HERMIONE'S BALLAST: A WEIGHTY TALE December 31, 2013
IN STORY SEAS, THIS BALLAST MUST REMAIN IN PLACE.
EACH BAR WAS PLACED BY HAND AS BALLAST IN HERMIONE'S HOLD, A TOTAL OF 21,000 PIECES.
THE HERMIONE TEAM OF VOLUNTEERS ARE SEEN HOLDING GRANITE BLOCKS OF BALLAST THAT ARE SOURCED IN ROCHEFORT, FRANCE, HOME OF THE FAMOUS FRIGATE.
On the Hermione, its ballast totals 225 tons, and it is critical in assuring the vessel’s stability. Besides a ‘flotilla’ of heavy iron bars (See photo above) placed within nooks and crannies in the deepest depths of the ship’s hold, Hermione’s ballast also consists of various modern-day technical installations, including a pair of diesel motors, an electric generator and other traditional below-deck cargo consisting of cannons, cannonballs and other nautical supplies.
As with other tall ships of this era, Hermione’s ballast is comprised principally of pig-iron bars, each weighing from 15-30 pounds. These bars were selected because they were relatively easy to handle and install; yet collectively they deliver the necessary weight and stability. Additionally, 12 tons of granite blocks from the city of Rochefort rounded out the remainder of the needed ballast in Hermione’s hold.
To be sure, in story seas, this ballast must remain in place.
Should it shift in a violent pitch, it could spell mortal danger with the ship capsizing owing to the un-harnessed movement of loose ballast.
Fortunately, our Association’s volunteers undertook this operation, which lasted several months, all under the direction of Nicolas Massé.
So deep within Hermione’s hold, strong crossbeams form a network of tight containments, each hugging its ballast of pig-iron bars or granite blocks securely in place. The installation of these pig-iron bars is laborious work; it must be done by hand.
One by one, each bar was placed by hand as ballast in Hermione’s hold, a total of 21,000 pieces. The installation of these pig-iron bars is laborious work; it must be done by hand.
One by one, each bar was placed by hand as ballast in Hermione’s hold, a total of 21,000 pieces.
Last but not least, each ballast containment features an interlaced net (See photo at left), made of strong rubber strands, to prevent each bar and block from sliding from its appointed position.
This final act of ballasting in Hermione’s hold takes place in the middle of the vessel: 80 more tons of pig-iron and granite bars and this operation is done!
Next, we will have to contend with loading 50 tons of cannon, but that’s another sailor’s tall tale…..