Build the Mercury
- by Jim "Goose" Goodwin
The following is from the Storyboard Instructions for Making the Mercury used in the movie "The Lovely Bones"
The Mercury Ship & History
Cockburn sent 4 ships to catch the Mercury. Capt. Wallace pressed on all sails, cut away the long boat, dumped several cannons, and successfully out sailed his foe. Wallace's outstanding seamanship saved North Carolina from invasion. With his surprise thwarted, Cockburn left North Carolina waters, sailed up the Chesapeake Bay & sacked Washington, D.C.. C.S. Forester's fictional seaman, Horatio Hornblower, is based on Admiral Cockburn.
The Mercury is known as a double topsail schooner. In 1812 seaman terms, she was called a "Jackass Brig". The term "jackass" refers to being a "mixture or cross"...like a mule. The Mercury has the fore & aft gaff-rigged sail of a schooner, like the Hattie Creef, & square sails like the Bermuda.
From a sib-craftsman perspective, it is the most challenging of "The Lovely Bones Fleet." The Mercury SIB has a two-piece hull section. The lower piece is already positioned in the bottles. The way that the square sails are rigged, both masts will rise together by pulling one group of lines.
Inserting the Mercury
5. Insert the Mercury hull. Make certain that the sails neatly overlap each other. It should side in easily with a little wiggling.
6. Using the long tweezers, grip the bowsprit near the hull. Clear away the pull strings that pass through the bowsprit before gripping the bowsprit. Note: the Mercury's hull is too heavy to use the polypus in this step. Use the long tweezers.
7 . Place Mercury hull on the lower hull section. You do not have to hit the dowel pins at this point.
8. Pull gently the "J" lines. Masts & jib sails will position themselves. You can switch to the polypus tool now if you desire. Grip the lower portion of the bowsprit near the hull.
9. Gently pull the "2" lines. You can wrap the tan line around the ring finger tip for more control in pulling the sail.
10. Gently pull the "1" lines with similar technique as in step # 9. This insertion process takes about 3 minutes.
11. Grip the lower fore mast & place upper hull on to the dowel pins of the lower hull. Use a knitting hook to press hulls together. check the fit, then remove upper hull & set it towards the port side away from the lower hull while applying glue.
12. Place some white glue on a Q-Tip dowel. Do not overload the Q-Tip with glue...it will drip. Make sure Q-tips are taped to the dowel with white masking tape. Blue painter's tape is not correct for this film's time period.
13. Insert glue-laden Q-tip dowel & spread on lower hull section. May need several applications. Don't worry if white glue gets on ocean or lower hull sides...it will dry clear. If glue drips on pull strings, use a water / spit laden q-tip to clean up your mess.
14. Place upper hull on to lower hull with polypus gripping the lower foremast. Press hulls together with clean knitting hook.
SECURING THE MASTS & SAILS
Follow the masts & sails securing steps for the Hattie Creef, steps 15 - 25. Secure masts & sails working aft to fore to jib. It is the same process.
Once fore & aft sails, masts & jib sails are secured, square the sails w/ the brass hook tool (see step # 23 in Bermuda story board)
RAISING MERCURY MAST BOTTLES
Note: To accommodate for masts raising, the position of the ship is slightly forward than the completed Mercury bottles. This was done so that the mast could be closer to the deck & give more dramatic effect. Also, the square sails in these bottles have been glued so they will not need severe adjustment as when the ship first goes into the bottle. Fore and aft sails are close to the masts to enhance the visual "ooh - ahh". You can experiment with pulling all three pull groups at once...or have "father & daughter" pull specific lines. When pulling the lines, one hand should be on the bottle somewhere near the stand to keep the bottle from sliding out of the stand.
2. Pull the "J" line group first. Then pull "2", then "1" . Masts & sails will be in position.
giving some slack in the jib lines with the brass hook. Pull slack on jib lines between the fore mast & bowsprit
using knitting hook or polypus, gently push the masts down. Can place hook on the top sail.