Rebuild Independence Group reaches milestone as frames now erected

KI’s boat-building volunteers have reached a milestone in their project to rebuild the sailing ship Independence.

All 14 frames of the ship are now standing in the Rebuild Independence Group (RIG) shed at American River, Kangaroo Island.

The RIG project was initiated in 2015 and since then the shed had been built, funds raised and in the last 12 months, the vessel had taken shape quickly.

“If we can have it planked by next Christmas, we will be well on the way to having it done in the two and half years we want to do it in.” Mr Klieve said.

The original 14-metre top sail schooner was built at American River between April and August 1803 by the crew of the visiting American sealing brig “Union”. 

RIG member Tony Klieve explained the alignment of the 14 big frames was an important milestone as the volunteers could now start planking the vessel.

Visitors can now see the shape of the wine-glass tapered hull with the frames are all lined up. They are made out of spotted gum, which is a traditional Australian boat building timber.

The planking timber, which was Oregon pine from Canada, had been ordered and should arrive in the next few weeks.

The carvel planking method will be used, where hull planks are fastened edge to edge in the three layers, gaining support from the frame and forming a smooth surface.

Mr Klieve was also about to start shaping the ship’s keel, made out of solid block of blue gum timber.

Once the planking had been fitted in three layers, the completed upside-down hull would be take outside the rig shed, turned over the right way and then wheeled back inside for more work.

“Once we’ve got the planking on and it turned over, we will be able to get a lot more people working on it and it should be so much easier,” Mr Klieve said. 

The RIG volunteers had already received great community support with the sale of planks being a big money spinner.

Numerous items ranging from a sounder, engine and ship’s wheel had also been donated to the RIG project. 

More funds for project would also be raised at this year’s Ballast Head Cup yacht race on New Year’s Day.