The new James Caird, photographed a few days ago
An important attraction of the show this year is a recreation of the small ship’s boat that Sir Ernest Shackleton and his small crew used to reach Elephant Island, the James Caird, which is currently being built by students of the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) at Lowestoft. We saw it during a brief visit to the college last week, and were made very welcome – the college is always pleased to receive visitors.
I was particularly amazed by the scale and diversity of the traditional boatbuilding projects under way at the IBTC, and will be writing more about it shortly.
At the Beale Park show students are scheduled to work on the James Caird’s deck beams and caulking. If you don’t know the story, after Shackleton’s expedition ship Endurance became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea he and 28 men crossed a chaotic maze of ice in three salvaged boats and finally a small group including Shackleton sailed across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia to safety and to organise the rescue of the rest of the crew. The successful journey stands as one of the most impressive small boat voyages ever made – there were gales almost all the way, and it took 17 days of constant constant pumping and chipping ice from the hull and rig to prevent capsize before the little boat landed at South Georgia.
Three of the crew then climbed a four thousand foot mountain climb before staggering into Stromness whaling station to raise the alarm.
Commissioned by The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, the new James Caird is to be used by by an expedition to re-create the voyage and mountain climb led by environmentalist and explorer Tim Jarvis.
The original boat was constructed of Baltic pine on steamed elm frames; in the absence of these, the students are using European larch on steamed oak. She is copper fastened with keel stem and a stern of grown oak. The students have planked her to the same original sheer and then built up with a further three planks in the same way as the original James Caird, and she will be decked in and canvassed. Caulking will be with cotton and she will be paid up with white lead putty, and then the whole boat will be painted white.
For more intheboatshed.net posts on the James Caird voyage and project including stunning photos of South Georgia, click here.
For more intheboatshed.net posts relating to the Beale Park Thames Boat Show, click here.
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