Tagged: wood

Some comments about The Project.

I was going to put a few comments here, because although they are placed on the side bar over there, a lot of people still miss them. I’d advise you to have a look to gauge the general feeling of people, both here and in the US.  But, I received a comment a few hours back that I think is straightforward, pithy, and so very well written with lovely snatches of humour that it deserves a platform all of its own.

Crimsonseas, I salute you.


I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical disney land. where as the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.

But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.

If anyone from HMP is reading this, perhaps it’s time you stop sniffing wood glue, you’re clearly more high than your neighbours in bathside.


EDITORIAL COMMENT: This blog does not condone the sniffing of wood glue, or any other substances used to fix wood together. We might like a drink now and again on a Friday night, and maybe a bag of pork scratchings, but that’s where we draw the line… OK there was that one time when someone said I could get a buzz from licking a frog, but I’m not counting that.

End of Year update. Harwich Mayflower Project a year behind schedule.

Before I round up this year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making this blog as popular as it is and for your continuing comments and emails. It is especially encouraging to get so much feedback from those of you across the pond.

As 2016 comes to an end, I’m going to do my usual end of year update and sadly report that as usual, nothing appears to be happening at the Mayflower Project. The part build which has stalled since 2014 still lies rotting in the Railway yard.

I had hoped that after their last message to this blog, someone from the Project would contact me to inform me and the readers just why there has been no progress in the build since 2014 and what the future holds. But as in the past, the project seemingly refuses to release any information at all, keeping their donators and the people of Harwich firmly in the dark.

Talking of their last message. I believe a Mr Sean day accused me of writing “ill informed garbage”. I’d just like to post a little comment here and leave you to make up your own mind about who’s talking garbage. On may 16th 2016 the Project gave an interview to British Heritage with the following statements in print:

“…go to The Railyard on George Street where you can watch the shipbuilding in action.”

“Shipbuilding began earlier this year”

Ms Lynda Chase-Gardener, a director of the Project, previously stated in the local press that the build would start in January 2016 after work ceased in 2014. Since work on the build stopped in 2014, and indeed right up to today, no work has been undertaken on the build. So why would the project say in print in May 2016 that work had started “earlier in the year” when they were fully aware it hadn’t? Why would they say “watch the shipbuild” when they were aware there was no build? I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that. Also with a reported start to the build in Jan 2016, and nothing being built, it appears they are now a year behind their planned schedule.

The piece also said “Sea trials are planned for 2018”  With no build in progress as we head into 2017 and the Project reporting they have been told it is a 2 year build, even my very basic maths can see a little issue there. Best put those plans on hold guys!

There was also a nice picture of a scale model which the Project has built. A model which may have a disliking for water. It’s been alleged that pieces of it began to fall of when it was recently displayed at a Harwich festival when it rained. Let’s think on that shall we? Ships… Water…

2016 also saw the closure of the training centre. Although touted as a “temporary” closure, there is still no news on when it is expected to re-open.

But as one door closes another opens and the Project unveiled a new visitor centre which was built using local government funding and as far as I know, no donations. So, no training centre and no ship build, but a new visitor centre. It’s not all bad!

Away from the ship build, papers were filed on 11th of November 2016 for “Termination of appointment of director”. Of course I have no idea who is leaving or why, but I feel it only fair to pass on the information. With several directors on the board, it is of course normal for them to come and go, so nothing should be inferred from this information.

As time goes on and we get closer and closer to 2020, it becomes a little worrying that the Project will be able to fulfil their promise of an ocean going replica, without a huge financial injection and a large labour force. As the year comes to a close, let’s hope they can get both.. and pretty quickly!

Frame 20 complete and Grimsby wood


I’ve been horrendously busy for a little while, so I’ve been unable to get to the Mayflower Project to follow the build for the last few weeks. Fortunately, the Mayflower shipwright, Chris Conway, took pictures in my absence and I’m putting them up here for you. Things are moving swiftly at the project and it looks like we may see the first frame (rib) up by Christmas! 

The Project recently received a consignment of timber and frame 20 has now been completed. As I wasn’t around for either of these events and I don’t really know the difference between a futtock and a haddock, (although I suppose the smell might be a bit of a giveaway), I asked Chris if he would write a few words for you about the Grimsby wood and Frame 20.  Some of the pictures below are mine and some were taken by others, but the words are all by Chris. Yep, you actually get to hear from the Shipwright building the Mayflower! OK Chris, Over to you……..

Grimsby Wood 



We have just received a delivery of English Oak from a Timber Merchant in Grimsby, this timber has been selected for the front part of the Ship’s backbone which includes the stem, and forward sections of the keel. We also have around six of the main floors and chocks that will be used for the main frames and a number of futtocks to make up two frames.

Each frame is made up of smaller parts called futtocks and these are attached to the floor timber which spans across the keel, ideally timber is chosen so that the grain runs true to the curved shape of each futtock. Although we have some logs in the yard these are not suitable for the amidships frames as the curvature is too shallow and therefore not suitable, but hopefully they will be used for the forward frames which don’t require as much curvature.

One of the benefits of buying in timber from a timber merchant is that it has already been selected for us using patterns taken from the loft floor and milled to the correct sided dimension, ready for us to cut out the correct shape.


Frame 20



We are now in the process of raising the first frame, which although wouldn’t usually happen at this stage of the build, we wanted to see how we would go about cutting each piece and work out a system to put them together and lift one in place. It also gives the visitors a visual idea of the size of the ship. This frame will be carefully blocked and shored up and will not be finally fitted until the backbone is finished and suitable datum lines established.

We have cut each futtock using a chainsaw with a modified bar with rollers that allows us to scroll round each curved line, this has proven very successful and could possibly be the way we cut all the  frame sections.


Our other option is to use the very old tilting bed bandsaw that we have in the yard, but this requires a significant amount of work to be done to get it in an operational condition which we are trying to raise funds for. Content: James Kelly. Photography: James Kelly (truck courtesy of HMP). Content: James Kelly/Chris Conway.

The Knee

On a rather dull and gloomy day in Harwich, the shipwrights and carpenters of the project continue the Mayflower build by installing the knee. The knee, as shown in the diagram below (kindly drawn for me by Tony Wilding) is a strengthening support between the deadwood and the sternpost.  The pieces numbered 1 to 3 are fill ins that will be added after the knee is in place.



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As I wander around the yard at The Mayflower Project, I’m forever taking pictures. At the moment I think I have about 800 or so. Most of them don’t make the blog, simply due to space limitations and the fact that I’ll take a dozen shots to get one good enough for the blog. So, every so often I’ll put up a few pics that didn’t make a post, but are still worth a look.  With that in mind and as something for you before the next sections of the build (the inner sternpost and the knee), here are a few pictures. Photography and content: James Kelly.


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Preserving the wood

As mentioned earlier, the shipwrights and carpenters have taken the keel apart at the scarph joint. If you look at the picture on the right, you’ll see the diagonal cut that makes up the joint. This section of the keel was removed to make it easier for them to work on the rebate.

But for the moment, they are taking the opportunity to apply a mixture of linseed oil and preservative to the wood, to help prevent weather damage. Photography and content: James Kelly.

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