Current status of Virginia

January 2021

MFS wharf supports in winter mode

A new year begins and the projects continue.  In the Kennebec the dolphins are now in place for the wharf. This turned out to be harder than expected. Ledge was found when driving the piles for the south dolphin so it needed to be moved. Then coming in closer to set the support for the bridge they found only mud.  What we have is now similar to the winter configuration for the wharf, but we expect to leave the bridge in place.

This work was done with the help of the tug Kennebec which is the last of the logging tugs built in Greenville Maine, and was a museum piece itself until rescued back to working on the water.

In the boat yard, Fred ignores the cold to chisel out the holes in the top for the futtocks shrouds. The rest of the rigging crew has been taking a break.

Inside the boatshed work continues on caulking the deck.  This is slow as the number of volunteers has been low, and we are keeping the groups working together as small as possible due to Covid-19. 

Work on the bulwarks continues and we got some more lumber from storm damaged Bowdoin pines.  Some of this will be used for floors in the bilge. The last of the lead keel pieces is in place, but we still need to put in some more bolts.

We are in the process of contracting for the engine and related plumbing and tanks, and for the electricals.  17th century ships did not have these things, but we need them to carry passengers.

Barge with dolphins in place
Historic tug Kennebec helps set the dolphins
Lead keel in place
Fred carving futtock top
Calking the deck

December 2020

Even in winter, work continues in the boatyard

Winter has arrived in the boatyard, but work continues outside just as the shipwrights in 1607 continued on thru the winter. In the Kennebec, piles are being driven to support the wharf.

Inside the boatshed, the process of making the deck waterproof continues.  This calking consists of forcing oakum into the gaps in the deck planking and then sealing it with tar.

The Jane Stevens Visitor Center is closed this winter due to COVID-19 concerns but rigging can be seen between vendors at the Bath Farmers Market on Saturday morning.  Only 17 customers are allowed in the freight shed at a time. A number of the vendors are set up outside, and some are only doing pickup of pre-orders.

Both the freight shed and boathouse can be visited from the comfort of your own computer using our virtual tour.

The plans for the launch of Virginia are still uncertain as COVID is still raging despite our hope for the future.  As we deal with the pandemic of 2020, we should remember that in the years 1607-1610 there was a major pandemic among the native population of Maine.

Pile driving for MFS wharf
Bath Farmers Market with rigging
The slow work of calking the deck continues

November 2020

Maine's First Ship landing on the Kennebec River next to the Bath Freight Shed

Winter is fast approaching and with it a large increase in COVID-19 rates in Maine.  Work on Virginia continues, but with existing teams of volunteers.  We continue to monitor the Maine guidelines to ensure the safety of our volunteers.  The shallop Jane Stevens is back in her tent in the boatyard.

Work on the wharf is starting in the boatyard with a team installing the the  landing.  This is actually a septic tank filled with stones, with a wooden deck.  The permanent parts of the wharf should be in place this year.

Inside the boathouse, one team is working on the bulwarks with the transom, prow, and port quarter in place.  Another team is working to calk the deck and the smell of tar fills the boathouse.  A third team is working in the engine compartment and will be installing tanks.  Yet another team is installing the lead keel, with 5 or the 6 pieces in place.

In the boatyard, the larger spars are mostly done, but Fred still has some smaller pieces to keep him busy this winter.

In the freight shed, work on the rigging continues, but they will soon need to share space with the Bath Farmers Market. 

wharf base
Installing base of wharf
With bulwarks in place, the full profile of Virginia is visible
All but one of the sections of the lead keel attached
Rigging stored in plain sight getting ready for the farmers market
The smell of tar fills the boathouse
Starting the job of calking the deck

October 2020

Virginia's rudder in the boaryard

Outside in the boatyard, Virginia’s rudder is taking shape, and the initial shaping of the bowsprit is complete.  The Kennebec looks closer as a piece of the fence is down to start work on the wharf.

Inside the boatshed, work continues on the bulwarks, with the prow and transom done, and a lot of planks done on the port quarter.

In the freight shed, rigging work continues.  The tops’l is bent, and work continues on other spars, and the various lines needed.  We have an extra month in the  freight shed as the Bath Famers Market will stay outside thru November.

An interactive 3D virtual tour was made on October 12, so you can see the various pieces of the ship on that day, including the rigging in the freight shed, the deck and below deck in the boatshed, and some spars in the boatyard.  There are also drone shots above the freight shed with the trees in their full fall glory.  The shallop Jane Stevens is now out of the water, but you can see it floating in the current from directly above in the drone view from above the Kennebec.

Work has started on an online exhibit The Art of the Virginia as we continue to adjust to the virtual Covid-19 world.

Installing the bulwarks
The shallop Jane Stevens from above
Tanbark Virginia
Gil Ross - Virginia tanbark sails
First bulwark plank
Deck is done
The engine compartment