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Pequod's bulwarks: "unpanelled"

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In MOBY DICK  Herman Melville describes the Pequods bulwarks as follows:


"All round, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm whale inserted there for pins, to fasten her old hempen thews and tendons to."


In Chapter 16 entitled  "The Ship", he describes the Pequod as more than half a century old.  Writing in 1850 about events 9 years previous--"Some years ago---never mind how long precisely--..." (Melville shipped out on a whaler in 1841),  this places the ship's construction slightly before or at 1790.  A post colonial ship.  


The adjective  "unpanelled" is causing me some confusion.  Does unpanelled mean an open rail, or a bulwark that is planked on the outside to the rail with no planking or ceiling on the inboard surfaces?  Perhaps I am not clear on the term open bulwarks.  What is an open bulwark?


Phil Roach

NRG Director

President, Southwest Florida Ship Modeler's Guild  

Edited by roach101761
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Hi Phil


My take on it is that there is no internal planking to the inside of the bulwarks.I googled 'open bulwarks' and a similar term is used to describe Titanic's promenade deck.Here the shell plating extends up to the handrail with exposed tee bars to the inside face.The question I am asking myself is that surely if they were completely open they would be referred to as something else.


Kind Regards



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I'm reading Moby-Dick again right now. Best novel ever? maybe. I jotted some notes while reading it,


on page 321 of my addition in the chapter The Grand Armada the line ..."With stun-sail piled on stun-sail we sailed along...." so Pequod has Stunsails.


A couple times in the novel they mention the Sperm Whale jaw used as a tiller.


When Melville introduces the carpenter (chapter 107) he tells us the carpenters bench lives "Athwartships against the rear of the tryworks". In the same chapter its noted that Stubb's whaleboat oars have red stars painted on the blades.


I am tempted to build a pequod, I am every time I read the novel, but I am also tempted to build the barque Sunbeam, which Clifford Ashley painted so many times. Ashley wrote The Yankee Whaler and sailed on a whaling voyage. He also wrote The Ashley Book of Knots, which he is best known for. But in his paintings he shows a lot of detail of the Sunbeam, giving us more to go on for a model than Melville did.

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...And don't forget the gold doubloon nailed into the after side of the Main Mast! Chains for the lightning rod in the chains of the ship, which Ahab ignores. Tiny details but Ahab had two holes bored in the deck in order to hold his ivory leg.  Queequeg's coffin turned into the life Buoy. The French engraver Baugean always showed a life ring dangling aft of the tafrail hanging under the boom. Hanging a tiny coffin off the model would be very cool.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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