Sloop Scoop 5: Fresh Frames and New Wood

The sloop crew and shipwrights alike are working hard out in the cold and making great progress. The last few weeks have brought continued demolition, freshly made frames, and the first installation of new wood.

While there are unique challenges having a shop 50 miles away from the boat, the crew is making it work and are happy to be spending time in Clearwater’s winter home. The project couldn’t be done without the shop! New planks and frames are constructed in Kingston, then make the trip north where they are installed in Albany.

A vital tool in this endeavor is Jim Kricker’s ship saw. A ship saw is like a bandsaw (a saw with an endless steel belt running over pulleys), but with an important feature: the top arbor can tilt and can be tilted while the timber is being sawn, making it possible to cut a changing bevel along the length of a frame. This allows frames to be made to fit the challenging shape of a hull.

This ship saw has a unique history. It came from the Hildebrandt Shipyard in Connely on the Rondout Creek. Years ago, the yard was building minesweepers for WWII and undoubtedly using this ship saw. At that time minesweepers were often small wooden-hulled vessels that were used to clear tens of thousands of mines both during and after the war. Years later when the yard was being used as a marina, Jim’s saw (and its much larger companion!) were sitting outside, likely going to be scrapped. Despite years of neglect, the saw was in good condition. Jim and his team rebuilt the wheels, fit new guides, built a guard, and installed a motor. This fine ship saw has been integral to Clearwater rebuilds for may years!

This edition our shipwright spotlight is on Chelsea Fisher, who has been with Clearwater for over 13 years! Starting out as an apprentice, she returned as deckhand, engineer, winter crew, and shipwright. While not working for Clearwater, Chelsea has worked as a boatbuilding, woodworking, and sailing instructor at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid, Maine, a deckhand on the Hardy Boat in Muscongus Bay, a wood cutter and tree feller on the Pemaquid Peninsula, a deckhand-engineer on the Madaket in Humboldt Bay and as a road-builder in a canyon in the Sonoran Desert. Now a licensed captain, Chelsea has returned to Clearwater this winter to work on the sloop that has been a home to her for many years. This winter, Chelsea is excited to be back working with people she cares about and to see how far everyone has come over the years in their knowledge and skill sets. She is glad to be taking care of this old sloop that has touched so many lives. And we are sure happy to have her!