VOC SPIEGELRETOURSCHIP BATAVIA 1628 - KOLDERSTOK 1:72

Heinrich

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Dear Friends

As promised earlier, I invite you all to join me in the build of the Kolderstok Batavia (hereafter the Haarlem as I will explain later). As this is my first build of such a high-end kit, I welcome all input, so please feel free to give as much advice and criticism as you possibly can.

I am not going to repeat my lengthy introduction of the kit and Kolderstok Models - the review is published in the Section: Kit Reviews: Wood, Plastic, Paper. (By the way, thank you all for the tremendous and positive response on that posting). Please see the following link:


Kolderstok has designed the Batavia model to a scale of 1:72 using the Lelystad replica - built by master shipwright, Willem Vos - as an example. Hull, rigging, decks, ornaments etc. are all based on the full-sized replica at the Batavia wharf. The kit contains laser-cut keel and frames, full (single) walnut planking, decks, masts and hand-cast ornaments. Sails are available as a separate kit, containing fabric, plans, instructions, extra thread, blocks and belaying pins. Also availabe is a rescue boat with a length of 12 cm.

Specifications and dimensions of the model are as follows:

Length: 95 cm / 37.4 inch (incl. Bowsprit)
Width: 35 cm / 13.8 inch (at main yard)
Height: 80 cm / 31.50 inch (incl.Standard)
Armament: 24 cannons: 22 shown (two closed gunports)

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In all the cost of this beautifully presented kit (including all the accessories and shipment from the Netherlands to China) came to € 526. The only item that I did not order at this stage is the lifeboat.

BATAVIA HISTORY

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The Batavia was the flagship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and was listed as a Spiegelretourschip, also known as a Return Ship, or East Indiaman. These ships were used by the Dutch East India Company for return journeys between the Netherlands and the Dutch colonies. For transport duties, the Spiegelretourchip was the most important vessel to the V.O.C. - hence these were classified as “ship” as opposed to, for instance, “Jacht” or “Pinas” (Pinnace). In essence, these ships were the same as the battleships of the Dutch Republic and they were armed with the same type of armament - only the number of cannons was different. In case of emergency (e.g. the War against England) it was thus not uncommon that these ships were commandeered for use by the Admiralty.

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This drawing of the Batavia is supplied courtesy of the Western Australian Maritime Museum. The marked section shows the salvaged part of the ship which is on display at the museum.

In 1614, the V.O.C. categorized the Spiegelretourschip into three classes or charters. The smallest class measured 130 feet (36,80m) in length; the medium-class 138 feet (39,05m), and the largest class 150 feet (42,45 m). In 1626, the VOC revised this classification to increase the maximum length to 160 feet (45,28 m). The only exception was the ships built by the Chamber of Zeeland which were allowed a maximum length of 170 feet (48,11m). Built in 1628 for the Chamber of Amsterdam by the East India Dockyard at the “Peperwerf” (Pepper Wharf - Amsterdam), the Batavia was built to conform to the VOC’s “New Classification” of 160 feet. The construction process took approximately 8 months to complete and was concluded at a cost of fl.100.000 gulden. The average life expectancy of a spiegelretourchip was penned at approximately fifteen years.

Note: One Amsterdam foot (Amsterdamse voet; 11 Amsterdam inches) was 28.3133 cm.

In addition to a big load capacity, East Indiamen were also capable of carrying passengers. They were three-masters, carrying square sails or a combination of square and staysails, while the sprit often had a course and topsail. These ships were characterised by the galleon, which could measure up to one fifth of the total length of the ship and from which the spritsails were controlled. To defend herself in combat and to protect her precious cargo, the ship carried 24 cannons.

Batavia Specifications:

Country of Origin: Dutch Republic
Name: Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Owner: Dutch East India Company
Completed: 1628
Maiden Voyage: 29 October 1628
On Board: 341 heads
Fate: Wrecked; 4 June 1629
Location: Wallabi Group, Houtman Abrolhos

General Characteristics

Class and Type: East Indiaman
Tonnage: 650 “Last” (Dutch measurement for tonnage)
Displacement: 1 200 tons
Length: 160 ft (53 m)
Beam: 36 ft (11 m)
Height: 180 ft (55 m)
Draught: 17 ft (5.1m)
Sail Plan: Fully rigged ship
Sail Area: 33 000 sq. ft (1 100 sq. m)
Speed: 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph)
Armament: 24 x Cast-Iron cannons

The Batavia gained her fame - or notoriety - for being shipwrecked off the Australian coast on her maiden voyage in 1628/29 to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and the report written by captain Francisco Pelsaert: Unfortunate Voyage of the ship Batavia. Remains of the ship and of the cruelties committed after her wrecking can be viewed at the western Australian Museum in Fremantle, Australia. There is a tremendous amount of information available on the internet as to what gave rise to the mutiny and the gruesome deeds that were committed subsequently, so if you want to find out more, simply Google: Batavia Ship 1628.

THE V.O.C. SHIP HAARLEM (Also known as the “Ship that Shaped South Africa’s future").

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This tile, courtesy of the M. van Halderen Collection, depicts the Haarlem. The sword that appears as decoration on the stern (Spiegel) of the ship, shows the sword which forms part of the shield which, in turn, is part of the coat of arms of the city of Haarlem.

Despite all the credentials of the Batavia, I have elected not to build her per se, but a variation thereof. I prefer to call it a variation, because the only two visual differences amount to the stern ornamentation and the number of cannons so “kit bashing” it ain’t! Interestingly, the Haarlem’s tonnage is listed at 250 “Last” or 500 tons unlike the Batavia’s 650 “Last” or 1 200 tons. The reason for this is unclear to me at this stage. Like the Batavia, the Haarlem was a Spiegelretourchip, built at the same shipyard and by the same master shipwright - 8 years later in 1636.

So why the Haarlem? Whereas the Batavia’s fate was linked to Australian history, so was the Haarlem’s fate linked to the Cape of Good Hope that would later develop into South Africa. The choice of the Haarlem to a South African with Dutch origins (me !), was thus a no-brainer.

The Haarlem - carrying a cargo of Chinese porcelain, guinee cloth, black pepper and cinnamon - ran aground close to the eastern shore of Table Bay, near present day Cape Town, on 25 March 1647. Soon after, a group of about 58 of the crew were taken aboard other ships and returned to the Dutch Republic. The remaining 62 survivors stayed behind to salvage as much as possible from the wreck. During a period of about a year they lived in a camp close to the shipwreck, on strange ground in Terra Incognita.

One of the people in charge of the salvage operation, Junior Merchant Leendert Jansz, recorded the events at the time in a journal which formed the basis for another document, the Remonstrantie, which led to a decision by the VOC to establish a refreshment station for passing ships at the Cape. The wrecking of the Haarlem resulted in the arrival, in 1652, of Jan van Riebeeck, under whose leadership the first permanent European settlement in these parts was established. This settlement later developed into the City of Cape Town and lay at the basis of present-day South Africa.

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The author of this book, Dutch archaeologist Dr Bruno Werz, has devoted the last 31 years of his life to finding the shipwreck of the Haarlem near Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. Last year in September it was announced that Werz had in all likelihood (95% surety) located the exact position of the wreck. Fundraising efforts are on the way at the moment for the salvaging of the shipwreck. (More on this, and the findings of Dr Werz will be discussed in detail later).

But there’s more: When Van Riebeeck set foot on land on 6 April 1652, among his company of 82 men and 8 women were three men (that I know of) who bore the surname “Cornelissen” (my surname). They are well documented in Van Riebeeck’s journal as they were among the first Free Burghers / Free Citizens. Permits were issued in February 1657 to nine company servants (who became the first Free Burghers) to farm their own land in order to relieve the wheat shortage. Among them were Peter Cornelissen, who had been an expert hunter in the V.OC.’s service, Jan Cornelissen a farmer by trade and Leendert Cornelissen - a ships carpenter, who received a strip of forest to cut timber for the settlement.

The map below shows the farms allocated to the first of these men.

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This then concludes the first part of my post. The next step will deal with the actual building log of the model.

Thank you all for your interest and for reading.

Kind regards, Heinrich
 

Heinrich

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With the historical background and build motivation out of the way, it is now time to move onto the actual build log.

The first step was to glue the port and starboard keel braces to the false keel. Care has to be taken to line up the braces with the slots in the false bulkhead slots and not with the edge of the keel. The idea is to create a channel between the braces and the keel into which the planking will slot later on. To ensure that braces were perfectly aligned, with the slots, I inserted two triangular pieces of wood (the corners of which were checked beforehand to make sure that they are square) into the keel slots. The keel braces were glued and simply pushed up against the two triangular pieces of wood to ensure perfect alignment before they were clamped and left to dry.

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Triangular pieces of wood inserted into the relevant keel slots.

Build 102.jpg
The keel braces were pushed up against these triangular pieces to ensure their correct placement and clamped to dry.

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Note that the keel braces are designed to leave a slight gap between the actual brace itself and the edge of the false keel. This slot or channel is created for the hull planking to slot into.

Next up, all the bulkheads were carefully removed from their sheeting which proved to be an easy task. The laser cutting was very well executed and pieces came away cleanly. To facilitate the fitting of the first deck (helpdeck), the instructions recommend the bulkhead beams to be cut from the bulkheads and kept aside until further use. Even though the beams are individually numbered, I also tagged them with their exact position (top/bottom) on each beam.

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Bulkheads removed. Note the precise edges of the laser-cutting. Kudos to Kolderstok.

Build 106.jpg
All the bulkhead beams removed from the bulkheads and tagged. As a matter of interest,"spant" is the Dutch word for bulkhead.

A very nice touch is that the bulkheads come etched with the wales positions. These though, I extended to make sure that they don’t disappear during the sanding and fairing process of the bulkheads prior to the single-layer of planking.

Build 107.jpg
Bulkhead-markings extended.

The keel-assembly of the keel to the false keel is the next step in the build process. The keel is slightly (very slightly) wider than the false keel and extends on either side of the latter. Again, this provides a channel into which the hull planks fit during planking.

Build 108.jpg
The keel, which is made from walnut comes in six sections - three for the underside of the keel, one for the stern and two at the bow. This picture shows the joint between the stern section and the rearmost section of the keel at the bottom. Again, note the channel that is created. As you can see, the joint is absolutely perfect. These pictures were taken after gluing and clearly show how precise the fitment of parts is.

Build 109.jpg

Port Side: The bow pieces of the keel are attached which create the desired slot. Joints are perfect.

Build 110.jpg
Starboard side.

Which then brings us to the fitting of the bulkeads on the false keel. Bulkheads 1, 2 and 3 required slight filing and a good sanding to fit properly into the keel and over the two keel braces. The remainder of bulkheads only required a good sanding (for this I used 240-grit sandpaper) to fit into their slots. And here I have to commend Kolderstok. It is extremely satisfying to hear each bulkhead lock into its position with a satisfying thunk! In fact, once everything was dry-fitted, the fit was so good and solid that you would be hard pressed to tell that no glue had been applied.

The fitting of the helpdeck was something that i was very wary about. If the tight fit of the bulheads onto the false keel was anything to go by, I would have to exercise great care during this process. I could only think of one proper way to do this. Each bulkhead was matched to its slot on the false deck and the slots filed and sanded according to the excact width of each bulkhead. This was a laborious process, but there was no other option. Afterwards all the bulkheads were test-fitted to the false keel to ensure satisfactory fitment.

Build 111.jpg
The false deck has been dry-fitted to the bulkheads into which they will slot during fitment. This process required patience, patience and ... did I mention ... patience...

Finally, everything could be glued. As the fitment of the helpdeck is a great aid in ensuring that all the bulkheads are perfectly aligned and that everything is level, it has to be fitted before the glue on the bulkheads has completely dried. This will still allow the bulkheads to be manipulated into position if required, but would demand fast work from my side. After a deep breath, i jumped in and glued bulkheads 4 to 13 (the ones over which the false deck fits).

With a huge sigh of relief the false deck slotted perfectly into its position, with all the bulkheads perfectly intact. Phew !!! I could not have asked for a better fit. The false deck lies completely flat and level on all its supporting bulkheads and there are no gaps or unsightly seams between the deck and bulkeads. Simply put, I could not have asked for a better fit.

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Note that the keel is as straight as the proverbial arrow - absolutely no warping or bending of any kind.

Now, it was time for a cup of coffee and a well-earned break.

Thank you so much for your interest and for following.
Kind regards-Heinrich
 

Heinrich

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Thank you, Zoly. Yes, at this stage it certainly looks like it was designed very well. I am sure that the inevitable problems and frustrations will still come, but for the moment, it's nice to know I am on the right track.
 

Heinrich

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With this huge confidence booster under my belt, I continued with the stern assembly. Here everything slotted perfectly into place with the minimum of sanding required. I love the checks and balances that Kolderstok has designed into the kit. For the stern (and bow) assembly there are two supporting ribs that practically lock 3 bulkheads together and into their final position. If these click into position, you can rest assured that all bulkeads (and effectively the whole stern and bow assemblies) are perfectly aligned.

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The supporting ribs which are used in the bow and stern assemblies. On the left are the ones for the bow.

Build 124.jpg
Stern Assembly. Note the supporting ribs.

Next up was the bow assembly which followed the same procedure as that of the stern. Once again the two supporting ribs ensured perfect alignment of the three front bulkheads.

Build 125.jpg
Bow Assembly

At the end of this phase of the assembly, what you have is an extremely solidly constructed and rigid hull. The curvature of the hull looks absolutely amazing and from certain angles it looks more like a Plank-on-Frame model than a Plank-on-Bulkhead one! Am I excited about the build so far? You bet!

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The last two bulkheads and top part of the stern have not yet been glued into place as I still have to decide on whether I want to display the stern cannons or keep the gunports closed. As the Haarlem had more cannons than the Batavia, I might need those! (More on this to follow after I have liaised with Hans of Kolderstok).

Thank you very much for your interest and for following.
Kind regards - Heinrich
 

Uwek

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Hallo again,
what a start of a building log - I am pretty sure, that this will make a lot of fun for all of us !
For you Heinrich, fun to build her - and for us to see your progress
I know, that Jim and Zoly have occupied the first row already, but I try to see everything of your work from the second row - I am tall enough ;)
 

Heinrich

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Hi Uwe

Thank you so much for your kind comments - coming from an expert builder like yourself (even though you are too modest to admit it), it means a lot. Progress will now be a lot earlier as we are teaching more and more online classes here in China and the preparation for that takes ages! There is also a bit of headscratching that lies ahead with the layout of the cannons and the possibility of fitting lighting. But ... very happy so far!

Kind regards - Heinrich
 

Kolderstok

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I'm a bit late, but luckily Heinrich did keep a balcony seat free for me. :)

To be honest - I know almost all the ins and outs of this ship, but it is always very satisfying to see that - after 5 years since I developed the kit - it still all works properly in the way it was mentioned.
 

Heinrich

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Hello Jan. Thank you very much for your kind words. Of course there is a seat on the balcony! You are most welcome. To be honest, I think this part was the easy part of the build. From now on, things will go slower with a lot more thought required, so I will need all the advice and input from you guys.

Kind regards-Heinrich
 
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