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  1. Welcome everyone, welcome to Bertie's Big Boat Build. Some years ago, I saw a book in Waterstones called Billy Ruffian - The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon. It was by David Cordingly and was sub-sub titled The biography of a ship of the line, 1782 - 1836. The cover picture showed Napoleon on the poop deck of a ship, staring thoughtfully out to sea which struck me as odd because I knew he was no sailor. It was a brilliantly designed cover and Immediately drew me in. I knew a little about the Great Wars of 1793 - 1815 but almost nothing about the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars at sea. I'd never heard of this ship either; the only man-of-war of the period that I could name would be Victory. reading the blurb on the back of the book suggested that Bellerophon deserved the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. "The Bellerophon, a ship known to her crew as the Billy Ruffian. From her birth in a shipyard near Rochester in 1782 to her death in a breaker's yard 54 years later, the Billy Ruffian's life was both celebrated and crucial. She played a conspicuous part in the most famous sea battles of her era: the battle of the Glorious First of June (1794) which was the opening action against Revolutionary France; The Battle of the Nile (1798) which halted Napoleon's eastern expansion; and the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) during which her captain was shot dead an hour before Nelson was mortally wounded [and which ended forever the threat of the invasion of England by the French]. But her crowning glory came six weeks after the Battle of Waterloo (1815) when Napoleon, trapped in Rochefort, surrendered to the captain of the ship that had dogged his steps for more than twenty years" Dramatic stuff! It turned out to be a really good book and may have ultimately led to my conversion from plastic aircraft modelling, via figures and AFVs to the very different genre of wooden ship models of the age of sail. And now Billy Ruffian will be my third such model. It's the one I've been building up to since the start of the year. First I built a tiny fishing boat - The Lady Isabella, then I started to build HMS Beagle. The Beagle build is still in progress and it's a training ground where I'm learning the skills I'll need for this much larger project. I expect Beagle to be completed in 4-5 months, around the end of the year, after which I'll give my full attention to Bellerophon but in the meantime, I'll be researching her and taking time-outs from Beagle to build some of the sub-assemblies. Maybe a mast, maybe a pinnace, maybe 74 guns. I'd like to post an update here each week, let's say every Sunday. I expect Bellerophon to be finished by the end of the year too; the year 2024 that is. This could easily be 2000 hours in the building, maybe much more. It's the biggest modelling project I've ever dreamed of and I'd put my chances of completing it at 25%. It's going to be a battle between Bertie and Billy to see who lasts longest. I'd love to have your company and encouragement during this epic struggle for which I'm probably not well enough prepared. Digressions and discussions are welcome, as are all of your suggestions and any warnings when you see me about to do something particularly daft. EDIT 24 August. It turned out that I couldn't wait and so I have shelved the Beagle for a while and started work on Bellerophon.
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