Monday, 6 October 2014


Well, with the aid of the Oxford English Dictionary,  a Glossary of Nautical Terms and, would you believe it, a medical dictionary, I have converted the 1880 document into landlubberese. I had hoped that there would be naval architects or something similar amongst my readers, but if there are, they kept a low profile! Not so one of my more nostalgic readers, who ignored the maritime history and went down the Kenneth Williams side-track, reminding me that the radio program was called ‘Round the Horn’ and featured such unlikely characters as J. Peasemould Gruntfuttock and Daphne Whitethigh. However he missed the important one - Rambling Sid Rumpo – who actually used the ‘clench’ in one of his ditties …
“When I was a clencher’s bogle man in famous Lincoln town,
I often clenched my bogling fork for less than half a crown.”
But thanks anyway Colin.

Back to business. Referring to the paragraph I quoted last time, ‘Scantlings’ I discovered did not refer to  particular pieces of a ship - in a boat plan it was the list of all the necessary construction materials, dimensions, hardware and fittings complete with specifications, quantities and sizes. No wonder this document is 19 pages long!  ‘Clenched’ means nailed and a ‘Scarf’ is an overlapping joint. I will not explain the whole document, but the medical dictionary solved ‘Intercostal’.   ‘Inter’ of course means ‘in between’ and ‘costal’ refers to ‘ribs’, which of course makes sense in a ship with a framework.  Perhaps the bashful nautical gurus could just assure me that I have got the right labels on the photo…..

Meanwhile I have set Simon the task of finding where the foremast was located. I suspect he is looking for a patch over the hole (which would be about 14 inches in diameter) put there during the 1943 re-modelling.

My search for a similar vessel has turned up one possible candidate. The Puffin was built in 1886/7 for the Commissioners of Irish Lights, but not by the same shipyard as Cormorant.  I would be surprised if CIL, having gone to the trouble of producing a comprehensive specification in 1880, did not use it for Puffin in 1886/7. Comparing the details of Puffin in the Board of Trade wreck report (Puffin sank in a hurricane in October 1896 off Daunt’s Rock) with the 1880 specification, there are numerous exact matches and a few very close matches, especially in the construction of the three masts. I would therefore classify them as sister ships.

Unfortunately I can find only one poor picture of Puffin, but that is better than no pictures at all for Cormorant. At least I now know what I am looking for! Can anyone out there help?