Marco Polo Project Saint John New Brunswick

Marco Polo Project

Peter Walsh/Telegraph-Journal Simonds High School Grade 11 students Steve Dunn,17, Greg McLaughlin,16, and John Kennedy, 16, from left to right, work with Bob Coes, manager for Marco Polo project, on the batten being used to draw a curve.

It 's all hand's on deck as students 'Ioft' ship

November 05/04

   John Kennedy is looking forward to walking along Harbour Passage, pointing to the Marco Polo replica sit ting there and telling his friends and family that "I ` helped build that.
   " It was during his high '' school years at Simonds, he'll tell them, when he was in Grades 11 and 12.
   His dream is only about two years away.
    Before it comes true, he and his classmates have hours of work ahead of them.
   Every morning in the Simonds High School shop, students take co-ordinates to plot the ship's points and lay out the curve of her lines as they "loft" the ship.
   Lofting is the process of going from a small-scale line drawing to full size.
   The work is painstaking and there is no room for error. It is important because it defines the look. of the ship.
   "Holy crab, this is going to be a ship some day," said Mr. Kennedy as he watches draftsman and retired teacher Bob Coes check and re-check measurements and the plotting pattern.
   Bob Coes is kneeling on an eight-by-12 board that serves as a temporary moulding loft on which the rib-lines and beams of the replica of the famous sailing ship are being laid out.The board represents about half of the replica ship's breadth.

SHIP: Vessel's hull to be completed by spring

    Following Mr. Coes' drawings and offset tables, the ship's lines have been drawn on plywood, setting out a pattern for her 40 pairs of white pine ribs.
   The students help transfer the pattern onto wood and cut the frames, all under the direction of Mr. Coes, who is spending most mornings at the school, and their shop teacher, Mike Boyle.
   This work began three weeks ago on this one-third scale, non-sailing replica of the Marco Polo that has been a dream of teacher Barry Ogden for 18 years.
   The hull of the vessel is expected to be complete by spring, after which it will be moved to an approved waterfront site where the remainder of the replica will be constructed in the public eye. Plans call for it to be completed by 2006.
   The students check and re-check angles so no materials are wasted and design jigs as they need them. Jigs are patterns that are cut out and used to keep everything in line.
   This exercise in shipbuilding is worthwhile because it's teaching the students the importance of precise measurement and how to plot points.
   "You have to be very precise," said Mr. Kennedy. "Everything has to be exact."
   Some students, like Grade 11 student Greg McLaughlin, use the project to hone up on math skills, while Chris Forgrave, who wants to be a millwright, has been busy framing, sheathing and joining.
   From start to finish, Mr. Ogden expects this Marco Polo replica will cost about $260,000. It's a fraction of his original $28-million proposal for a full-scale sailing replica that he began pushing for in the early 1990s. The new, modest pricetag includes labour and gifts in kind.
   The original Marco Polo was launched from the yard of James Smith at Marsh Creek April 17, 1851. She was the largest ship the yard had built.
   On her most famous voyage, the ship sailed from Liverpool to Australia in just 76 days, making her the fastest ship in the world. Previous voyages had taken 100 to 120 days. She sank in July of 1883, off Cavendish, P.E.I.