Build the Ice Boat "Roosevelt"
-by Frans Dekker
"One day in January 2009 my wife and I decided to look at the ice-sailing ships at the Gouwzee, a water between Monnickendam en Volendam in the IJsselmeer. It was for the first time in 12 years that there was ice on de IJsselmeer.
I knew there was an association with 14 arctic ice sailing ships. I had the opportunity to sail with the “Roosevelt”, an ice ship built in 1880 and still in good shape. It was an unforgettable experience. Sailing with the Roosevelt, weight over more than 400 kg, 130 years old and still going about 50 kilometres per hour. (because of her age the sailor let her not going on as fast as she could and believe me, she could sail about 80 km/o)
History of the ice-sailing ships:
In a country like Holland, with a lot of water (especially in the old days) the transport took place by boats or ships. Some places in Holland could not be reached over land but only over water. When the winter came in (early on they were quite long in the old days) they needed something else for transport. They found out that a ship on skates could sail as well on ice as on water, even faster. The “ships” look very like a normal ship but because of the amount of sail and having no “under water ship” they could not really sail in water. So they could bring bread and flower, medicine and other things they needed to the isle of Marken, Schokland, Wieringen and other places. They started sailing on ice during the end of the 16th century. In 1840 they started with games and competition. Now these days they will reach speeds of about 120 km/o and even more.
There is a true story about a man called Willem Bording from Durgerdam, a little place on the Ijsselmeer and about 10 km south of Volendam. He was a fisherman with a great family. In the winter of 1849 he went on the ice of the IJsselmeer with two of his sons. They went out on what we call “botkloppen”. That is a way to catch fish in the winter by putting nets under the ice. When the nets are standing they will make noise on the ice. They have a piece of oak wood about 1 meter long. At one end they have made a rope on it. They pull on the rope so one part of the wood comes up. Then they let the rope go and they repeated it many times. The fish don’t like it and start swimming. So they will swim in the nets.
They went out on it on 13 of January with a sort of sledge with a mast on it and a little sail. When they try to go back to the shore the ice was broken. They had to sit on the ice for 14 days while they lived on raw fish and melted ice. When they where found by a fisherman from the other side of the IJsselmeer their health was very bad. After 2 days the father died and the youngest son died after two weeks. The eldest son survived.
As a reward for letting me sail with him I told the sailor I would make a model for him of the Roosevelt in a bottle. I took some pictures and measures and went home. Then there was the trouble to find a bottle. I needed a wide Bottom and a small top. I found a carafe that had all the things I wanted.
Length hull: 8,5 cm
Length with bowsprit: 12 cm
Breadth of the hull: 2,3 cm
Length over all: 13,5 cm
Height: 15,5 cm
Breadth in the beam with skates: 8,5 cm
First I made the bottom from 2 mm thick Oregon-pine. The sides are fitted from two parts of 0,5 mm triplex and are put together at the stem. The stern is made, together with a sitting plank, out of a piece of Oregon-pine. On both sides of the stern is made a construction like the backside of an old yacht from the 17the century. The name is painted on it. A beam is put under the ship and on both ends short parts of a beam with skates in it. The place is just under the mast. The skate is made under the rudder. I made a knee of the head at the stern where I put on the rudder. To finish the hull I made some frames in it. After that was finished I made the mast, boom, bowsprit and gaff. I painted the beam with the skates green and the ship with linseed oil. To let it go in to the carafe the fore stag is going through the top of the mast and so is the starboard stag. That is the way the mast good go laid down.
If you see the original ice-ship at http://www.ijsschuiten.nl you see that the rudder is not hanging on the ship but the ship is leaning on the rudder. The weight of the ship makes the skate under the rudder possible to steer the ship.
In the original ship you can see that there is a rope or chain between the rudder and the ship for in case it will break through the ice and went down in to the water. Then the rudder will stay at the ship. (just like the old 17 and 18 century ships did to hold there rudder). The iron works at the ship were made from thin wire of copper. A small flag at the top of the mast is painted in our national colours.
Then there was an other problem, How to make ice. White clay is never as smooth as ice. The paint store offered the solution. They sold me synthetic resin. A little drop of white paint in it and it look just as ice.
First the ice-ship was made in to the carafe. When it was ready (after some serious trouble) the ship was hanged 1 cm of the bottom of the carafe. I put the “ice” in the carafe through a small plastic pipe. When it was dry I put the ship on the ice an the job was done. (after a lot of problems, first the sail got lost of the gaff, the rudder went out of the ship, the upper part of the stern break out but I managed). At the end, to finish the carafe, there was no cork that fitted but I made a wooden stop and put a Turks heads knot around it. I sealed the top with my sealing wax and put my signature in it."