Monday, July 23, 2012

Virginia's Mast

Students and staff stand beside "Virginia's" mast, donated by Orman Hines (in cap).

Determining the radius and taper of the spar.

Wesley and Kelsey squaring up the spar.

It takes a lot of muscle to remove all the wood that isn't part of the spar!

Wesley and teacher Eric Varney working on the day's blog entry.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Spars

Vocabulary word of the day-
Spar: Horizontal or vertical piece of wood that holds up the sails.

This summer at MFS we will be making spars; our goals are to make two spars and at least one frame. We will do some rigging as well. Today we cut down the sides of one spar. We also found the measurements of the radius at each of the four quarters so we could see how it will taper. Some of us worked outside in the sun for most of the day while others worked in the shed. If you would like to see what’s going on with the building of Virginia, you can come see in the freight shed. It is the big brown building in downtown Bath at the foot of Lombard Street on the Kennebec River. We hope to see you soon!
Blog entry composed by,

Kelsey Brick
Bianca D’Arcangelo

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Opening day for the 2012 Summer

 How to square the mainmast spar.  Shipwright Rob Stevens sketches of squaring the pine log into a spar are shown with return student Bianca D'Arcangelo and Kelsey Brick, a two year return and Bianca's sister

Preparing to square the spar.  Return student Caleb Burgess and  two year students Charles Mills, Wesley Blum are measuring cuts that will be made across the log grain that will allow rapid removal of large pieces using a chisel, or an an ax or adz.

Squaring the mainmast spar.  Bianca D'Arcangelo, Charles Mills are hand planing the spar, Teacher Eric Varney, Shipwright George Sprague applying an adz to the top the spar along with Caleb Burgess and Master Shipwright Rob Stevens

Friday, October 28, 2011


This stamp was recently brought to our attention by egillis indirectly through the Maine Historical Society.  It seems that the VIRGINIA has been an important piece of Maine history for many years.
The 3-cent Virginia of Sagadahock stamp commemorating the 350th anniversary of shipbuilding in America was issued on August 15, 1957, in Bath, Maine.
The stamp has for its central design a sailing vessel typical of the early seventeenth century. The State Seal of Maine, located on the upper right area, identifies the incident. Across the top of the stamp is the wording "1607 Shipbuilding 1957." The wording "The Virginia of Sagadahock," arranged in two lines, appears directly above the vessel's mainsail. The wording "Popham Colony," in two lines, is shown beneath the state seal and "United States Postage" appears across the bottom of the stamp. All of the above lettering is drawn in dark Gothic. The denomination numeral "3" in whiteface Gothic and the symbol in dark face are located in the lower right corner. Ervine Metzel, William Zorach, A. M. Main, Jr., and George F. Cary II designed the stamp.
The stamp is 0.85 by 0.98 of an inch in dimension, arranged vertically, printed by the rotary process, electric-eye perforated, and issued in sheets of seventy. The color of the stamp is purple. The printing of 120 million of these stamps was authorized.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Exchange Student Lofting

A German exchange student, Jonathan Schuetze, came to the MFS project this fall and helped with the lofting.  This blog was written by him.  Enjoy!

My name is Jonathan Schuetze,
I live in Germany in a village near Munich.
I attend a private school; it’s called Freie Schule Glonntal.
You can see something under: www.Freie Schule
I will take my final exam in 2012.

In my free time I play basketball with my friends and have done martial arts for one year. But sometimes I also work on the weekends on events. I set up chairs, tables and bars, etc.. It‘s very exhausting because sometimes I work 40 hours in two days!   

I also play guitar; I learned it by myself 1 1/2 years ago. I started songwriting 6 weeks after beginning guitar.  I also play two wind instruments. I started with a wind instrument called Tenorhorn 8 years ago; two years ago I started playing Trombone, too. I’ve been in a brass band since I started playing. We play music by Bryan Adams or “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, waltzes and music from the Oktoberfest, too.  This is traditional Bavarian music that Americans call “Oompah” happy music.  I went with the brass band to Lisbon, Portugal to play there. It was so great; the residents were enthusiastic and the atmosphere was incredible!

But now, something about my visit here in the USA in Phippsburg, ME.

My English teacher’s family lives in Phippsburg.
Jonathan Emerson asked me whether I wanted to stay with his family at Edgewater Farm to learn English. I said, “Yes!  Why not!?!”  and so I left Germany on the 13th of September and bussed up to Bath from Boston.  He also told me about a big project in Bath (Maine’s First Ship).  He said I could help them in various ways.
So, here I am!

Maine’s First Ship, the pinnace, Virginia.  The Preparation:
Rob Stevens and Will West are doing the preparation of the ship; it’s called “Lofting.”   Lofting!?!  But, what does that mean really?

Here is a small summary of what I found on the internet:
 “Lofting is the process of drawing the hull lines full size from the designer’s scale drawings. The intersections of the contours of various horizontal and vertical sections are measured from an imaginary “base line” using an architect’s scale. These junctions are then laid out, point by point, in their full size. Because it is difficult to take accurate dimensions from a small drawing, it is necessary to adjust these lines to assure that they are “fair.” A listing of these points is called a table of offsets. It takes a lot of space to loft. This, along with the difficulty, makes it a daunting task and a real drag to those
builders who just want to get at the “wood.” All GLEN-L designs have full size lofting required.”  (
For example this piece of the ship is called a” stem”.  It is connected to the keel and it forms the bow from a boat.

Each part has lines on the top of it, which have to agree with the lines on the floor!

The stem is constructed from four different forms.

But before the 4 forms get fixed, they are painted red on the side where a special glue is applied.
The special glue, called “bedding” is a mix from three different substances - they are all natural and they were used 400 years ago!
They are: pine tar, horse hair and cow manure.

After painting and bedding, the forms get bolted so that they can’t move and it gives the stem more strength!

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Bows are Up

Amazing progress continues on the boat shed behind the Freight Shed.  Will, Rob and the many wonderful volunteers continue getting the bows put together and up.  Five bows are up and the remaining 17 are ready to go up as the weather clears, probably this weekend.  The lofting has begun on the front of the boat.  The shipwrights will then be able to make the front frames for VIRGINIA. 
Rob is working on the stem and Will is crafting the transom. 

We are looking forward to Bath’s Autumn Fest on October 8th where we will be celebrating another fabulous year.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Computers Returned

Two of VIRGINIA's frames glisten leaning against the historic freight shed in the sun of this beautiful September morning.  How proud the volunteers, students and shipwrights should be when they look at these beautiful frames.

Joel Austin Director of  BRCTC

First Bent Up
Once again we heartily thank the RSU#1 school district for their support for the Maine's First Ship's educational building project of VIRGINIA.   RSU#1 loaned us MLTI laptop computers to use for the blogging, video editing, photo editing, emailing and researching .  Without this help, we would not have been able to succeed with the "high technology" piece of the project.