Low Impact for a Tall Ship

from “Rovings,” Professional BoatBuilder No. 157
Compiled by Dan Spurr

matthew turnerLyn Hines

In Sausalito she’s being built of nearly all Douglas-fir with bronze fastenings.

Expanding on a program running for the last 10 years on different working sailing ships for Northern California youth, first started by the Call of the Sea organization, the Educational Tall Ship (ETS) has undertaken construction of the Matthew Turner in Sausalito, California. This waterfront area is known for traditional boatbuilding and shipbuilding, historically and today, thanks to educational organizations like the Arques School and the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center. Inspiration for the new build is drawn from Matthew Turner, a San Francisco shipbuilder, who built 228 vessels between 1868 and 1907, largely for trade. Carrying a load of sugar, his Lurline set a record from San Francisco to Hawaii of eight days, six hours.

Alan Olson, executive director of Educational Tall Ship, explains they are working to build a historic design, with modern materials, under eco-friendly commitments, with a primarily volunteer workforce and public financial support. The mission has been to reach diverse groups, culturally and economically, and bring them together on a ship outside their “bubble.” In the current programs, ETS has 5,000 students a year engaged in three-hour trips, where they learn ecology, history, and sailing, with longer trips to Mexico.

tall ship drawingCourtesy Educational Tall Ship

The 100′ (30m) brigantine Matthew Turner, named after a 19th-century shipbuilder in the Bay Area, California, will employ various hybrid electrical-regeneration systems.

During the construction, Olson is committed to limiting environmental impact to as close to zero as possible; the building site was graded and compacted, and a temporary membrane was put in place to contain any leakage. Actually, the principal errant substances are sawdust and some epoxy dust, which is inert and not toxic once cured.

In selecting building materials, environmental sustainability, its impact on production, and end-of-use cycle were all factors. The majority of wood was donated by The Conservation Fund from forests in Northern California, managed by forest-stewardship programs. Primary woods are Douglas-fir, Oregon white oak, and ash for blocks.

Laminated frames, stem, and keel are built offsite with epoxy resins. The outer skin, just started, is 3 (76mm) Douglas-fir steamed carvel planking. The decking is 3 tongue-and-groove Douglas-fir followed by ¾ (19mm) FSC marine plywood. The final 11⁄18 x 3.5 (16mm x 89mm) composite fir deck will be vacuum-bagged and -glued to the plywood.

Big advances in electric motors and sophisticated battery management will help meet the objective of a neutral carbon footprint. A series of hybrid electrical-regeneration systems will be used: dockside solar panels, reversing propeller shafts attached to alternators for power generation under sail, generators fueled with recycled vegetable oil, and wind turbines all work to power two 150-kW electric motors and supply onboard electrical needs.

The two-mast Matthew Turner measures 100 (30m) on deck, with a beam of 25 (7.6m), a draft of 10 (3m), 176 tons displacement, and a sail plan of 7,100 sq ft (660m2). She will have 36 berths and carry 80 guests for day sails. Anticipated launch date is 2016. See her at 2330 Marinship Way, Sausalito, CA USA, tel. 415–886–4973. You can also watch a live feed of her build at www.educationaltallship.org.

proboat dingbat