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Bottled Ship Builder

West Country Trading Ketch Bessie.


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West Country Trading Ketch Bessie

Way back in 2016,when the world was normalish, the Royal Yacht Club asked the European Association of ships in Bottles to help fund raise for the UK Olympic Sailing Team by building and donating SIBs that had had the sail signed by a team member. I built two SIBs of this ship, see Build Log called ‘Going for Gold Build – Bessie’, so I won’t repeat that part of the build. I actually built 3 SIBs, using the third as a trial ship for some techniques, such as split hull, that I had not used before. Up until last year it sat on a shelf unfinished. I then thought I’d carry on with trial methods in the form of small blocks and dead eyes to see how I got on.

I made the blocks from a strip of hardwood veneer. It was a mixed packet of off the net so I’m uncertain what it actually was. The strip was 0.75 mm thick, 1 mm wide and about 10 cm long to give something to grip. I drilled 0.5 mm holes along the length at 1 mm intervals, then applied a diluted acrylic varnish to strengthen the wood strip. After clearing the holes, I filed notches all round as shown in Figure 1, then cut the blocks off. I held them in a pair of tweezers that have a sliding lock, Figure 2, to lightly sand the corners. The tweezers were then held upright in a small vice and the block stropped with thin buff thread with a touch of glue on the thread and knot.


Figure 1


Figure 2


I then set about the running rigging as shown in Figures 3 & 4. I know that these blocks are a touch too big for the scale, but it was a proof of concept. I’m happy enough with the result.

To form the dead eyes, I tried a method I saw on a page on the net somewhere a number of years ago. A small jig is made, Figure 5 left hand side. I used 0.5 mm brass rod in a bit of wood. Wire is wraped around the posts as shown. The wire is then removed, the shroud threaded through it, positioned and glued in place. The centre of the wire circles is filled in with glue mixed with black paint. I actually used thread on the jig as I did not have any wire of the correct size, and stiffened it with dilute PVA glue, removing the assembly before the glue cured completely. Figure 4 shows a close up of the dead eyes installed.


Figure 3


Figure 4


Figure 5

Figure 6 shows the completed SIB before bottling.


Figure 6

Then, CRACK, the mainmast broke in the bottleneck, Figures 7 & 8. Not a happy camper.


Figure 7


Figure 8

It took a while, but I fixed it by turning the break into a hinge using a thin piece of brass so it would not break again. Circled in red in Figure 9. The brass rod sticking out to the right is my mast holder tool.


Figure 9

Figure 10 shows it nicely bottled and dust free.


Figure 10

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