The Building of Polaris

2015 - Getting Started

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Skuldelev 6 at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark

Constructed from oak and pine, the wreck known as Skuldelev 6 started life in western Norway around 1030 as an 11meter (38’) fishing vessel. About 75% of the timbers were recovered from the Roskilde fjord seabed in 1962 and painstakingly restored to the boat's original shape. The remains are exhibited next to four other vessels recovered from the same excavation.  All five boats were deliberately scuttled between 1060 and 1080 as part of a defensive barrier system blocking navigation to enemy ships entering the fjord. All five are different and offer an amazing window into 1000 year old ships and the lives of the people who built and sailed them. 

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Following the discovery of the wreck, a thirty year long recovery and reconstruction process began with laborious documentation of every piece of timber found; starting with 1:1 detailed drawings of each piece and including, eventually a 1/10th scale cardboard model. Assisted by experts in ship restoration and historians the final lines of the vessel as it would have appeared 1000 years ago were drawn and the reconstruction known as Kraka Fyr was launched in 1998. Our vessel is a close relation to Kraka Fyr and borrows from those same lines

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These computer generated lines drawings depict some of modifications we made to the original shape of the Kraka Fyr reconstruction. Our goal for these modifications was to improve the hull's performance and increase the safe carrying capacity of the boat. 

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Stacked among this pile of hopeful logs of Oregon oak is the lucky log from which the keel of Polaris will be chosen. 

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The logs for keel and stems/stern arrived by truck from the saw-mill in Oregon. One by one and carefully each was carried to a temporary position in the boat yard. The keel log is shown here in front of the boat house which will become its home for the duration of building. Jay is placing wooden blocks to support each end while the log is being positioned. 

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Jay guides the stem log into position. Out of this single piece, master carver Rocky will shape the classic Viking stem and stern. Its essential that the quality of these timbers is the highest possible. Just in case— Jay had a spare log delivered. 

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Polaris’s keel is being cleaved from a 32’ straight log.

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Behold, a stem log and a stern log Having removed the bark and with the help of some oak wedges, the log is finally split in two and Lead Shipwright Jay gets to see for the first time the interior quality of the wood and decide if it's good enough — and how to best use it.

I really wish this looked good!