Who is responsible today for the 3 17th century ships that brought the first settlers to Jamestown?
Mr. Eric Speth claims that job. He manages the Maritime Section of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and recently shared with the JCC Rotary Club details of the research, design and construction of the modern recreation of the Godspeed, the largest of the ships, necessitated by decay of the original over the years.The work was carried out in a shipyard in Rockport, Maine, due to it being the last remaining yard in the country capable of doing heavy wood marine construction, using the old techniques. A typical task for them is to bend wooden beams up to a foot thick by saturating them with steam to soften the natural glue holding the fibers together. Without this preparation, the wood would split, not bend, as it was forced to conform to the outlines of the hull. Lead ballast was made integral with the keel to add stability for ocean voyages.
We wanted a vessel built with olden techniques which would serve as a floating museum, said Mr. Speth, while at the same time proving durable, safe, seaworthy in bays and at sea, and not require replacement for a long time. This means no short cuts. To crew such a vessel, 15 to 17 men would have been required to handle sails. Men with muskets might also prove useful on these lonely shores...
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