Columns
10 years on Image

10 years on

Bargain hunters descend on Docklands
Read more >>

Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree
Read more >>

Chamber update Image

Chamber update

Bricks and Clicks – David Koch
Read more >>

Docklander Image

Docklander

Helping future generations tackle waste
Read more >>

Docklands Secrets Image

Docklands Secrets

Conflicting speeds
Read more >>

Fashion Image

Fashion

Top five street style trends
Read more >>

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Women’s Health Week is here
Read more >>

Letters Image

Letters

Get rid of it
Read more >>

New Businesses Image

New Businesses

Fear of the dentist? Fear not!
Read more >>

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Refund stamp duty to those affected by flammable cladding
Read more >>

Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

A Docklands duo
Read more >>

Precinct Perspectives

A day in the life of Victoria Harbour
Read more >>

SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

Vertical living style
Read more >>

Street Art Image

Street Art

Goodbye from Blender Studios
Read more >>

The District

The District Docklands in 24 hours
Read more >>

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Small print shrinks state cladding fund
Read more >>

What Women Want - With Abby Crawford Image

What Women Want - With Abby Crawford

We have to do better than this
Read more >>

The romance of shipwrighting

02 Jul 2019

The romance of shipwrighting Image

By Rhonda Dredge

If he had to choose a tool out of the shipwright’s toolkit, Christian Jones enjoys wielding the wedge.

It’s a simple but indispensible tool for shoring up sections and pushing up planks.

“It’s so versatile. I use it everyday,” the shipwright said with an enthusiastic smile.

He has just used a wedge to fit the garboard between the keel and ribs on the Alma Doepel and the job was a tricky one, requiring several decisive steps that distinguish the craft of boat-building from other carpentry jobs.

As one of three shipwrights working on the reconstruction of the legendary three-masted schooner for Darley Traditional Shipwrights, he has to be strong as well as skilled.

The garboard is a long straight plank that is both heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. Christian was forced to hold it up above his head while fitting it in but he did this with grace.

It then took three shipwrights to lift the garboard out again so the edges could be bevelled to make space for the caulking which waterproofs the structure.

“The hardest thing is the heavy lifting,” Christian said. “Everything weighs a ton but it’s the only way in awkward spaces.”

Things didn’t go according to plan. The garboard was fitted but the plane broke while they were working it. The timber is one-year-cut spotted gum and is still green.

Australian timbers are the hardest in the world. Many of the new ribs are made from ironbark as were the originals, some following the shape of the original roots.

Shipwrights wax lyrical about the various properties of timbers with the Aussies claiming several advantages over other nations.

“It’s quite tricky, the timber’s so hard,” Christian said. “I’m from England. Ironbark’s like the end grain of oak. It blunts your tools.”

Christian grew up in Falmouth on the Cornish coast, where a wooden boat-building tradition prospers. He did an apprenticeship as a furniture maker then moved onto boats.

“It’s pretty much the same here but better weather. We’re outside every day. We never have to have a day off. In England you put tarps over everything.”

He said the work was more varied in Falmouth with jobs lasting a week or two and he jumped at the chance of a large project.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity because of the scale,” he said.

The Alma Doepel is 45 metres long and weighs 250 tonnes. 40 tonnes of timber have been shifted and 53 ribs steamed, cut, bent, glued and fitted over the past four years.

It’s heavy work and many volunteers have not lasted the distance.

“Yo! Ho! Ho! There definitely is romance,” he said.

Share on Facebook

Stay in touch with Docklands. Subscribe to FREE monthly e-Newspaper.

You must be registered with Docklands News to be able to post comments.
To register, please click here.

Docklands is Beautiful