Now the 1/12th scale model is essentially complete, with only the leeboards left to make. It was fun to build, and gave some idea of the challenges we'll encounter in the real version. I used 1/8th inch plywood for the most part. It is certainly true that with all these full sheets of plywood everywhere the design is quite self-squaring. I faired off the joints with bondo and gave it a couple coats of oil paint in my favorite color scheme. Today the sails arrived in the mail from Matthew Wright, VSFP's valued Brattleboro collaborator, and they are beautiful and a real treat to put on. It does look the part of a miniature Thames barge now, at least to my eye. Matthew and I have been discussing rigging a lot lately, as we are approaching the time when design decisions need to be made. One of the questions we are wrestling with is amateur-freindliness, and the degree to which going aloft would be necessary. Balanced into the discussion are various project-specific features of value, most crucially, the easy-drop rig.
When the Lois McClure sailed to the Hudson a crane unstepped and restepped the masts on either side of the bridge-festooned Champlain Canal. This is not an affordable proposition for our enterprise--we need to be able to strike and reset our rig while underway, or at least unassisted while moored. While I have never seen a Thames Barge lower its massive rig by means of its forestay, it's apparent from the design how this might be done. Fantastically, the model shows this feature beautifully. Robin, age 5, was able to lower and re-raise the mast with ease! When loosening on the forestay, the entire mainmast and every sail attached to it lowers in a controlled, orderly way to the deck, which on the full-scale model would reduce our height from 37' to 13'. Striking the mizzen would reduce this even further.