Dutchman

Luna updates

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http://www.dailypress.com/features/dp-gl_p...0,7289589.story

The first time John Glass decked himself out in pirate gear, he thought his stint as a living history interpreter would only last a weekend.

All the Hampton man wanted was the chance to add a little authentic character to his seafaring town's first Blackbeard Pirate Festival — which he was helping stage alongside the parade of tall ships that came for OpSail 2000.

Then his flirtation with the past would be over.

Nearly 10 years later, however, the retired Army officer and environmental engineer has not only failed to hang his cutlass up but also spends much of his spare time perfecting his depiction of an early 18th-century buccaneer. When he's not doing that, he can often be found alongside other members of the living history group known as Blackbeard's Crew, leading them in their attempt to build their own pirate ship.

Measuring nearly 50 feet from stem to stern, the two-masted Luna is no small wooden boat — and its transformation from a decaying 20th-century yacht into a convincing replica of an early 18th-century topsail sloop is no small endeavor. But with lots of sweat and a healthy measure of public generosity, Glass and his comrades hope to have its frames rebuilt, its lines reshaped and its rigging raised in time to help Hampton celebrate its 400th birthday in 2010.

"I'd like to see a colonial sloop docked in downtown Hampton. It's one of my dreams," Glass says. "And if we do almost all of it with volunteer labor, we think we can get it done for about $250,000."

A longtime resident of a neighborhood overlooking Hampton Roads, Glass has never had to go farther than his back yard to find reminders of the region's unusually rich past.

"I can see where the Battle of the Ironclads was fought in the Civil War. I can where the Susan Constant and the first Jamestown settlers landed at Strawberry Banks. I can see where the first shipload of Africans unloaded at Old Point Comfort," he says.

"Not everybody has a feel for it. But I like history. And I like thinking about the trials and tribulations — and successes — of the people who came here before us."

Not until preparations began for OpSail 2000, however, did Glass' interest in local history lead him to begin re-creating the past.

He volunteered for the first pirate festival so quickly — then served with such energy and drive — that he became the chief force behind the living history programs that celebrated Hampton's historic role in the 1718 demise of Blackbeard the Pirate.

In addition to recruiting living history interpreters and setting up a bustling pirate camp, Glass pushed forcefully for re-enacting the renegade sailor's last sea battle — a feat that required considerable advance choreography between the vessels as well as among the combatants. It also meant tackling a long list of tasks that ranged from organizing swordplay lessons to meeting Coast Guard safety regulations.

In the end, the make-believe clash on the Hampton River sparked such an enthusiastic response that the one-time event was reborn as one of the area's most popular annual festivals.

"John didn't want to do Disney pirates. He didn't want to do cartoon pirates," says Carlyle Bland, who helped organize the event for the downtown merchants association.

"When he said he wanted to re-create the sea battle, I thought he was crazy. But he pulled it off."

Glass also had so much fun that he and his group not only returned each year but also looked for ways to make their programs more authentic and engaging.

Never fully satisfied with the vessels they'd hired for the festival in the past, they began looking for a boat of their own a few years ago.

Though Hollywood has made the square-rigged sailing ship a staple of pirate films, records show that the most common vessel during the golden age of buccaneers was the smaller, simpler and much nimbler sloop, Glass says. Its speed and seaworthiness made it the prevailing merchantman of the times, and — with the addition of a few deck and swivel-mounted guns, it could out-sail and outfight virtually anything except a naval vessel.

"It was the 18-wheeler of its day and — in the best of all worlds — we'd have built one," he explains. "But when we got an estimate, it was $1.5 million. That seemed like an awful lot of money."

Far more affordable was the alternative the band of living historians finally settled on in 2007 after deciding to transform an existing vessel.

Constructed of traditional plank on frame in 1972, the Canadian yacht Luna lay under a pungent blanket of sea gull droppings when a small inspection crew first saw it in Florida more than 16 months ago. Its deck was soft and spongy, its engine seized and many of its ribs and beams needed replacing, says shipwright John Collamore III, who operated a Deltaville boatyard for more than 30 years.

Still, the thick cedar planking remained in surprisingly good shape — and the sheer lines from stem to stern had not hogged or twisted. No sign of wrack could be detected as the eye moved from port to starboard — leaving the hull well-balanced in the water.

Much of what was rotten had to be removed anyway, Collamore says, in order to transform the yacht into the kind of topsail sloop that Blackbeard sailed in his last battle. And best of all, the owner was willing to sell it to a good home for only $1.

"She had the shape we were after. She hadn't lost her lines," Collamore says. "But even for a dollar, it's a hell of a project."

Even among the dedicated members of Blackbeard's Crew, the seven people or couples who ponied up $1,100 each to pay for trucking the boat to Virginia were considered so impassioned that they quickly became known as the "Lunatics."

Peanut farmer Thom Ivey drives all the way from Emporia to the small Middlesex farm where the 25-ton boat is set up on jacks under a protective cover. Information technology consultant Pernell Taylor, who became the pirates' leader after three years of admiring their efforts from the sidelines, treks up from Virginia Beach.

Dozens of other volunteers have joined the recently founded Colonial Seaport Foundation — some because of their previous interest in pirates, others because of their passion for traditional plank-on-frame boats. They range from a chiropractor to a policeman and — since late 2007 — have combined to put thousands of hours into the labor-intensive project, including 300 hours logged by Williamsburg resident Steve Madsen alone.

Stripped to its ribs and planking, the Luna will be repaired first — with many old rotten frames chiseled away and replaced with carefully fitted new members. Then the stern will be raised and the flat transom swapped out for the overhanging counter of an early colonial sloop.

The bow will require a makeover, too, in order to mimic the bluff, much more bulgy look of a circa 1700 merchant vessel. But other than a small aft cabin and a cargo hold designed to double as classroom space, there will be no other changes.

"The sloops of the day were built as economically and efficiently as possible — and they had short, profitable lives," Glass says. "So we're trying to keep it simple."

Such straightforward lines will give Maryland naval architect Charles Neville a considerable leg up when he begins the complex calculations needed to produce an authentic-looking sail plan yet also provide the stability needed to pass Coast Guard regulations.

Since few period sloops were designed to survive big storms, the problem makes for "an interesting exercise in mathematics," he says. "Without computers I wouldn't touch it."

Harder still may be the effort to keep the Luna afloat after she's completed.

Working with his wife, Karen — a Hampton teacher — Glass is developing a maritime history educational program designed to attract school groups. He also foresees many busy summers in which the boat will sail from port to port, entertaining and educating visitors at waterfront festivals across the mid-Atlantic.

Exactly where the Luna will sail from remains to be decided. But the single-minded Glass and his determined comrades simply see it as another job to be crossed off their list.

"We have a few friends in Hampton. That would be an obvious choice. But we're still looking for a home," he says. "And that means going wherever we can get the most support."

News to Use

Blackbeard's Crew and the Colonial Seaport Foundation are scheduled to conduct an "Invasion of Yorktown" May 2 and present an assortment of living history programs — including a pirate encampment and a sea battle — at the Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Hampton June 5-7.

Visit their Web sites at www.blackbeardscrew.org and colonialseaport.org for more

Edited by bbcddutchman

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Awesome stuff Dutch.... I can see a ton of improvement to her as compared to when I saw her back in October!

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....was that a cannon carriage that was being built at the end of the video there? :rolleyes:

Oh. Luna looks good too. :huh:

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Great to see things are moving along ....you're all doing a wonderful job on her can hardly wait to see her in may/june

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Congrats to the Blackbeard Crewe! She's coming along very nicely.

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here is todays load of wood. no drooling please.

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7- 1/8ths by 16ft by no less than 14 inch wide white cedar. let the new siding begin!!!! we got pick of the pile!!!

Edited by bbcddutchman

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Oi I want to see a picture of Dad

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come to the festival and see the miracle man yerself! hey a side show!!!! we can have the boat paid off in no time.

he would have my hide if i posted a pic of him. i really want to do a before and after, but he put his foot down.

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come to the festival and see the miracle man yerself! hey a side show!!!! we can have the boat paid off in no time.

he would have my hide if i posted a pic of him. i really want to do a before and after, but he put his foot down.

edit* hey wait. dad is in the second one. i'd recognize that gloved mit anywhere.

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smart arse...

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these are port side photos of the new quarter deck going on this weekend. equal progress is being made on starboard. the new hull is going to rake forward about eight feet past where you can see Graces head in the top photo. She is actually notching out the bullocks so we can splice and extend the ribs.

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Edited by bbcddutchman

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You need to post lots more pictures of the lot of you working on Luna ....we can hardly wait to see her when we come down in a few weeks!!! B)B)B)

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The problem being, Dutch takes lousy pictures and Grace is to busy working to take any herself... **wicked grin**

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TARRR BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ah thank goodness! Ladies and Gentlemen- may I introduce Jack Tarrr the projects fixer of all things broke and the crewmember with the most hours in other than the shipwright! Looks like you all made a wee bit of progress today. So what were looking at is the aft cabin being built up. There are good shots of frames 16 back to I think 22 or 23, then the beginnings of the rebuilt transom. You can see forward of the new frames where weve had to notch the bullocks so we can add in taller supports.

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Actually, those are shots I took last week. Only got 2 planks added on today - one 16' has a serious amount of curve and upward sweep so it took a lot of time to plane it right.

Kilty got most of the old planking off the port side down to the rub rail so now I have lots of room to work in the new planks. Just takes so darn long to get them right and tight, but hey we like 'em tight.

Thanks for the intro.!

Edited by Jack Tarrr

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:DJack, welcome aboard lad! Hope all is safe and secure at the "shipyard" ....Will we being seeing you in Hampton? I've got a flagon of rum with your name on it!!!

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The shipyard is safe and secure - just really soggy after all the rain we've had!

I will absolutely be in Hampton - someone has to help Dutch blow things up and row the Explorer! :rolleyes:

Looking forward to seeing everyone coming in for the fun - we're gonna have a grand time no matter how much rum it takes.

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and this arrived from the naval archytechy today. ain't she purdy!

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Purdy yes but you expect us to actually be able to make her look like that?

Next thing ya know yur gonna want her to float too! :blink:

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Would love to see a full set of working drawings for her particularly for the technologically minded amongst us. :blink::huh::blink:

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the shipwright has skills oh weary one.....

sides look what happened with the transom. we made the design look like what we had mocked up. plus you found that missing inch last week... so.........

edit* no problem gunner. there are six sets out and one happens to travel to events, plus the shipwright will be there to explain. the rest of us just make sawdust and toothpicks then glue em into something useful.

double edit* tarrr- i've completed the most important part of the ship anyhow. my hammoc is done- i'm laying seige to my spot thursday.

Edited by bbcddutchman

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I'll take the chance to peruse them when we come down for Hampton ....been searching for plans for a longboat for over a year now ....I'd like to make a launch the would mount up to 4 swivels and take at least 16-20 men with the option of a sailing rig .....my retirement project :huh::blink::huh::blink::huh:

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Aye lad I've been eying their site for awhile now with that very thought ....perhaps we'll do a bit of reconnoitering of the enemy shipyard? What do you think??? :blink:

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