Bosun School

Introduction to Caulking

Yesterday afternoon, Captain Moreland led a workshop that introduced the Bosun School students to caulking.  We had been waiting until more of our students arrived to get into this specialized skill.  Our gang of Canadian students started in mid July and we have been joined over the past few days mostly by students from the USA who are now allowed to enter Canada.  The students are here with us in Lunenburg to learn and practice hands-on skills related to boats and ships.

In the workshop, Captain Moreland gave an introduction to what caulking is and the tools that are used to do it.  We have a couple of practice boards that look like sections of a deck, one bigger and more heavy duty like you’d find on a ship and one lighter like you’d find on a small wooden boat.  The cracks between each plank are of varying size and shape, giving students a chance to practice with different scenarios.

This particular lesson didn’t involve a hands-on component, it was just to introduce the idea and get the students’ minds working to grasp the basic concepts.  The Captain started by talking about wooden boat construction and situations where planks would and would not have to be caulked.  He then talked about different types of materials used for caulking, including oakum, cotton, and even rags in an emergency.  He also talked about the kinds of sealant that go over the caulking material, including pitch, Sikaflex, Slick Seam, and roofing cement.  Different parts of Picton Castle’s decks have different sealants depending on what the deck is primarily used for.  Many different caulking tools were on display and Captain Moreland talked about different caulking irons, caulking mallets, and reefing tools.

The students asked a lot of great questions about the size and thickness of the planking, why use a caulking mallet instead of a regular hammer, where oakum comes from, and more.

In the coming days, students will reef out the caulking that’s currently in the practice boards (mostly oakum with pitch) and practice putting it back in again.  Once they’ve had a chance to get the feel for it on a very small scale, they’ll move to Picton Castle’s main deck and get some hands-on practice with caulking and applying pitch.