|Building a brigantine|
The production of these vessels required the skills of various tradesmen and industries, beginning with the Shipwright who drafted the design and directed the craftsmen in their work. A great number of shipwrights were born with shipbuilding in their blood. From an early age they received hands-on training in the family shipyard, many of these yards having been passed down from generation to generation. Others honed their skills through an apprenticeship. Ship design required a genius for mathematics and geometry with its countless calculations. A shipwright had to assure the ship would float, taking into account the hull’s volume and height. He strove to increase the vessel’s forward motion while carrying a maximum amount of cargo. And he must have a talent for drawing and drafting to create the life-sized patterns the builders would follow. Although it took about 20-30 craftsmen and able-bodied workers to complete a vessel, it was the master shipwright who remained in control.
Once plans had been drawn, Sawyers were hired, also known as “saw gangs.” These men were sent to chop down oak and pine timbers to match the drawing’s measurements. They cut the wood to the pattern’s size and seasoned the planks. White pine made for the choicest masts, while yellow pine was best used for decks for its high resin content and resistance to sun and salt. Hackmatack roots were utilized for their naturally crooked growth. They fashioned the angular pieces and gave strength to “knees” which supported deck timbers and braces.
|Driving in the trunnels|
|A launch in 1751|
Lisa Norato is the author of Prize of My Heart, an inspirational seafaring historical from Bethany House. A life-long New Englander, Lisa lives in a historic village with homes and churches dating as far back as the eighteenth century.