spiritofatlantis.com | Duane K. McCullough

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Gif images of Freya


By Duane McCullough


The hull of the good ship FREYA was built in '63 by a 91-year old boatsmith named Lawson Tyler of Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Her mast and rigging were installed in Annapolis Maryland in '65 together with an Atomic 4 engine. A small plywood cabin and deck was constructed over the open hull to allow for a voyage down the Intercoastal Waterway to the Florida Keys.

FREYA was made from cypress planks and oak frames with iron nails holding her together. Her 37' overall length and 18 inch draft made her ideal for cruising or living aboard in the Florida Keys. She had a Bugeye sail rig on a Skipjack hull and was a very popular type of Chesapeake workboat of a hundred years ago. Many similar boats were built with no cabin and only had an open hull to hold oysters with minimal deck area. Most of the surface sides of FREYA were two long boards that measured 30' by some 16" at 1.25" thick. FREYA did have a slot within her keel for a centerboard trunk, but did not have a centerboard.

What sets the Chesapeake Skipjack hull design apart from most other wooden sailboat construction is the unique method of bottom planking from the keel to the sides using no caulking. Steam was used during construction to soften the bottom planks near the bow to create a unique twist in the wood planking that makes a sharp forward surface area which efficiently parts the water movement and -- together with a full shallow keel, acts like a forward centerboard to minimize the boat from slipping sideways during sailing to weather.

In '76, I found her half sunk at a Dade county boat ramp in South Florida where I traded a motorcycle worth about $300 to a young man who's parents bought it for him a year earlier for about $2,700. I removed the old plywood cabin and patched a few underwater seams to prepare her for salvaging. The engine was beyond repair and was removed together with a wheel housing system of steering the boat. A simple tiller arrangement provided a sharper turning radius necessary for coming about in light winds.

After towing her to Port Largo in Key Largo for hauling, I moved aboard and "camped out" on her for nearly 14 years in Largo Sound near the headquarters of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

The name FREYA is identified with the mythical Norse goddess of beauty -- however, I renamed FREYA after my artistic work in the Florida Keys and called her SEAART. Little did I know at the time that the spirit of FREYA would again be immortalized with her identity.

As my floating "Florida cottage", I spent many days and nights sailing the waters of Largo Sound and the nearby coast of Key Largo. Together with a sailing canoe and windsurfer, FREYA provided a simple home and affordable lifestyle that allowed me to discover the wonders of living in the Florida Keys.

FREYA also gave me a place where I found the time to study the native history of southern Florida and to recognize important anthropological views of the area. This beautiful wooden sailboat is where my research book project SPIRIT OF ATLANTIS began and became a reality.

Over the years and after several haulings at a local boatyard for bottom and topside work, the iron nails that held her together began to bleed with oxidation ever so much -- and without significant monies to continue to refurbish FREYA, she slowly began to show her age.

In '91, local state law deemed overnight anchoring in Largo Sound as an illegal act -- unless users paid money to anchor overnight on a mooring, so I sailed her to the bayside of Key Largo and created a mooring site where warm wonderful sunsets could be experienced aboard.

I sold FREYA in '92 to someone who needed a home for about the price I paid in '76. Perhaps one day the spirit of her design will sail again. Last seen ashore in Blackwater Sound, her whereabouts is unknown.

Images of Freya

Images of Freya2

Images of Freya3


Images of the Freya model

FREYA was created over three months using the Anim8or program and was converted into a model for the Virtual Sailor program. There are several changes from the real boat and the model -- but the most significant change is the rudder arrangement wherein the model rudder rotates at 90 degrees whereas the real boat rudder rotated at the angle of the transom. The Virtual Sailor 6.7 program can not vector rudder angles -- so, I changed it to the 90 degree angle.

Thanks to Jeff Koppe for his invisible object and to Adam Galazka for some of his texture files. Also thanks to Ilan Papini, the author of the VS program -- and many other VS boat builders for their model examples from which the Freya project is based on.

UPDATE: 2016 FREYA 2 the model

The model FREYA now works in Vehicle Simmulator (VSF) program. I reworked the model to reflect the idea that the sides of the boat are made from two large boards with half of a third board cut diagonal to give rise to the forward part of the boat. In other words, the sides of the boat are made from two and a half large boards with other smaller boards that tie it all together to the transom and front post -- which, in turn, are connected to the main keel.

While reworking the FREYA model, I wanted to simplify the design and scale it to another model project the size of a kayak. Researching the history of the boat and where it was built, I discovered that the original boat builder of FREYA on Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay -- Lawson Tyler, was also Captain Lawson Tyler who once built in 1919 a famous small 20-foot motorized "crab skiff" racer that has inspired many other boat builders to learn the heritage of Chesapeake watercraft designs.

So -- perhaps, a kayak version of the FREYA project may be created one day and be used to further explore the world of small boat designs.

For those who would like to sail the Freya model in Ilan Papini's VSF program, I plan to upload the model to the VSF website soon. Also, check out my Virtual Sailor Extras page at this website for more information about other models I have created.

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