Our newest vessel, Heron, is currently under construction in our New England shipyard. Her keel was laid in June 2009, and as of winter 2013/14 her hull is just about finished. We’re currently raising funds to buy the cordage and canvas to rig her up and launch in time for the 2014 sailing season. Help support maritime education and bring a piece of history to life!

 Follow her progress with our news updates!

Heron is being built along the lines of the small 18th century coastal trading vessels seen in the works of Howard Chapelle, former small boats curator at the Smithsonian. She is decked over to provide sheltered sleeping room and cargo space. We plan to rig her as a brig, but the final rig configuration will depend on initial testing and further experience. (As our captain & chief builder points out, “The numbers look good on paper, but we sail on water.”) She has a full-length shoal keel, with a dead-plum stem and bluff bow, buxom wineglass transom, & small false gallery at the stern. Heron‘s bulwarks will be low, with the rail pierced for belaying pins and small carriage guns amidships. Despite her size, Heron is still road-legal on her trailer, thus giving her the unique position of being one of the very few trailerable small tall ships.

A lot of her technical specifications on this page are deliberately being left vague, since we know that what is calculated will change if her final stability tests and sea trials require.

Heron under construction, summer 2013.

Heron under construction, summer 2013. Items in foreground are a planer and the wood-fired steamer box for bending her ribs and planking.

Length: 33′ at the waterline; 35′ on deck.

Sparred length: Approximately 50 feet.

Beam: 8 feet

Depth of hold: Approximately 4′ 8″ (from keel to decking)

Theoretical draft: 3′ 6″ – this is what we’re calculating; obviously, we won’t know for certain until she’s in the water.

Hull construction: White oak single-sawn frames, lap-jointed, with hemlock planking and decking of Douglas fir. Fastenings: predominantly black locust trunnels, wrought-iron nails, and galvanized bolts. All joints and fasteners are tarred to intercept corrosion and rot.

Ballast: Outside – Iron keel shoe, approximately 600 lbs. Lead keel-blocks, approximately 600 lbs. (Actual numbers will be adjusted once we see how she handles.)

View belowdecks of Heron under construction before diagonal bracing, additional ribs, and interior bulkheads were added.

View belowdecks of Heron under construction before diagonal bracing, additional ribs, and interior bulkheads were added.

Mast heights:
All these numbers are purely theoretical and speculative until we finalize her ballast and exterior keel shoe. We’re calculating these based on the numbers seen in the historical vessel designs and will revise once we get closer to her final ballast and balance.

Main: Estimated 28′ proud of deck
Mizzen: Estimated 25′ ditto

Main boom: Estimated 16′
Mizzen boom:  Estimated 9 ‘
Main gaff: Estimated 12′
Mizzen gaff: Estimated 7′

Top-masts will depend on her stability testing.

Armament: Will vary, lots. Dependent on suppliers/location/funds. Ideally, she will have several carriage guns and a few small swivels. We are hoping to find that there will be stability and room for one of the artillery units to set up on deck now and then.

Propulsion: Sail, oar, auxiliary engine. Heron will be set up to show eight sweeps (each about 12′ long) and be set up for an optional steering oar. She will also have some sort of emergency auxiliary power, but we’re still debating the exact type. We’re trying to minimize her through-hull fittings and maximize her visual accuracy as a historic-style vessel.

Crew: We estimate Heron will require a crew of 2-3, and probably carry a crew of up to 5-6 at reenactments and tacticals. Anything else is just guesswork right now.

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