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I'm building the Artesania Scottish Maid kit and am puzzled by this deckhouse which they refer to as a skylight.

I don't see how it can be a skylight even if the sides were shuttered - it doesn't look like anything else I've seen that is called a skylight. This gives me 2 questions -

if it's not a skylight what is it? it's probably only about 3ft tall and has no obvious point of access.

Wouldn't a ship of this type need a skylight since all the accommodation is below deck.?



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Thanks davyboy, I did consider that option, but thought that having glazing at deck level would be impractical. Most of the skylights I've seen have had glazing on sloping surfaces on top of a deckhouse. Is it common to have glazing on the side?

btw I treat some of Artesenia's plans with some scepticism, hence questions such as this one.

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Hi again gthursby,


It was I think standard practice to have metal bars fitted for glass protection both on skylights and low side windows. There are many old photos on the net which show these on working sail vessels. There are some pics of how to fit bars to skylights in Mike Motts' and Nenads' build logs here in the scratch build section,the Bristol Pilot Cutter and Cutty Sark respectively. Might be of some help  :) Also, many ships had thick round glass lights let into the deck to let some light in below.


As you live in Scotland it may be worthwhile to contact the Aberdeen Maritime Museum they may be able to give you some info.The Scottish Maid was built in Aberdeen by Archibald Hall and Russell which closed down 20 odd years ago. They may have plans or a model,I know that they have the builders model of The Thermopylae which was built by the same firm,I've seen it several times as I lived in Aberdeen for 28 years. I'm a long time expat Jock.


Hope this is of some help to you,


Dave :dancetl6:  


ps, Just a thought but I have it in my mind that they may have got most of Hall Russels' plans after the firm closed down.

Edited by davyboy
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Thanks, Davyboy.

I read up on Scottish Maid in MacGregor's "Fast Sailing Ships" book and it appears that most of Hall's plans were destroyed by fire in WWII. Consequently only half models exist and everything else, including the deckhouses, is reconstructed from contemporary paintings etc of her and other similar Hall vessels. 

Reading the book it seems that a Hall characteristic was to fit the bowsprit with its heel tenoned into the pawl post; however this is not how it appears in Artesinia's plans so that is another modification I will have to make. Fortunately I haven't fitted it yet. I've already built the stern in a different way to them and used walnut planking instead of the supplied mahogany in a hopefully more realistic planking layout, so at the present rate there won't be much of the original kit left!

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is a completely legitimate and necessary fixture for a vessel of this size. If you are below decks it is crampt and dark and airless. The box formed by the skylight set into the space above your head allows for headroom under it, a sparse commodity. It also allows light and air into the otherwise completely dark compartment- you can't burn oil lamps 24/7 at sea, it is dangerous and wasteful.

The top of the skylight on a small ship like this is too valuable a piece of real estate to give over entirely to glazed panels that can not be trod upon, the sailors need to stand on it in order to furl the Main, so the glazing is at the sides- which incidentally could be swung open to allow ventilation. Larger ships have more glazing  and their deck furniture incorporates seating and completely galzed skylights with a triangular pitch.




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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I assume that the kit was designed after David McGregor's plans, so it may be worthwhile to get hold of a set.


I vaguely remember that there was a model of SCOTTISH MAID in the museum in Aberdeen, but I think it is probably a modern one. Didn't take pictures in the dimly lit museum during my pre-digital age visit there. 



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



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