Ship Building

Schooners were designed by the shipbuilders themselves; there were no blueprints, hull lines or calculated sail plans used.  A half-hull model was carved from horizontally laminated wood boards to suit the particular requirements of the projected vessel.  Details such as capacity in thousands of board feet of lumber or thousands of casks of salt fish, draft and sailing qualities were discussed at great lengths.  The half-hull model was carved to scale of 3/8 of an inch to a foot. If a new ship was successful, other vessels could be built from the same model.  Not much in the way of mechanical assistance was utilized or available in the construction of these ships, back-breaking man power and oxen would provide the energy needed.  Logs were hand-hewn to the necessary shapes for the keel and frames.  Straight logs where used for keel pieces and bent logs could be used for curves in the frames.  The planks were fastened with wood dowels to the frames and sealed tight with twisted cotton drove into the gaps.  As the wood saturated, it expanded, sealing the joints even more.  Below is a series of detailed drawings illustrating the building process of wooden schooners.  (Drawings by Jean Belliveau)

Overall view of a how a schooner hull is constructed.

A half hull scale model is carved and the contour information is extrapolated to form the hull frames.

Keel pieces are hand hewn out of logs.

The first frame is constructed on a platform over the keel.

Frames being raised into position.

Work on hull frames complete, bow sprit support carved and detail of tiller and steering rig.

Hull planking pegged to hull frames with wood dowels and twisted cotton driven in gaps of planks

Cross section view of hull and view inside the hold.

General deck arrangement and inboard profile of a typical three-masted schooner

Shaping and raising the masts

Details of the bow sprit and mast doubling.

Launching the schooner

Loading the ship with lumber.

Historic picture of a schooner under construction (From the archives)

Half Hull Model, it is unknown which ship was built from this model. (From the Belliveau family collection)

(From the Belliveau family collection)

(From the Belliveau family collection)

Half hull model bow detail (From the Belliveau family collection)

Half hull model stern detail (From the Belliveau family collection)

A stern railing stanchion from possibly the Rose Anne Belliveau (From the Belliveau family collection)


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Copyright John Belliveau 2018