Mayflower II Captain's Blog

Life aboard a 17th Century reproduction ship

Shutter Plank

July 12th, 2013 by Peter Arenstam

Technically, the shutter plank is the last plank fastened to the hull closing up any opening made in the side of the ship.  While the entire hull has not been closed in yet,(there are still five planks to fit and fasten on the starboard side),  the shutter plank for the port side has been fit, fastened and caulked. Hurrah.

Port side all closed up.

Port side all closed up.

Coast Guard Inspectors view the finished work.

Coast Guard Inspectors view the finished work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes the shutter plank was referred to as the whiskey plank. I believe this developed as an incentive to the yard crew. The promise of shots of whiskey passed all around when the hull was closed up was considered a motivator for the carpenters. Now-a-days, we have other incentives to get the ship closed up. Funny too,  how the Coast Guard knows just when to show up in the yard.

The stern gun door is finished but await hinges.

The stern gun door is finished but await hinges.

Here one can see the yard crew is paying the seams.  They are using two types of seam compound, white for above the waterline and brown for below the waterline. The caulking has been completed. A strand of cotton followed by a strand of oakum is driven into the open seams between the planks. Both the cotton and the oakum look like very thick strands of yarn. (sorry to pics of this just now. I will try and catch them caulking on the other side.)The oakum is sealed with the red lead primer, (it looks orange). Following the caulking the seams are payed, that is, putty is applied to fill in the seam on top of the primed oakum. The topside white compound is lighter in weight and density while the brown underwater compound is heavier, more oilier, to stand up to being under the water.

Starboard side, with a southern exposure.

Starboard side, with a southern exposure.

This is a shot of what happens to a wooden boat when it is out of the water for a long time. I believe this period of time, December through July, is the longest mayflower II has ever been out of the water in her life.

the old planks, that will remain on the hull, have dried out so that some of the oakum has fallen out of the seams. This problem is compounded by the fact that the starboard side faces the south and the sun beats down on this side of the ship all the time. To minimize this effect while the ship is at the pier in Plymouth we turn the ship once or twice a year so that the sun only beats down on a particular side for shorter periods of time. Turn the ship in the cradle really isn’t an option. (I can only image the look I would get from the launching  crew if I suggested we turn the ship around.)

Instead the yard crew has someone come and spray the lower hull with water from a hose every few hours. I guess that will work too.

The rudder is done. It is hard to get a sense for the scale of the rudder in this shot. It is 22′ long and weighs about 3,000 lbs. I think they are going to use a crane to lift it up.

The top four pintles, (the metal hardware on the rudder that holds it to the ship) are original to 1957. The lowest one was condemned by the Coast Guard but he shipyard fabricated a new one. All the hardware was sandblasted and epoxy primed to help them last as long as possible in the salt water.

Finished rudder awaiting installation.

Finished rudder awaiting installation.

Work has already started on the planking for the starboard side. The crew was making planks in the shop while it rained outside yesterday. With luck, the starboard side will be closed in very quickly. Perhaps we can have a whiskey plank, I mean a shutter plank, ceremony for this side.

 

4 Responses to “Shutter Plank”

  1. Sally says:

    Great news! Thanks for the continual hard work and for keeping us up-to-date with your progress!
    I’d join you in a shutter plank celebration when the time comes!

  2. M. Parker says:

    How much longer before she’s back in the water? I belong to a global community of large-scale soap bubble makers and we’re currently working to compile photos of each person making giant bubbles near the most well known landmark in their region. Being in Plymouth, I can think of no better backdrop for my entry than the Mayflower II. If it won’t be launched before the end of summer, is there any chance I might be permitted to stand along side it in dry dock to capture a photo? I’d love to see if I could make a bubble as long as the ship!

    • A bubble as big as Mayflower!! Maybe we could put the ship in one to protect it from further harm! That would be something to see.
      Thanks for your comment.
      As long as the current heat wave doesn’t overwhelm everyone the ship should be back in Plymouth in a few weeks. The shipyard is a private business and does not allow individuals access to their property. It is really a matter of your safety and the safety of the shipyard workers.
      Have no fear, the ship will be back in Plymouth this summer!

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