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I know, I know I am supposed to building the 6 Gun Cutter LEE, and I am! However I saw the plans for this little dream and was interested. When I read her history I knew she was mine! This little build would also give me some plank work of which I have never done. Lap strake to boot. (If you're gonna go, go big!) The entire model will be from raw materials. Total cost about $10, maybe. The Island Belle was one of maybe 50 or so "Block Island Boats." She was mostly open except for a small area planked in to form a small cabin. and her cargo area could be shut. She carried beach rocks for ballast which could be tossed over the side. Interesting huh. She was 23 feet long and drew 5 feet of water. She was two masted with no shrouds or stays. What got me about the Belle was what she was used for. For a number of years she was the only means of communication between Block Island and the mainland. She carried the US Mail, packages, live stock, Grandfather clocks, wood the list goes on. No big deal except for the fact that this little work horse would make that trip in any and all weather! It seemed nothing the sea could throw at her mattered much. It was said that ships would ask the Belle to Go out and see it was safe. That is what hooked me big time. A boat and a crew so dedicated to their job they went and did it. It is rare these days to find that kind of dedication to duty. So in loving tribute and hope she will not be forgotten here is my build of the "ISLAND BELLE." I enjoy building a small model. Of course with 24 years on submarines I had to learn to do everything compact. I chose plank on solid for a few reasons. The model is small, and as this is a first planking attempt I wanted a good surface to practice. I found these plans. The text of the book gave a vague description and no other pictures except by a line drawing and the plans. I did about a week of looking into Block Island Boats. I found next to nothing Belle, however the other items I found helped me at least make some educated guesses. I do not know if I just did not look hard enough, but I could find nothing on how the boats were painted. So in another of my self lessons I will be using fine woods to bring her back to life. I travel some and when I can I find bits of this wood or that wood. I have some walnut from the tree at my Dad's place. Some maple from back home in WVa. I even found some scrap Mahogany from a dumpster outside a cabinet manufacturer. My poplar is plentiful. My wood sits in the garage curing and waiting for whatever I have in my warped little mind. Cherry is my favorite and my oldest son has a few behind the house. I transferred my plans to tracing paper, then using my band saw I cut the top and profile. I made a set of templates from card stock and began carving. Remember when you guys said never trust the plans till you check them? Well seems I forgot about that. The hull was not looking the way I thought it should and the mid section make Belle look like she was expecting. I check the plans and sure enough the stations lines were not in the same scale as the profile. Lucky for me the lines were bigger. I corrected the templates and carved her out. As she was mostly and open boat and I also wanted to show what she looked like inside I hollowed her out. I will fine tune the thickness as the planks move up. The stem, keel and stern post were then made from maple and Tiger wood, to give a hint of contrast. While I was at it I also made the rudder out of scrap bass. Got the pieces all in place and they looked so very nice. Never did a scarf before. However there seemed to be something vital I was forgetting. Hummm maybe it would come to me later. I prepared mahogany planks for the bottom strakes on the band saw. I made a special fence attachment for cutting my planks to.....to....well pretty darn thin. However when I tried to spit them in two the band saw ate them. So I made a simple jib to accurately spit them into 2.5 MM widths. Oh boy......time to plank!! I studied all I could about lap strake planking. I thought this would be a breeze. Why all the fuss about planking? 4 hours later and a small pile of splinters later and not one plank in place the thing If forgot came back to me. RABBETS! Ugg. So with nothing to loose, I chucked up one of my small triangle diamond cutters in the ole moto-tool. Just knowing disaster was looming I took the time to take some sheet aluminum and cut out the profile of the keel, stem and stern piece as one unit. I calculated the angle and using a small bevel gage I filed the angle of the Rabbet. I held the template in place and ever so gently used it to guide the diamond bit. Wow that worked out pretty good. I stated planking and it was going great except for the third plank, which just did not want to play. She he went off to the kindling bucket. So that is where I am now. More Later!! Keep a zero bubble! Going Deep!
I am determined to see this to some sort of completion. I have modeled now for 30 years however this is my first ever wooden ship from scratch. I choose the Anchor Hoy for a few reasons. 1. Looks Strange. 2. Easy to Build, (I hope.) 3. This little ship has more meaning than just being a ship. Think about it. All the Clippers, Men-O-War, Whalers all rely on the unsung small boats that day in and day out did and still do most of the work. 4. I wanted to see if a quality model can be made in small scale. I have seen in kit instructions and other places where something is "too small to be considered do-able." I also wanted this project to show that a nice looking wooden ship model can be produced for under $50. I am using the plans from AMERICAN SHIP MODELS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM. I began by transferring the profile and station lines to tracing paper and the n using transfer paper, I drew the lines for the hull on a 8"X6"X2" basswood block. The station lines were drawn on thick plastic stock and cut using a #11 Blade. With the lines drawn I sawed the profile on my small band saw. Once that was done I remarked the station lines and carved and sanded the hull to shape using the plastic templates I made. Careful if you are building tiny models. One little slip of the file or even sandpaper means lots of "Do it Again." I attempted to add the Keel, Stem and Rudderpost using thin bass wood. Well that was a disaster as the thin weak wood went to pieces if you looked at it wrong. I tried about every wood I had, but it either broke to easy or I could not bring myself to painting fine wood. So, I have used plastic card for the stem, and keel. Not my favorite option, but now I have some strength in this important part. I now used the same thin basswood sheet to make the deck. Boy did I sweat this one! I drew the deck out and then scribed the lines. Holy Cow! That process took forever and by the end I was exhausted. I looked at my work and went "I sure did a great job. Too bad you can't see the lines. So I read through the forums and consulted books on how to make the lines visible and accurate. In a moment of "Oh well what have I got lose," I sprinkled Vallejo Burnt Umber Pigment on the deck and rubbed it in. Hoping against hope I brushed the excess off and then with 0000 steel wool rubbed out the rest. I was very impressed. As this is a working vessel doing work with greasy chains, mud, tar, and whatever else I made the deck used and dirty. I then went over the entire with three light coats of Danish Oil which was then buffed with the same 0000 steel wool. I made hatch covers and coming in basswood and they look 100% US Grade A Terrible. So they had to go and will be replaced by hatches of plastic card. The companion way is made of reclaimed cherry, and still needs a bit of detailing done. The transom and support knees are right from the plans and made of basswood and card. The one thing I most dreaded were the low Bulwarks. I cut my 2mm strips of basswood and boiled those for 5 minutes. I then wrapped them around a can and secured them with rubber bands. When dry I was surprised that they fit perfectly and glued in with not one bit of trouble. I have given the hull a Yellow Ochre coat to find any flaws. Oh and I found a bunch that need some attention. So, onward I march. More later shipmates. Don Author of OF ICE AND STEEL and EPITAPH