Ship Building on a Small Scale
Lebanon resident Arthur Sauvigne and I were playing golf and he mentioned a project that he just completed. He showed me some photos of The Flying Cloud and I thought this would make a great story.
Arthur spends his spare time in the winter months cozied up near a wood stove in his basement workshop building model ships. He started when he was 12 years old.
“I was fascinated with ancient sailing technology and soon came to learn that colonial American maritime construction, hull design and rigging experiments were the finest in the world,” Arthur told me. “American ships were admired by the Royal and French navies and much of early hull design was based on the works of Scandinavian-American Christoph Bergh. It is amazing to consider the world was discovered and mapped with the power of the wind.”
The Flying Cloud built 1851 in East Boston and sold to Grinell and Minturn of New York City for the California Gold Rush. It set a speed record on it’s maiden voyage – New York to San Francisco 89 days 8 hours. The typical voyage took more than 200 days. My model ship’s keel was laid Dec 2015 and the rigging finished May 2017. Model is made of mahogany and walnut planks with yellow birch masts and spars. There are over 1,200 lines, tie offs and bends through pulleys and sheaves and deadeyes. This was my most complex model rigging wise. The scale is 1:96.
“Now I have to build a case for it and find someplace to display this beauty”, Arthur says. “She is 37.5 inches long, 27 inches high and 11 inches wide. Sorta' large for a shelf.”
Arthur’s next projects include a 1:96 scale model of the USS Constitution, a 1:24 scale model of a New England style in-shore fishing schooner called a Pinky and a 1:64 scale copy of the Pride of Baltimore — a topsail schooner.
Here are some photos of other models Arthur has built.
The bark-rigged whaler Charles W Morgan is still active at the Mystic Seaport. This was Arthur's most detailed ship to build with 7 whale boats, five of which are completely outfitted with lines, buckets gaffs, spear points, harpoons, oars and tillers. There is also a lot of deck furniture with cabins, vegetable storage, hurricane cabin, head, boiling off hearth, and blacksmith forge. The original was built 1841 in New Bedford. The model is 1:64 scale and 33 inches long, 25 inches high. The whale boats are 5 inches long.
The American light frigate Rattlesnake was built at Plymouth Mass in 1780. She was financed as a private venture to serve as a 20 six pound gun privateer during the American Revolution. Well designed, stable and fast she captured well over two million dollars of British ships and goods on her first two voyages. Humiliated by her small size, speed, light armament and early success, the Royal Navy ordered her captured at all costs; she was captured off NY harbor in 1783 and sold to the French coastal lumber trade in 1787. The original was small—only 89 feet long. The model is 1:64 scale —28 inches long 18 inches tall. She is made out of basswood planks and bulkheads and maple masts and spars with brass cannon barrels
The US Privateer Prince de Neuchatel was built by Noah and Adam Brown in Greenpoint NY and was commissioned in 1812 by President James Madison to harass and capture British shipping. Her hull design was innovative and called a hermaphrodite topsail schooner. It had a crew of 120 of whom many were Marine sharpshooters. The model is set on oak shipways and is 1:64 scale. It is 37 inches long and 26 inches high. The hull is clad in copper strips and cannons are brass.