Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Reconstructing Electron

I have been following the boat-building adventures of Eamonn Doorly at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic over the last few years, in particular his reconstruction of the schooner Hebridee II - which I have covered here before. 

Hebridee II is sitting out the winter in a shelter on the waterfront.
With Hebridee II in the lean-to outside, Eamonn felt the boatshed on the boardwalk was looking a bit empty inside. Not wanting to disappoint visitors to the museum, he has begun a new project to demonstrate Nova Scotia boat-building tradition. Museum staff believe that Electron, Eamonn's latest subject, was built between 1895 and 1920 at the Obed Hamm boat shop in Mahone Bay - though he hopes to be able to narrow down the date further over the coming months. Electron herself is sitting in a tent in the museum courtyard, looking rather the worse for wear.

Electron propped up in her tent in the courtyard behind the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I don't think she has seen the water in many years.

Looking up from underneath the bow at the round hole where the mast penetrated the deck.

Looking aft.

The small cuddy cabin ahead of the cockpit.

Electron's boom still lies on deck in this photo looking forward. 

Looking forward through where the transom used to be. The stern post pokes up to the left of the photo. As with the plastic cockpit drain pipe, I'm assuming the many screws poking up through the ribs are not original. 

The original tail feather is the member in the middle of this photo, and the two members on either side are referred to as the "apron" - beams fitted to increase fastening area for the planking. The two beams on the far left and right sit on top of the ribs, so I assume they are not original.

Electron's copy is starting to take shape in Eamonn's boat shop. Eamonn cautions that while he is reusing the original keel ballast, this will be a new construction, and not a restoration. Supported by the roof of the boat shop, the boat's new Red Oak stem, and laminated Douglas Fir keel and tailfeather, plus the transom are now erected - the bow and stern supported by temporary pieces of wood, and the keel by chain leading to a chain lift in the rafters. The chain, at least, is connected to the permanent lifting points from which the finished boat will be lifted in and out of the water when she is complete.

From right to left, the new boat's Red Oak stem leads down to the laminated Douglas Fir keel and ballast, then up again to the Douglas Fir tail-feather with the transom visible at the stern. The boat's lines are drawn on the white plywood in the background.

The notch in the stem is called the "rebate" - this is where the planking joins up with the stem.

The new keel along with the reused ballast from Electron, with the cable and chain support leading to the rafters.

The tail feather on the right transitions to the transom, held together by what I assume is called the transom knee. Electron's transom had some serious "sheer", otherwise known as the angle from the vertical.
Leaning against the plywood upon which the boat's lines are drawn are several molds that will allow the new boat to match the lines and shape of the original Electron. The molds are temporary, and will only be fitted to the boat's keel until the planking is in place, and will then be removed.
Eamonn tells me that while he is using similar building techniques to the original, there are differences - the original builder did not have access to laminated building techniques such as that used in the new boat's keel, and where the new boat will be sailed, Eamonn has provided a rudder post stuffing box instead of the traditional "built-up rudder stock well".

Construction is not expected to be speedy - Eamonn intends merely to erect the bones of the new boat for the time being, as he currently has other museum projects on the go. He hopes to spend more time on her starting summer 2020. I, for one, can't wait!

Many thanks to Eamonn for answering my many questions so that this blog seems somewhat more knowledgeable that I am myself on the subject of wooden boat building. Anything herein that is technically sound is probably from Eamonn, and anything that isn't correct probably resulted from my own knowledge or lack thereof.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Shipping off Scotland's north-east coast

During my trip to Scotland at the end of September last year, we took a day trip to John O'Groats in the north-east of Scotland. The Pentland Firth is the stretch of water dividing the Scottish northern coast from Orkney, and is a pinch point for shipping traffic. On a clear day, it is a great location for ship watching.

Timed perfectly for our arrival, the container ship Godafoss made an appearance.

Godafoss with the island of Muckle Skerry in the background.
Also timed perfectly was the arrival of Pentalina, one of the ferries running between Scotland and Orkney.

Pentalina with the island of Stroma in the background.
Once inhabited, the island of Stroma was abandoned by its remaining 12 inhabitants in the 1960s. Only the lighthouse crew and their families remained, and even they finally left in 1997.

There was a bit of a beam sea running for Pentalina's final approach to the jetty.

Pentalina rolling to port. Orkney is in the background.

Pentalina rolling to starboard.

Pentalina preparing to dock.

Pentalina docking.

Mykines with Orkney in the background.
On our return trip down the coast, there were a few other ships about. At least one company appears to adhere to the "your favourite alcoholic drink plus the last seabird you saw is your ship name" naming convention.

Bourbon Tern, with Tarbet Ness lighthouse in the background.
Scotland has a number of offshore wind farms, and construction (or maybe maintenance) was continuing when we were there.

Pacific Orca on the left, with Island Crown on the right, constructing a wind farm off the Scottish north-east coast.
The MarineTraffic app on my smartphone is invaluable for determining the names of ships far offshore, beyond the range of my camera to pick out names on their bows and transoms.

This was probably the only day that I did some proper ship watching, and accounts for most of my ship photos while in Scotland, apart from a few fishing boats in Kinlochbervie.

Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Retrospective

Normally, at this time of year, I would do several posts of my favourite photos from the year, across several of my favourite subjects. I've run out of time this year, so I will settle for a single post with some of my highlights from 2018.

January saw our family's first visit to the new Halifax Oval for some skating. I managed to make it around a few times without falling down, so I count that as a win. I'm not much of a skater.

I didn't have to use one of the red contraptions to stand up on my skates, but I wasn't far from it.
MV Asterix, whose progress I keenly followed after her arrival in Halifax, was a prominent feature in the harbour during this time. Asterix is the RCN's new interim AOR, a one-stop-shop for deployed Navy ships to refuel and replenish from at sea.

Asterix heading out for some trials.
In February, I was present for the haul-out of HMCS SACKVILLE on HMC Dockyard's Syncrolift, and her transition into the Submarine Maintenance Facility there. 

SACKVILLE lifting from the water for the first time in a number of years.

SACKVILLE inside the submarine maintenance building.
My photos of SACKVILLE's refit caught the eye of the editor of Warships International Fleet Review magazine out of the United Kingdom, and my first article in that magazine covering her restoration appeared in the May 2018 issue. A second article on the addition of MV Asterix to the RCN fleet followed in the July issue, and two more articles are slated for 2019. This partly accounts for my reduced blogging frequency in 2018. 

March saw the formal ceremony welcoming MV Asterix to the RCN fleet. I was fortunate enough to be invited, and toured the ship a couple of times during the winter and spring.

The crew lines the rail prior to the ceremony.

Asterix's civilian master, centre, with Vice Admiral Ron Lloyd to his left.
In contrast, March also saw the final departure of the former HMCS ATHABASKAN - on her way to the breaker's yard.

Athabaskan's final depature. 
Ospreys aren't a common sight in downtown Dartmouth, at least not when you get away from the harbour. When someone told me back in April that there was an osprey eating a fish on top of a utility pole on Thistle Street, I had to grab my camera and take a look. I wasn't disappointed.

The first Sunday in May is Battle of the Atlantic Sunday, and in recent years I have participated by photographing the service and committal ceremony off Point Pleasant Park - this year from HMCS HALIFAX. In a pleasant change from last year, the weather was actually conducive to taking the ship out, instead of observing the ceremony alongside back in HMC Dockyard (inside a very crowded hangar).

Service on HALIFAX's flight deck.

Committal of ashes.
In June, I checked in on the progress of SACKVILLE's refit and hull repairs. At the time, she was painted in red primer ("red lead"), and work was continuing.

SACKVILLE's hull coated in "red lead".
June also saw the first visit to Halifax of the Portuguese sail training vessel SAGRES II in many years. This was one of the high points in a year with relatively few Halifax port calls by ships of foreign navies.

SAGRES II approaches the quay.
In July, I heard that the schooner Amasonia was being rebuilt and would soon relaunch from Bill Lutwick's boatyard in Indian Point, NS - a short jaunt from the family cottage. Of course, I had to visit and take some photos - Amasonia was a prominent feature on our stretch of the LaHave River when I was a kid.

Amasonia in Bill Lutwick's boat shop.
The end of August and early September saw the family driving to, around, and from the Magdalen Islands (Les Iles de la Madeleine), located at the end of a five hour ferry crossing from Souris, PEI. The beautiful scenery and friendly people made for an enjoyable visit, and my camera was seldom not busy documenting the landscape. My earlier blog post on this trip can be found here.

Lighthouse at Cape Alright with Entry Island in the background.
In September, I checked in on SACKVILLE, still in the maintenance building. Her hull repairs were complete, and workers were putting the finishing touches on her new paint job.

A worker paints on the draught markings at SACKVILLE's stem.
My commercial shipping photography has been lagging behind other subjects this year, but I did manage to grab a few well-timed shots of YM Moderation on my way home from capturing SACKVILLE.

YM Moderation heading up the harbour, approaching my vantage point on the Macdonald Bridge.
In the first of several instances where I regretted not taking my proper camera on my daily walk in Public Gardens, I had to run back to my office so that I could get pictures of a Great Blue Heron standing on top of the Titanic model floating in the pond there. 

This was one hazard that the original Titanic didn't have to contend with.
September was fairly busy - it also saw the launch of the first of the new Arctic & Offshore Patrol Vessels, the future HMCS HARRY DEWOLF.

Harry Dewolf, with the after two-thirds of the future HMCS MARGARET BROOKE on the hard in the background.
The end of September into early October saw me in the UK, kicking around the roads of northern Scotland. Based in Dornoch, I made multiple day trips all across the north, including one overnight trip with a stay in Kinlochbervie. I will hopefully post a blog specifically about this trip, but for now I will just link to my image gallery on Smugmug.

A boat house on Loch Stack.
In October, shortly after I returned home from Scotland, I returned to HMC Dockyard to witness SACKVILLE's return to the water. Looking pretty smart in her new paint job, it took three attempts spread over several weeks to accomplish her re-floating - small leaks scuppered the first two attempts. 

SACKVILLE returning to the waters of Halifax Harbour.
For the last few years, friends and I have gone out to photograph Nocturne, the once-a-year nighttime art festival in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth. 

The NS Potters Guild were set up in the Lieutenant Governor's house. 
The autumn colours were still in full swing at the start of November, ensuring that Public Gardens was still a pleasant stroll despite the cooler temperatures. 

Halifax Public Gardens.
Not two weeks later, however, things looked a little different in the city.

This tree set against a brick building, across from the old Halifax Central Library, frequently draws my attention.
And a week or so after this, I had to go to another place that was experiencing snow - Alberta.

Alberta field.

Alberta field.
These last two photos were taken with my new toy, a Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens (24mm on APS-C). Though relatively inexpensive, it appears to be sharp from corner to corner, and is my new primary lens that gets left on the camera body most of the time.

2018 saw the retirement of the CH-124 Sea King from Canadian service, with the final flights on the West Coast. It is therefore now more common to see the new CH-148 Cyclone flying overhead in Halifax.

Catching the blur of the rotor blades of a moving helicopter from a moving platform such as the ferry can be challenging - at 1/80th of a second my photos are usually blurry, so I now try for 1/100th or slightly faster. 
Come December, it is time for the Dartmouth Tree Lighting, which this year was accompanied by fireworks off Alderney Landing. These images were taken hand-held using the aforementioned new Sigma lens.

Public Gardens continued to be a draw for me, both before and after the next major snowfall. 

Still-green foliage along the shore of a frozen pond.

I caught this while the still-falling snow was clinging to the trees and their branches, before wind and melt could take it away.
I finished the year off with some abandoned building exploration, which is always a favourite subject of mine.

Looking up an elevator shaft.

Looking back, 2018 was quite eventful for me, even though it seemed like a long slog at many times along the way. Hopefully 2019 will be just as eventful, but perhaps a little less trying.