What is a Brig?

A brig is a two masted vessel with square sails on both masts.


What is a Schooner? 

A Schooner is normally a two masted vessel with the rear mast higher than the front, with fore and aft sails. (Some schooners have more masts of equal size.) The schooner was faster than square rigged vessels particularly across the wind and to windward. They could sail approximately 45 degrees into the wind, whereas a square rigged vessel could not. Hence very useful entering and leaving a bay on the same wind.


What is a Top Sail Schooner? 

A Schooner carrying one or more square sails on the fore mast.)


Old Definitions: 

These are the normally accepted old definitions.

Boat – refers to a small craft of rowing boat size.

Vessel – a sea going boat larger than a rowing boat.

           (Hence Independence was the first vessel built in the future State of SA. 

                Indigenous canoes and Baudin’s long boat not being vessels.) 

Ship - a vessel with three masts carrying square sails.


How fast will Independence go? 

Independence will have a theoretical top hull speed of 8 to 8.5 Knots (Around 15 kph). However there are many variables when out on the ocean, wind speed and direction, wave height and direction and the amount of marine growth on the hull. (For the technical minded the formula is 1.34 X the square root of the water line length.)


How many crew will Independence need?  

Independence could be sailed by a crew of three comfortably. However the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will dictate how many crew are required and their qualifications when the vessel is passed into survey to take passengers.


How was the original Independence built? 

The original would have been “carvel’ built. Frames would have been constructed and placed in position the right way up. Thick planks would then have been nailed to these frames – edge to edge. When complete the slight gap between each plank would be plugged with oakum, cotton or other fibrous material. This process is called caulking. The material would be hammered into the gap using a “caulking mallet and caulking irons”. Over this material would be plastered with tar to seal the gap. Once the vessel was launched the wood would swell slightly and close the gap even further. However the longer the vessel stayed in the water the more the planks would work (move slightly) and leaks would start.


What is oakum? 

Oakum is old hemp or manila rope that has been unravelled and soaked in tar.


How did they make the frames of the original Independence? 

Although we do not know, as this is not recorded, it could be assumed that the frames were made in the common method of those days. This was a method of making separate pieces of timber curved in the required shape and joining them together. They would overlap each other and joined by “treenails”. Several pieces would make each frame side. These pieces are called “futtocks” and the first is joined to the “floor”, which in turn is joined to the keelson – the inner keel. (You can see this on the new Independence.)


What is a treenail?  

A treenail or “trennel” is a piece of wood, usually round like a piece of dowel, which is used to join two pieces of timber together. A hole is drilled through the two pieces of wood and the treenail hammered in. It was often split at both ends and a small wedge driven in to increase its holding power.


How is the new Independence being built? 

Our Independence is being built to survey following the Lloyd’s 100A1 rules and specifications. As Independence is being built to take passengers it has to be built this way to comply with Australian law.


Why is the new Independence being built upside down? 

Under the rules we must build a very strong vessel to pass the required survey standard. This is achieved, in part, by the use of epoxy glue. This glue is immensely strong - in fact stronger than the timber. If it was built up the right way our boat builders would be covered in epoxy! Also gravity works in our favour when placing the planking.


How do the frames differ from the original? 

Our frames are built in a similar way to the original; however we use epoxy to join the futtocks together. Initially they are screwed together until the glue cures, usually 24 to 48 hours. The screws are then removed and a hole drilled in the same place. Then a piece of dowelling hammered in with glue – similar to treenailing.


How does the planking differ? 

We are required to have a water tight hull and therefore we are building in a strip plank method with three layers of planking all layered longitudinally. The second layer will be started at the keel and therefore will be slightly offset to the first and third layer giving extra strength.


What type of wood are you using?

The hull planking is Oregon from Canada.

The frames are Spotted Gum from NSW. Spotted Gum is a very strong timber, also used for axe handles.

The keelson is the long timber running along the present top of the vessel. It is the inner keel and is a piece of Sydney Blue Gum, kindly donated by the Enterprize group from Melbourne.

The stem is the curved front section. It is in three parts and made of Box and came from the old Vivionne Bay jetty.

The transom is the transverse flat area at the back of the vessel. It is made of two pieces of 25mm marine plywood. It has a strengthening frame inside and will be dressed on the outside later with light planking.

The deadwood is the heavy timber forward of the transom and below the keelson. It is an area that consists of the stern post of kauri and other hard wood timbers infilling the area between the hull and the keelson.


Why was the old Independence built much quicker than the new?

The main reason is labour. The old vessel had a large number of crew building the vessel; with probably a number of skilled shipwrights and artisans. They would have worked long days and probably seven days a week. The new vessel is being built by a few volunteers, supervised by a local boat builder, who receives his instructions from a marine architect in Adelaide. Our volunteers only work two to three days a week; however the Boathouse is staffed seven days a week, also by volunteers. A second and important reason is that we are building to survey standard, which requires a very careful build. If we weren’t we could proceed more quickly.


Will the new Independence have sails? 

Yes she will be rigged similarly to the model on display (shown below). The model shows a fully rigged top sail schooner. A large gaff rigged main sail on the main mast (the largest one) attached to a boom at the bottom; a smaller one on the foremast, which is loose footed (no boom); several fore sails (the ones flying from the bow sprit, which is the protruding pole sticking out the front) The model also shows a main topsail, on top of the main mast; a fisherman flying from the foremast and a square topsail high on the fore mast. As the trips around the Cove may only be a couple of hours, we may not fly the upper sails, which would take time to set and furl.


Will the new Independence have an engine? 

Yes, unlike the original, the new Independence will have a 90 hp diesel driving a single propeller. We need this auxiliary power, not only to satisfy survey requirments, but to enable the vessel to safely navigate the narrow channel that leads from the wharf area to the open water of Eastern Cove.


When will the new Independence be finished? 

As our building team is all volunteers, who work generally two to three days a week, it is difficult to put a time to launch. As a rough guide it may take five years. We started the lofting process of the frames in February 2016. This was after sourcing the materials and tools.


Why are you building it? 

The idea was to create an attraction for visitors to American River and to entice more visitors to the town. It is hoped that this will improve the local economy and create more jobs. We anticipated the vessel would be of interest to visitors, not only when it is in the water, but to actually see it being built.

So far this has proved correct.


How will it be used after it is launched?

The intention is to take visitors for a sail around Eastern Cove; maybe a two hour trip in the morning and another in the afternoon. There is also possibility for short evening cruises and for weddings and parties. The income from ticket sails will pay for the upkeep of the vessel and may also have to pay for a licensed Master. Visitors will be able to participate with the crew in handling the vessel, if they wish.


How many passengers can independence carrying? 

Under present regulations Independence can carry 33 passengers in sheltered waters, like Eastern Cove and 20 outside the Cove.


Will the new Independence have a ships wheel? 

No; as shown on the model the vessel will be steered by a tiller, like the original.


How will the hull be painted? 

There are several options for finishing the hull and this will be determined later on. The oregon wood will be saturated in thin epoxy to seal the wood both inside and out. A thin layer of fibreglass will cover the hull below the water line for ease of maintenance and to keep marine worms from damaging the hull. (This fibreglass cover may cover the whole outside of the hull if necessary.) Below the water line the vessel will be painted with anti-foul paint to stop marine growth. Above the waterline could be left natural or painted.


How will the build proceed? 

When the hull is finished and the hole for the propeller shaft is drilled through the deadwood, the vessel will be turned over. All the supporting timber inside will then be removed. The engine beds and engine will be fitted; the bulkheads placed; the floor built and deck beams fitted. Many of the internal fittings; fuel and water tanks, electrics, etc. can then be fitted. The deck and the raised coach roofs are built. Lastly the masts and spars are made. These will be fitted when the vessel is outside the boathouse.


How will you turn the vessel over? 

The vessel is currently sitting on a hard back frame. We will build, at three or four stations down the length of the vessel, a strong square frame going up and over the keelson. We will brace these frames together and also brace the hull against the frames so it can not move. It is intended place rollers under this frame and roll it out of the boathouse with the aid of a tractor. Using two tractors with front end loaders we will roll the vessel onto its side; then a further rotation so it is the right way up. It will then be lined up again with the boat house, rollers placed under again and rolled back in. It will then remain sitting in the frames to keep it upright while the internal work is done.


How will you launch the vessel? 

When we take it out of the boathouse for the final time we will manoeuvre the vessel onto a rubber tyred jinker. We have three options for launching. Firstly gaining approval to launch down the old slipway, this is alongside the north side of the wharf. Secondly, with Council's permission, to launch down the boat ramp. Thirdly we can crane the vessel off the wharf. This decision will be made nearer the launch date.