12th December  2013

Our volunteers don’t just build locks, they build boats to pass through them as well.
(Photo © John Lower)

This is New Dawn, the first Cuckoo boat (unique to the Chesterfield Canal) to be built for over 80 years.

New Dawn is a massive beast, over 70′ long.

Here Kath and Mick are talking to David Bownes, the architect of the project.
The post in the middle is the Lutchet. It comes in four parts and will hold the sail when the boat goes on the River Trent as well as being the point to which the towing rope is attached. 3″ of pitch will be poured into the bottom of the boat.

This is the fore cabin.

This is the rudder or elum, not yet complete. Note the eye on the lower bracket.

This is the stern post. Note the metal peg over which the eye on the rudder bracket will sit.
Contrary to popular myth, the rudder may not be switched to the other end. Unlike the stern, the stem is rounded. Apparently the practice of putting the rudder on the stem is referred to as “arseholing” and was banned in the 1780s.

This is prepared oakum being warmed because it is a cold day. The full preparation method involves immersing the oakum in a bucket full of tar and then heating it up.

It is used for caulking. The timbers have been planed to leave a gap or caulking arris.

Michael proudly bears Billy Tomlinson’s caulking hammer. This dates back to the 1880s when Billy was a boat builder at West Stockwith.

Here Michael demonstrates how the oakum is hammered into place. He told me that you can tell when it is right because the sound changes. This  seems unlikely but is dead right. It is an incredibly loud booming sound. The nearest thing that I have heard to it is the call of a Bittern.

Oakum in place.

Is this not fantastic? By my reckoning, they have at least 450′ feet to do just along the sides. Then the whole boat has to be rolled and they will caulk the bottom. By the way, the zig-zag is called a scarf joint.

There are some bits of the hull with little squares cut out. These are where knots in the wood have been removed.