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Bottled Ship Builder

Generic Brigatine


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Hi All

At long last I’ve finished my brigantine. I’ve mentioned before that it was shipwrecked when launching it into the bottle, when I dropped it. Of course it landed upside down and broke both masts and bowsprit. Photo below (before launch). This is the first SIB I started making, and it’s undergone a lot of changes over the years as I used it to develop techniques. There is not a lot of wood left in the hull under the paint now  and it has had several different styles of masts and hinges, including the last. I put it to one side after the last mishap, but decided to finish it, with some more changes during the repairs:

  • New masts, spars and bowsprit

  • Masts have Hinckley Hinges instead of located in a dip in the deck using a thread – I found that they had a tendency to rotate.

  • Crosstrees instead of tops

  • New railings all round

  • Addition of Catheads

  • New ‘decking’

  • A new suit of sails

  • Windlass instead of a capstan

  • Boat stowage on the deck house roof rearranged

  • Deckhouse scuttles (portholes) ‘re-glazed’ with very pale blue instead of white,

The masts, spars and bowsprit were made from cocktail sticks. I drilled the required rigging holes before taking down to size and forming the Hinckley hinges.

The bowsprit was relocated to a new position – mounted on the forecastle instead of inserted under it.

I decided to try crosstrees instead of tops to get a bit of practice in the use of styrene.

The railings were constructed from styrene, as were the catheads.

The ‘decking’ was done in Powerpoint, sized, and printed off, cut out and stuck down (a real cheat).

The sails were also done in Powerpoint, and printed on a sheet of 90gm craft paper. This is sort of buff coloured and has a parchment like pattern already on it. As the colour goes all the way through there are no white edges. Overall, I think the effect gives the impression of salt stained canvas. They were then bent on to the spars by punching the holes with a pin and using fly tying thread with the end stiffened in CA glue to facilitate threading.

The spanker was attached to the mizzen using mast rings made from slices of styrene tube drilled out to reduce the wall thickness and then painted.

The gaff and boom are located using threads through the mast.

I made the windlass from a cocktail stick and some styrene sheet – I think it’s a big but I’ll accept it at present.

So in it went. All I have to do is a stand instead of the working one I use, and a bit of rope work around the neck.

Sixteen years from start to bottle.

All the best for the hols and a Happy and Prosperous New Year



As it was before shipwreck


new deck, catheads and railings


Repairing the port cathead


New masts and bowsprit







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  • 2 weeks later...


Thanks for the likes and comments. Much appreciated.

It started life as my first attempt using one of the set of plans ( the Collier Brigantine)  in Leon Labistour's Book; Making Ships in Bottles - I started to add and change things as I went for practice. As John said, more of an upgrade. The deck planking is drawn in Powerpoint and printed. I've attached it below if anyone wants to us it - just shrink and grow as required. I now use scored wood or cut planks. The sea is plasticene 'varnished' with several coats of diluted PVA glue to give it a shine, however I studied photos of waves, wind direction and wakes plus my own observations when I was at sea. I was trying to get the wind and sea coming from the port quarter, can't have too big waves or the sails would be reefed/furled or the ship would be right over. But it was time to retire it to a happy life in a bottle, and use another as a practice SIB.

All the best for the New Year to everyone.



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