Home' Afloat : AFLOAT May 2015 Contents 38 AFLOAT.com.au May 2015
T: 03 9421 4235
ONLY AN AIRHEAD MARINE TOILET
TICKS ALL THE BOXES
NO through hulls or holding tank
NO smelly pipes to block
Fully sealed for shower combo
Simple to install
Solar power option
5 year warranty
Dimensions with crank handle:
470(w) x 470(d) x 485(h)mm
Dimensions with rachet fitting:
370(w) x 470(d) x 485(h)mm
by Peter Morton
Through recent pages of Afloat many readers have become
better acquainted with the history of the Australian National
Maritime Museum’s historic double-ended ketch Kathleen Gillet.
Leaving aside some of the rather heated controversies concerning
its modifications, we should spare a thought for the designer and
builder, Colin Archer and one of his other notable creations, the
Polar Ship Fram.
Colin Archer’s parents were Scottish and migrated to Norway
in 1825. Archer had links with Australia as he spent some of his
early years sailing and working in Queensland prior to moving
back to Norway and commencing his notable career as a naval
Fram came into existence due to the bold ideas of Fridtjof
Nansen, an explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel
Peace Prize laureate. Nansen conceived the idea of building a
ship “so small and so strong as possible ... that it was improbable
that it could be destroyed by the ice”.
He hoped to then have a ship that could drift with the east-
west current (and prove its existence) and hopefully drift over
or very near to the North Pole.
Fortunately the Norwegian Government were in favour of
his grand plan and granted NOK280,000 for the venture. With
additional contributions from many enthusiastic private investors,
work commenced under the guidance of Colin Archer.
The ship was originally intended to be small and light yet
strong enough to survive the pack ice which had crushed many
other ships. Notwithstanding these intentions, the ship proved
to be a fair bit larger than envisaged. Fram displaced some 800
tons, was 39m stem to stern and had a beam of 11m, draft was 5m.
The somewhat “boxy” design made the ship incredibly strong
but I’m sure that the consequential rolling would have made it
most uncomfortable. No doubt survival was a more pressing
need than comfort.
It is hard to imagine a more robust vessel. The official
description of the ship states:
“Materials were iron
and oak in the main, with
pitch pine, Norwegian
pine and greenheart. The
separate pieces were
either laid double or were
strengthened in other ways,
ribs were of naturally-
formed oak bolted two
together for double strength
and laid only 5cm apart. The space between was filled with a
mixture of pitch, tar and sawdust.
“ The keelson was of pitch pine, which has a naturally high
resin content which protects from decay. This was laid double,
apart from under the engine room, due to a lack of space. The
ice sheathing on the outside of the hull was greenheart and
fastened so that it could be torn off by the ice without seriously
damaging the hull.
“In addition to the choice of materials and the extra
strengthening of the hull, the rudder was reinforced with three
heavy U-shaped iron frames and both the rudder and propeller
could be lifted up.”
The ship was designed as a three-masted schooner, standing
rigging was steel wire and running rigging was hemp. A windmill
was included on board which ran a generator to provide electric
power for lighting. A 220hp triple-expansion steam engine was
installed and pushed the ship along at 7 knots, provided the
seas were calm.
Fram was finally launched at Colin Archer’s shipyard in Larvik
Subsequently she was used on three important expeditions:
with Fridtjof Nansen on a drift over the Arctic Ocean (1893-96),
with Otto Sverdrup to the arctic archipelago west of Greenland
(now the Nunavut region of Canada) in 1898-1902, and finally
with Roald Amundsen to Antarctica for his famous South Pole
expedition of 1910-12.
Fram is now housed and exhibited in the Fram Museum at
Bygdøynes, Oslo. The ship seems massive not only because of
the beam but because of the sheer bulk of the materials used.
One cannot envisage this ship being threatened by any squadron
of marauding pack-ice and it is no surprise that it survived so
many challenging polar voyages.
The Fram Museum provides an interesting connection to
our own Maritime Museum which is indeed fortunate to have
custodianship of Kathleen Gillet. h
Colin Archer and
Links Archive AFLOAT April 2015 AFLOAT June 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page