The hull remains were reassembled in an as-built orientation at the conservation lab; this served as an additional check on the graphic reconstruction work and provided the opportunity for further detailed investigation of such features as fastening angles as well as surmark alignment. In general, the CRL staff enabled the study of La Belle's design and construction to become an integral part of the reassembly process. I would particularly like to acknowledge the collaboration and support in this effort of fellow archaeologists Peter Fix, Peter Hitchcock and Jim Jobling.
La Belle's design process begins with the relatively simple task of establishing the two-dimensional contours of the centerline timbers and the midship frame. These contours define the main proportions of the vessel's length and width, and thus it is not surprising that 12 out of the 18 key measurements in La Belle's devis relate to them (Figure 20a, b).
The Centerline Profile
A keel length of 45 ft is the first measurement listed in the devis, and several of La Belle's other basic measurements are derived from this length. The devis' specific phrasing for the keel measurement, longueur de quille portant sur terre, refers to a design measurement and not a timber length (Ollivier 1736:362). In Figure 21 it is the horizontal distance between the intersection of the curve of the stem with the bottom of the keel, point C, and the intersection of the after side of the sternpost with the top of the keel, point B. The two timbers that comprise the keel actually extend beyond these points both forward and aft. The forward piece of the keel, referred to as the forefoot in this essay, incorporates part of the lower curve of the stem (Figure 22) (Roberts 1992:357). In the stern the keel is not preserved past the after face of the sternpost, but pieces of the outer sternpost and an overlapping garboard plank survive (Figure 23a, b). These timbers indicate that the top of the keel extended six inches past the sternpost and probably even further on the bottom due to an angled skeg (Figures 10, 21). Over most of its length the keel is 6 inches sided (wide) and 8 inches moulded (high). Thus for design the above information gives two parallel lines AB and CD 8 inches apart (Figures 20a, 21).
The devis provides three other measurements that relate directly to the length of the vessel. The total length between the stem and sternpost is given as 51 ft, the rake of the stem as 4 ft 6 inches, and the rake of the sternpost as 1 ft 6 inches. The given length measurement of 51 ft is simply the two rake measurements added to the keel length, and therefore it does not independently give any additional information. Both the rake measurements are ratios of the keel length. The stem rake is 1/10 the keel length and the sternpost rake is 1/3 the stem rake or 1/30 the keel length. NEXT
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