/frames and I began to worry about the overall accuracy of the kit (if you've seen my Gukor build log you will be asking why this bothers me, I can't answer that, but it does). I therefore started to think about scratch building it. I found <name>’s revenge build log which includes a longboat build and thought that I could use a similar technique to build one myself.

The Happystance

So with my mind set I had to put all modelling plans to one side while planning a nautically-themed fly-drive holiday to Nova Scotia. My plan was to visit as many maritime museums as possible looking with interest at their ship model collections for inspiration. Places on my list included the Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and the Shelburne Dory Shop museum along with a visit to the Bluenose II in Lunenburg if she was in port.

During the planning for the holiday I found that there was a Longboat Society in Shelburne, the Shelburne Longboat Society in fact and to give them their full title, who had actually built two full-size replicas of the HMS Bounty's longboat and now demonstrate them at local, and not so local, nautical events. As we were intending to visit Shelburne as part of the roadtrip and thinking it too good an opportunity to miss, I contacted the Society and they kindly agreed to meet me when I was in town. This happystance really did concrete my thinking and hence I am going to build both the Artesania Latina kit and a scratch-built version of the Bounty's longboat in parallel.

The Meeting

I arranged to meet Bob and Jim of the Shelburne Longboat Society at 10:00ish on a Thursday morning. The longboats do look fantastic and the chaps showed me around the loft where they still had all of the frames, and keep the masts and the oars. It must be a very impressive sight to see both longboats on the oggin at the same time with full oars set by teams in full 18th Century regalia. According to Bob and Jim both ride very high and are quite easy to move with a full compliment. Not so easy with a half -complement and passengers though. Most interesting thing I found, and not being nautical don't know if this is common practice, was the use of window putty as caulking. I would never have thought of it, but hey, why wouldn't it work? As the planks expand in the water the putty just oozes to fill any gap. 

Please have a look at the Society's website where they have a fantastic photo-journal of their longboat builds that will be a constant companion for me during mine.

Later in the day I visited the Shelburne Dory Museum and met their master builder, Milford, who had also been the lead in the build of the longboats. It's like stepping back into my father's workshop 40 years ago. Fantastic place built in 1880 and feels it. Milford was just finishing of a whirlygig masterclass as I arrived but then kindly gave me an hour of his time taking me through the build process of a Shelburne Dory. Absolutely fascinating. He's built thousands but hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the Shelburne Dory. He had finished and handed over racing Dory just the day before I arrived, can't have everything, but the jig used has been the same one the loft has used for decades and looks it. Over 40,000 Dories have come out of this shop that used to be one of 8 in the Shelburne. I learned that the major differences between the Shelburne Dory and the Lunenburg Dory is in the floor. The Lunenburg Dory floor has a 5" lift and is 1 1/2" thick whereas the Shelburne Dory is 3" and 1". The other thing I found fascinating was the use of two pieces of wood connected by a metal bracket to make the frames. A true Shelburne innovation doing away with the need for find “knee’d” timbers for the frames and halving the build time in the process. Back to caulking and again, not being nautical, I was surprised that the caulking used on the floor of the Dory is simply a seam of twisted cotton.

Another scratch-build will have to be done methinks, of a Shelburne Dory, in tribute to Milford.

Jim, next time I'm in town you can show me round a couple of houses.

The Holiday Highlights

Halifax - Halifax's Museum of the Atlantic is not a huge museum in comparison to say Portsmouth, Liverpool or Greenwich, but it does have a goodly number of models on the first floor. One thing I didn't notice when planning was that they have a model team who make and repair the exhibits. If I'd have been smarter I'd have arranged it so that we were there on a day other than a Sunday when the shop was closed. One exhibit they did have that I took a large number of photos of was the skeleton of a longboat with all the planking removed showing just the stem, stern, keel and frames. These photos should prove useful for both the design and the build of the scratch-build. Another thing in the museum I found of interest was the recreation of part of the Titanic's deck. Took a few pictures of that for reference later - lengths, offsets, plugs etc.

Lunenburg - Due to having to keep the Chief interested the time at the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum was limited to a couple of hours. Again not a huge museum but enough models to keep a modeller interested and they did have a wooden boat building film running in their theatre which was very interesting. Quite a few photos snapped of the models and another missed opportunity as again they had a modelling department. Doh! I also missed the local Dory Shop. Literally only found out about it whilst doing a tour of the Ironworks distillery late in the afternoon on the day we were leaving, although I did leave the distillery more than slightly inebriated. Hick!

It was a real honour to be able to stroll around the Bluenose II which had just docked from sea trial after a recently completing a refit. I could've spent hours on-board. Took a lot of detail photos, potentially another build in the future and also bought a couple of useful books containing the plans.

I have thousands of photos from the various museums, sheds and boats I've visited. It will take time to sort them all, especially as I have to start getting these of builds going and also have work and learning to fly to add in to the mix.

Next thing for me to do is start lofting the frames from the plans in the Penguin Classic book of Captain Bligh's journal and courts marshal minutes. Probably take me a couple of weeks for that. Although I've started the planning from the offset table given on the plan. 

As you can see, looks like I'll be preparing a 1/24 scale build.