Monday, November 27, 2006

HMS Beagle (replica) - to sail again

The vision of the Beagle Project Pembrokeshire is build a replica of the three masted barque which carried Darwin on his epic voyages (1831-1836). She will be “built of larch on oak frames, the hull will be copper sheathed and the boat will be fitted with modern propulsion, navigation, safety and communications equipment.”
Like the 1830’s vessel, she will be equipped with the latest technology, “to allow aspiring and practising scientists to use her as a platform from which to collect specimens and on which to store samples and stage experiments". She will be an inspiration to a new generation of scientists.
And on her first major voyage (2009) she will circumnavigate the globe, retracing the voyage the Beagle took in Darwin’s day.
The original ship:
When the Beagle was launched on the Thames in 1820, she was brig-rigged carrying only two masts with square-rigged sails. Because this design of ship sat low in the water and had a habit of turning-turtle if mishandled in heavy weather, it was sometimes referred to as a ‘coffin ship’.
In 1825, however, she was re-rigged as a barque with the addition of a mizzen (third) mast fitted with fore and aft sails. This configuration made the ship more manoeuvrable.
When HMS Beagle was commissioned in 1831 to continue survey work in the Southern Ocean, she was again refitted under the direction of Robert FitzRoy, her captain, who ensured she benefited from the latest in nautical technology. For example, for the first time in a Royal Navy ship, lightening conductors were fitted to all the masts.
At 235 tons, the Beagle’s masts and spars were extra strong, and chains had been used in place of ropes where possible.
It was under the command of skilled navigator and surveyor, Captain FitzRoy, the ship carried the young naturalist, Charles Darwin on the voyages which were to lead to his theory of evolution.

For more information on the Beagle Pembrokeshire Project go to:
The Beagle Project.

Photo (M. Muir - HMS Endeavour replica)

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