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Old 01-29-2019, 03:17 AM
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abhovi abhovi is offline
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Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot

When I started ship modeling, back in the 70s, there was hardly any material available for the building of 17th century Dutch vessels. A lot has changed since those days. Information on pinasses, VOC retourships, fluyts, men-of-war, yachts and inshore vessels has been developed and has become accessible to anyone planning to build a model.
But there is a limit. Using original sources from archives and literature brings us back as far as the first quarter of the 17th century. Everything behind that line is guesswork, there are no written sources, it is literally pre-history.
Still, it is most tempting to see what was sailing in our waters then. And not without importance, because the foundation of the Dutch nation took place in those days.
Looking at contemporary pictures of around 1600 seldom gives us the information we need. Painting realistic scenes was not developed as much as it was in later days in the 17th century. Most depictions are rather primitive and differ from each other. On top of that, ship types were used that were obsolete when authors began to report about the techniques used to build ships. We learn about 'cromsters' (ships with curved stemposts), rowing galleys and vlieboots (pr: flee boats) when we read about the early days of our War of Independance against the Spanish, which lasted 80 years from 1568 to 1648.
The first admiralty (later on there would be five of them) was founded in Veere, a small, but important town in Zealand on the isle of Walcheren. It was there that the first men-of-war available to the (Spanish) government were stationed. They were vlieboats, vessels about 80 feet long, three masts and even carrying some guns. I had access to some original specification contracts dated 1594, the legal description of what the ship should look like, the agreement between the commissioner and the shipbuilder. But that alone is not enough to build a model. It was only last year that I spotted a small painting owned by a friend and art-collector, painted by Cornelis Claeszn. van Wieringen (1577-1633) picturing a vlieboot with so many details that a model might be possible.

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-ccvwieringen_buis-kopie-2.jpg

Over the last few years I showed many types of Dutch vessels here, which I built purely for the fun of building, much in contradiction to my builds when I was a professional conservator in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Modelbuilding has always been a method of research for me. The aim was never a model, but the process of building, to discover the way the construction was executed. Now it seems I returned to that sort of modeling. I will build a ship, of which it is mostly unclear how it was constructed and how the build will develop. Maybe you like to join me on my insure path.

First I wanted to find the lines of the ship. The building contract gave length, width and depth as well as the shape of stem and stern and of the main frame. Keeping in mind the shape of the Mediaeval cogs my good partner Rene Hendrickx and I manipulated the hull that was proposed by the terrific shipbuilding program Delftship, until we were both satisfied with the result. That ended in a fine lines plan.

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-3d-kopie.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-opzij-kopie.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-achter-kopie.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-voor-kopie.jpg

Making the hull was a straight forward job, as I described many times. As you can see the basics of the hull are there. Now we will have to see how it will develop...

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-img_0301.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-schermafbeelding-2019-01-29-om-10.07.17.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-img_0302-kopie.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-schermafbeelding-2019-01-29-om-10.07.48.png Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-schermafbeelding-2019-01-29-om-10.09.00.png

Don't get distracted by the ship in the background. That's another try-out I will report about some other time.

Last edited by abhovi; 01-29-2019 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:38 AM
RdK RdK is offline
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Hello there Ab!

This is very interesting to follow. Such deep insights into the history of ship building from simple boats to the great ships of the line - and so many dark holes where knowledge is missing! I am very interested in these topics and will follow this report with great interest and joy. Can you describe a bit what this type of vessel was mainly used for? Was it a merchant? A fishing boat? A small military vessel? A transport? In which waters was it used? This all will probably have an impact on how it was build and how it was shaped?

The ship in the background reminds me of the Papegoian somehow...sorry I've got distracted...

Looking forward to the next posting!

-Radek
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:44 AM
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Kevin WS Kevin WS is offline
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Ab - excellent!

I enjoy your builds a great deal, so look forward to this one.
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:57 AM
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JohnMGD JohnMGD is offline
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Very nice work Ab, when you building these models, it looks so easy to build and the outcome is beautiful. You are very fast too in building these models !!
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Old 01-29-2019, 10:11 AM
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Seascape Seascape is offline
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Will be closely following this build thread, Ab!

Love the way you always add the background history to the shipbuilding and the development of the model.

Fred
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Old 01-29-2019, 11:16 AM
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JohnMGD JohnMGD is offline
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Ab, I keep all your threads in a special folder, I too like the history behind the ships, something which is not so well known, also for me as a Dutchman. You are the right person for this as a retired conservator of the Rijksmuseum !!
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Old 01-29-2019, 12:10 PM
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Michael Mash Michael Mash is offline
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Hello Ab,

When I left my desk a while ago to enjoy lunch away from my computer, I printed the leading paragraphs of this thread to read. I also took with me a copy of the magazine: National Geographic.

It was a delight to read about your maritime archeology dating back to the 1970s, and your current attempt to extract long forgotten ships from the fog of the early 17th century (pre- history in your words). Your writing brings back to life many of the elements that changed the history of the Spanish Netherlands. So I shall certainly join you on your “unsure path”, and take in some of the inspiration and discovery your work has to offer.

After that . . . . . . . . I read the copy of National Geographic that I had taken with me.

Yours was better.

Mike

Last edited by Michael Mash; 01-29-2019 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 02-02-2019, 12:56 PM
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Very interesting find that painting with apparent great attention to detail. Nice work will follow with interest Ab.
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Old 02-23-2019, 02:00 AM
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abhovi abhovi is offline
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Thank you gentlemen for all your kind works. They keep an old man going. :-)

It has been a while since my previous posting and there is a reason for that. As they say: First things first, and in a life sometimes very urgent matters pop up. Like having a grandson who suddenly is in a terrible need for a new guitar. So my first priority in the past few weeks was building a brand new Telecaster, like I did many times as a side-hobby before my museum career started. It is finished now and my commissioner, who worked together with me on the project is happy with it.

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-schermafbeelding-2019-02-23-om-08.05.16.jpg

Back to the vlieboot. Not too many developments, but maybe a good opportunity to ventilate some thoughts about the ship type.
The situation in Holland was incomparable to how it is today, both politically and geographically. This map shows the estuary of the Schelde, the river running from the south and ending between the islands of the province of Zealand. Today most of these islands are interconnected, but in the late 16th century they were all islands. In the right corner below you can spot Antwerp, the most important harbor of the Spanish Netherlands.

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-schermafbeelding-2019-02-02-om-14.12.31.png

Once the Dutch declared themselves independent from their king Philips II in a law in 1579 Veere as the station for the early navy played a crucial part. Until then the southern part of the Low Countries had always been the most prosperous part , but now tables turned. Antwerp was taken by the Spanish in 1585. The Veere war ships choose the side of the rebels and the passage to Antwerp was closed. The result was that the centre of economy moved to the cities in the Northern part, mostly in Holland. Amsterdam took the role from Antwerp as the main harbor.
This all happened under the influence of these small unsightly, but probably very defensible vessels with very few guns. Several heavy battles were fought in the Zealand waters between the Spanish and the Dutch. It has to be mentioned that these were not artillery fights like in later days. The guns did cause some havoc to the enemy while approaching each other, but the real fight was on deck, where the opponents killed each other bare-handedly with swords and pikes.
Guns were not of the sort we know with gun carriages, but they were bedded in a heavy log of wood and loaded from behind. This explains the low deck we see on the vlieboot, covered with a grating all over. Anyone trying to get on board against the will of the captain and his crew could face a violent attack from below his feet. This was the kind of guns in use:

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-schermafbeelding-2019-02-02-om-14.27.25.jpg

I don't tell all this because I am extremely talkative, but because this is of importance for understanding the vessel and making a good reconstruction. Because of the low guns, a low deck was possible and the grating was an important part of the defense system of the ship. Here some progress in the outside of the ship.

Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-img_0320.jpg Going deeper down in history: a Vlieboot-img_0321.jpg

Enough for today, back to work.
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Old 02-23-2019, 11:49 AM
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Papierschnitzel Papierschnitzel is offline
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A man of many talents! Lovely guitar build and as usual I enjoy watching you build one ship after the other :-)
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