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Purpleheart Wood for the Schooner PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 June 2012

June 11, 2012

Supanaam

 I have written before about my long relationship with Purpleheart wood from Guyana. It goes back to 1971 when I first saw the wood and heard its unforgettable name in New Zealand aboard the 26 foot gaff rigged cutter Plumbelly.  The Purpleheart beam we now have on the deck was a long time coming. Since we got to Guyana we had a lot of opportunities to get wood. There is a lumber mill within sight of us just up the river, but we have a very low budget so I had to wait for the right opportunity. There are giant rafts of wood that float down the river next to us, but the wood is not milled. Our boat builder friend Nato is now working on his fifth boat in the fifty to sixty foot range. His wood is chainsaw milled for his frames and planks. Some of the planks that are floated up to the shore of his boat yard are two by eight inches and 50 feet long so that one plank stretches the length of the boat. He has been offering us this wood but I just couldn’t figure out how to work with such freshly cut rough wood. Nato’s brother Chevon is also a boat builder, but now he is cutting wood out of the jungle with a portable bandsaw type mill. I have noticed that most of the Greenheart and Moro wood that they use warps incredibly, but they know how to use the wood to their advantage. So I asked Chevon to find some Purpleheart wood for me and I gave him the sizes we needed.

 

I would like to go up into the jungle with them but we have chosen to stay on the malaria free coastal area and I don’t want to risk it by going up into the jungle. We have had so much work to do on the schooner that I have not been in any hurry to get the wood we need to put around the top of our bulwarks. Finally the wood arrived and we stacked and covered it in Nato’s boatyard. We carried one 31 foot by 2 by 6 inch plank out to the schooner with our Boston Whaler and hoisted it up on deck with our halyards. First we used a twice as light one inch thick plank to get some experience and now we are almost ready to try to fit out and bolt on a big plank. This is very exciting and a little intimidating to have such a piece of wood on the deck ready to become a part of the schooner.

 

We still have a lot of other jobs going on around the schooner such as rebuilding the Purpleheart wood floor in the cargo hold. We are trying to patch every leak and crack in the fiberglass hull inside and out. We are mostly done outside and the schooner has a very patchy look that blends in with the jungle. We don’t intend to finish paint the schooner until the very end of our rebuild job. Fiberglas repairs inside the schooner require removing woodwork and insulation and putting it all back together again. We have been rebuilding the interior carpentry and sanding and varnishing it outside as we go. We have mostly used tropical hardwoods on the interior and they are varnishing up really beautifully. Most of the wood has sheen so when one looks into the wood closely it appears to have shiny layers whose dimensions can be looked into.

 

 It is all a lot of hard work but it is satisfying and we must Save the Mighty Schooner. At this point I must add that our biggest difficulty is getting the modest amount of money we need t do the job. Anybody who thinks it was a worthy endeavor to sail on the high seas longer than any man or woman or boat in history, please help us out so we can save the boat that did it and return to civilization. We receive donations through the Pay Pal on our website and we have a tax deductible partner on the front page of our website. We welcome personal letters from anyone interested in talking to us about how we can go forward.

Best wishes to all.

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