thinking outside the tank

The Spray is still the Spray

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at:

Now, it is a law in Lloyd’s that the Jane repaired all out of the old until she is entirely new is still the Jane…the Spray changed her being so gradually that it was hard to say at what point the old died or the new took birth, and it was no matter.

That’s what Joshua Slocum wrote about the reconstruction of his sloop Spray in 1892/3. Over a period of 18 months he replaced every timber with the stoutest, most durable woods he could find – pasture white oak, Georgia pine, and New Hampshire spruce. All was screwed and bolted together and caulked with cotton and oakum.

A similar transformation is taking place in the 3D models I’m using to reproduce Slocum’s voyage in Google Earth. The first image below is my very crude SketchUp model of the Spray.

Original Spray model in SketchUp

This was never intended to be more than a place-holder for a more sophisticated model, a model with which I could start the project. The next image shows the set of ‘guides’ I built up in SketchUp by taking measurements from printed copies of the Spray‘s lines and body-plan:

Spray Guides in SketchUp

The hull was created as a mess of triangles by joining the guides with lines. I shaped the sails with a ‘skin and bubble’ plugin and they are the best feature, but the superstructure is very rudimentary.

The other thing that has bothered me about this model is that it has a yawl rig whereas the Spray started the voyage rigged as a sloop. It wasn’t until Rio that Slocum converted her ‘in readiness for the tempestuous waters of Patagonia’.

After searching for a better model on TurboSquid and 3DExport – and there are some superb examples – I discovered that it would breach the End User License Agreement of those sites to deploy a model where it could be copied. Google Earth is one such place.

My next port of call, as it were, was PeoplePerHour where I searched for a modelling expert who could take my feeble effort as a starting point and create something that wasn’t embarrassing to show in close-up. I gave the work to Mike Halls of mesh-3D and he created:

Spray as a yawl after conversion in Rio de Janeiro

She is still a yawl, but what a difference!

All on my own, I took my shiny new Spray and removed the mizzen mast and sails and the semi-circular brace, all of which were installed in Rio and, using the Scale tool in SketchUp, I enlarged the mainsail.  This gives me a sloop:

Spray as a sloop

So now I have a sloop and a yawl to play with, and the beauty of the Keyhole Markup Language (KML) used in Google Earth is that’s it’s really easy to switch models:- unplug the old one and plug in the new one. In fact, on the leg of the voyage from Pernambuco to Rio, I have both the sloop and the yawl included in the KML and switch models in the middle of Rio bay. To watch this, go to, then select Chapter V followed by clicking on ‘Pernambuco to Rio de Janeiro’. Allow enough time for the models to load and click the ‘Play’ button when it appears.

The presentation is up to Chapter V and my project must now go in two directions: forwards to complete the remaining 18 chapters, and backwards to replace version 1 of the Spray with version 2. At least going forwards I can zoom in more often to show the model in detail and fire the imagination.

Happy sailing!

The Spray

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012


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