The bulkheads on Hawila

    Hawila was originally built in Norway as a small cargo ship in 1935, and converted afterwards for sailing in coastal waters, long before bulkheads were a requirement by law. Soon her purpose will evolve to a completely new level: crossing the Atlantic, either laden with about 25-30 people onboard, or a full load of cargo. The world is now very different compared to the day her keel was first laid, and Hawila shall therefore fight her way through stringent international safety rules and regulations which were written for giant steel ships, a dozen or hundred times bigger than her, yet, we still have to comply with the same rules to be able to sail cargo.

    For the first time in this refit, we go beyond the restoration and start modifying Hawila into something completely new. We have always been able to visually read what needed to be changed or modified, but now we get to build something which was never there, that gives us a new and exciting building challenge, while complying with new, up-to-date regulations.

    Why do we need bulkheads?

    We need bulkheads in order to divide the ship, separate cargo and living areas, and contain potential localized flooding, and, or fire. To meet the present regulations, four bulkheads are being built onboard. Each bulkhead needs to be water tight and act as a fire retardant. Originally, our surveyor wanted these in steel, but steel generally doesn’t work good with wooden ships as it is stiffer than wood and can rip itself from the hull when the vessel naturally deforms through the waves.

    We try, where possible, to adapt the bulkheads’ location to our needs, and these should enable us to carry at least 50 tonnes of cargo and possibly a maximum of 65, split over two cargo holds. Each of those cargo holds will be convertible, and can be used as a dormitory with 8 sleeping spaces bunks for trainees. This will ensure that we will continue to sail with members, host cultural, and educational events, keeping Hawila’s heritage as a training ship, alive.

    We have fitted two very large bolted doors panels on the central bulkhead, separating the two cargo holds. While being watertight, removing those doors, once open, will allow us to open the space entirely between the two cargo holds, to perform loading-unloading, as well as host cultural events in harbours. In addition, the bulkheads strengthen and make the ship rigid to be able to sustain enormous weight and force from both heavy cargo and heavy weather.

    The aft bulkhead will be completely sealed, hatches are being built parallel to the mizzen mast for the crew to enter the engine room and the port aft cabin. While sailing with cargo, about 17-16 persons will be able to stay onboard, up to 10 in the forward part of the ship, split in 3 cabins, and 7-6 in the aft in 3 crew cabins. Then, with no cargo we can host a maximum of 8-16 additional trainees.

    Each bulkhead structure were made with 15cm oak beam assemblies, reinforced and sealed with 45mm x 40mm pine cladding. The cladding is made with tongue and groove, and screwed to the frames, the keelson, the bulkheads beams and the deck beams. Joints will be tarred and/or caulked whenever necessary. Well-adjusted coamings are running along the inner planking to support the bulkhead cladding, while plugs are inserted into joints between the inner planks to prevent water circulating through these. Watertightness between the existing frames and inner planking will be improved by injecting material, or by working from the outside when replacing the planking. If necessary, concrete sealant will be poured in between the two frames next to each bulkhead location, acting as ballast and ensuring watertightness in this area.

    With a combination of a naval architect, surveyor, and a team of professional boat builders, we look forward to finishing the bulkheads, getting ready to sail and transport cargo!

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