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Q + A: Building The Bounty launch

Bounty launch reproduction project at The National Maritime Museum Cornwall photo by Paul Abbitt

A labour of love by our boat building team


Captain Bligh: Myth, Man and Mutiny brings to life one of the greatest small boat survival stories in history featuring relics from the voyage and a specially built reproduction of the Bounty launch, giving a very real sense of the situation of the 18 men who sailed it over 3600 nautical miles across the Pacific. Here the boat building team tell us about the journey to make an authentic reconstruction as possible.

June 2016: Research begins…

Andy Wyke: Boat Collection Manager, National Maritime Museum Cornwall

‘The research began in June 2016. We paid a visit to HMS Victory in Portsmouth where there are similar boats and 20th century replicas. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich let us have a copy of the original plan, however there was a huge amount of detail that was not in the plan and so it was down to us to fill in the gaps. We studied a transcript of Bligh’s log of the journey and a number of other publications held in our own Bartlett Library and Maritime Research Centre in Falmouth.’

Andy Nancarrow: Boat builder

‘The Maritime Research Centre and Bartlett Library at the museum are an incredible resource. Some of the publications we consulted Steel’s Elements of Mastmaking, Sailmaking and Rigging from 1792 and The Elements and Practice of Naval Archiecture 1805. Also looking at the artwork of the the time, illustrations and paintings, you can see what the artists of the time picked up on and you can see trends emerge. It’s like piecing together a jigsaw.”

Mike Selwood: Boat workshop Manager

‘What helps is having a network, and strong community of supportive connections, so we’re able to pick up the phone and ask people if they’ve come across this or that when working on similar projects.’

Andy Nancarrow:

‘I learned a wealth about Bligh and the story of that journey. I have so much respect for what they achieved in building the Bounty launch, with the only knowledge and technology they had. It hasn’t got a single screw in it, because this was pre-industrial revolution, when there was no mass production, everything was hand made. We’ve tried to be as faithful as we could within the constraints.’

Mike Selwood:

‘Our ambition is to develop a respected centre for restoration, conservation and repair of historical vessels. And we’re slowly building up that resource. Our core responsibility is the maintenance and care of the nations small boat collection, but alongside that we’re developing a reputation for keeping alive traditional boatbuilding skills.’

Andy Wyke:

‘When it all started to come together it was very rewarding. We couldn’t have managed it without the amazing team of volunteers and Andy Nancarrow who we contracted to work on the project.’

Andy Nancarrow:

‘This project is important because it brings history alive. The research process gives better understanding into the past and develops a deeper understanding of the subject. During the actual build, which takes place in the museum’s boat building workshop, we become a living exhibit. Visitors like to come back and see the weekly progress, and they are able to come into the workshop and chat with the team as we work, asking us questions.’

‘Schools and younger children, also get involved. They ask some great questions, and it really brings the subject to life for them.’

Mike Selwood:

‘It’s been great to develop a team of skillful volunteers, and to see the growing association between us and Falmouth Marine School and to have been able to add an additional dimension to their studies.’

‘On Facebook we publish regular updates on the project and have connected with a wide range of special interest groups from all over the world, it’s inspiring to achieve that global reach.’

Drew Passmore, Falmouth Marine School Volunteer:

‘It’s been an amazing opportunity to learn both traditional and still relevant boatbuilding skills. And to be part of such a great team.’

Ollie Crediton, Trainee Boat Curator,  National Maritime Museum Cornwall

‘It’s been great to understand the boat construction process and research the story of Bligh in more depth.’

Reuben Thompson, Advanced Apprentice in Boat Conservation, National Maritime Museum Cornwall

‘This has ‘been such a great opportunity to develop my boat building and woodworking skills.’

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Like this? Want to know more?

This is an edited version of an article which features in the 1st edition of our annual journal Fathom available to buy in the museum shop or online.

National Maritime Museum
Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
Falmouth
Cornwall
TR11 3QY

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388

Email: enquiries@nmmc.co.uk

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