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miércoles 22 noviembre 2017



Bertan > Our boats > From tree to ship
Bertan 23

From tree to ship


Any sailing ship comprised a vast number of structural parts in a great range of different shapes and sizes. which first had to be found in the trees; some branch, trunk or root had to be located with the same natural shape. From the long straight keel that formed the backbone of the ship to the twisted knees needed to join the decks to the hull, the ship's carpenters had to find wood whose grain faithfully followed the outline on the template. This helped ensure that the ships would stand up to the strong winds and raging sea. With naturally shaped trees in short supply (a result of mass consumption by Basque shipyards), trees began to be especially cultivated for the purpose, by training the young flexible branches of the oaks into the shapes of specific parts.

The wood used in shipbuilding, mainly oak, was felled in the
waning phase of the moon between October and January, when
the trunk had the least sap, giving timbers that were considerably
more resistant to rot.
The wood used in shipbuilding, mainly oak, was felled in the waning phase of the moon between October and January, when the trunk had the least sap, giving timbers that were considerably more resistant to rot. © José Lopez
The pruned oaks were trained into the required shapes. The
base of the branch on the left will provide a sturdy bracket which
can be used to join the sternpost to the keel. The straight upper part
could be used for one of the beams holding up the decks.
The pruned oaks were trained into the required shapes. The base of the branch on the left will provide a sturdy bracket which can be used to join the sternpost to the keel. The straight upper part could be used for one of the beams holding up the decks. © José Lopez

Many of the parts to be used in the ships were smoothed out
with axes in the forest to make them easier to transport to the shipyards.
Many of the parts to be used in the ships were smoothed out with axes in the forest to make them easier to transport to the shipyards. © José Lopez
The moment when the archaeologists from Parks Canada
recover the heel of the sternpost during the underwater excavation
of the whaler San Juan in Red Bay, Labrador.
The moment when the archaeologists from Parks Canada recover the heel of the sternpost during the underwater excavation of the whaler San Juan in Red Bay, Labrador. © José Lopez

These forks would become the frame timbers that went on
either end of the keel, to form the bow and stern entrances. The
pieces were obtained from the natural fork between the branches
and the trunk
These forks would become the frame timbers that went on either end of the keel, to form the bow and stern entrances. The pieces were obtained from the natural fork between the branches and the trunk. © José Lopez
The futtocks form part of the ribs of the ship. In the naos, the
ribs were formed of frame timbers, futtocks, riders and top timbers.
The futtocks form part of the ribs of the ship. In the naos, the ribs were formed of frame timbers, futtocks, riders and top timbers. © José Lopez

The San Juan. Finally, the curved branch of the oak takes its
place in the structure of the ship. This piece had to be carefully
selected to support great stresses, since it would stand very close to
the rudder and because it joined several important parts of the structure.
The San Juan. Finally, the curved branch of the oak takes its place in the structure of the ship. This piece had to be carefully selected to support great stresses, since it would stand very close to the rudder and because it joined several important parts of the structure. © José Lopez

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