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  1. Installment 1 After I completed my self designed model of a Freedom Sloop I wanted to finally tackle my long held desire to build a mid Seventeenth Century VOC ship. (VOC stands for Verenigde OostIndiesche Compagnie or United East-Indies Company, chartered by the Dutch States General in 1602 and dissolved in 1800 due to bankruptcy). I liked the looks of ships of that era best and to honor my father and my wife’s father, both died in the wool seamen. My father wanted to study for seamanship in one of the Dutch Merchant Marine Academies. However, due to circumstances not of his own doing he joined the Navy. My wife’s father was First Mate with the KPM, a Dutch shipping company in the Colonies, and retired as captain in 1953. In an around about way the KPM was a continuation of the VOC. I could have purchased existing drawings but none suited my ideas and at this stage I had not yet purchased Herman Ketting’s book “Prinse Willem.” So, I decided to try my hand in designing my own ship. Being quite familiar with aircraft design it would seem not to be that different or difficult. I looked at many drawings of William van de Velde de Elder and the Younger. I looked at many paintings and models and got a good idea how I wanted my model to look like to suit my ideas for the use of this fictitious ship. I was born and razed in the Dutch East Indies in the fair city of Surabaya, I wanted to play-act as the born and razed East Indier from Surabaya, the cantankerous old shipwright but trained in the southern Dutch ship building methods. My original thought was to build the ship in Surabaya, a city in the East of the island of Java using local timber and local craftsmen. Craftsmen from the different tribes in the Indonesian archipelago already build seagoing merchant vessels that sailed to India, China and Africa even before the Portuguese, the Dutch or the English arrived. However, I, as the shipwright, realized that the VOC would never buy a ship build in the East Indies with local wood and craftsmen. So I decided to build the ship in Middelburg, on the island of Walcheren in the Province of Zeeland. This Chamber of the VOC did usually build the largest ships for the Company. My ship is going to be 165 Amsterdam voet with a beam of 41 voet and a “hold” of 16 voet. The scale is 1:80. I thought to make this ship a hybrid cargo / warship with an extremely shallow draft and good cargo carrying capabilities. Therefore I needed to deviate from the suggested standards and make the bottom or “vlak” of the hull with only a 40 angle to the keel and a broader bilge. She also needed more tumblehome to allow for 16 eighteen pounders on the first or gun deck and 14 twelve pounders on the second or spar deck with numerous swivels on the railings. My reason for all this was to accompany the lesser armed ships for protection against the many pirates and of course the ever present Portuguese. Well, “De Heren XVII” (the Gentlemen Seventeen, board of directors) liked the idea and the plans and ordered the ship to be built. I also wanted enough space aft to accommodate passengers and have better accommodations for the officers with their own “sanitary” arrangements in de side gallery. I also wanted a decked over forecastle for workshops, crew accommodations and possible additional 6 pound guns on the forecastle deck. The name of the ship will be “Surabaya.” This word is a composite of two words, sura, meaning shark and buaya, crocodile. There is an old legend shrouded in ancient history about how this city got its name. A shark called Sura and a crocodile called Buaya, fought for owners right of the river Kali Mas and local waters. The river turned red of their spilled blood and to this day a bridge build over the river at that spot is called Jembatan Mera (Bridge Red) or Red Bridge. And yes, I walked across that bridge many times. There will be a carving of a shark and crocodile in mortal combat on the counter to illustrate the name. A note to this, in a later installment of my log rebuild you'll see a sketch I made. I thank two fellow MSW friends with helping me with setting up this rebuild of my log. I'm just not a computer savvy guy. Start with the build. The lines drawings of the fictitious VOC ship Close-up of the “groot spant,” the frame at the widest part of the beam, according to datagiven by Nicolaas Witsen. The black lines are drawn from Witsen’s data, the red lines are my deviations. There was a comment from two “Gentlemen Seventeen,” Amateur Jan and Amazon Dirk, that my tumblehome is too great. I did adjust that but in retrospect I should have kept it as I originally drew it up with an eye on the mass of the 18 pounder guns. However, now that the hull is pretty well completed it turned out okay. This shows the trial bulkheads cut from MDF to check the overall flow of the hull. There were a few adjustments to be made but in general I was satisfied with the design. This shows the MDF trial bulkheads installed and seen from above to check the lines of the ship. As you can see not much tumblehome. Port side view with temporary MDF bulkheads installed. Adjustment notes taken from this trial fit were translated to the actual plywood to be cut out. This shows all the bulkheads drawn onto ¼ inch plywood for the frames as adjusted from the MDF trial bulkheads. Again, in hindsight, I should have used a better grade of wood.
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