At the end of June we were done with our job on the Gjøa. We packed and sent all our tools back home and went on holiday. In our heads, we knew that a couple of us had to come back and do some smaller, extra jobs on board before he Fram museum could make an opening in the fence and welcome people on board. The date for the opening ceremony was set for the 14th of September, and the Gjøa will be open to the public on the 15th..
After a comfortable summer holiday, with low temperatures and rain, we were ready for work again. Suddenly the opening date was a lot closer to us. Øystein and Arno immediately started to make a small cabin, which looked like a little dollhouse. This was to be placed so that the cargo hatch was inside the walls, and yet underneath the dollhouse floor. The house is the galley on board, and it made up all the space the cook was given to make food for the 7 crew members.
We studied older photos that gave us a very good idea of how the galley was made and how big it was. Unfortunately, there are no photos showing the interior. To point out that the cook on board, Lindstrøm, had very little space to work in should be unnecessary. I have read that he was on his knees when he worked in the galley even though he was a short guy. The height inside the galley is less than a meter and a half (5 feet), and the distance between the walls is approximately 180 cm (6 feet). I figure that my wife would not be happy with me if that was all the space she had to work in, in our kitchen at home.
Roald Amundsen in front of the galley before departure from Oslo in 1903. The floor inside is quite a bit higher than the deck Amundsen is standing on as the cargo hatch is hidden underneath it.
Here we see the newly built galley on board. It is not yet finished and painted.
The galley is made of five main parts that can be separated from each other and stowed away. What surprised me the most, when studying the image from 1903, is that the sides were bolted together and that hexagon nuts were used. I thought we Norwegians were behind technologically and still used square nuts at that time. This shows me that I had been wrong.
We now have one week left on board. During this final week we will put up moldings inside, paint the galley outside, and mount the portholes. The portholes are rings of bronze that our friends from the Maritime Center in Fredrikstad are casting. They are handy and clever craftsmen and I am quite excited to see the result.
The blacksmiths have made both “this and that” lately and the toughest job has been hammering out the iron knees that hold the beams to the ship’s side. All the knees are now bolted in place, and the blacksmiths are both proud and satisfied. They have every reason to be, because their knees fit incredibly well, both in shape and angles. The angles, along the length of each knee, change all the way, so that the backbone of the knee twists to fit the ship’s side. It was a really well done job, especially when you know that they have not even seen where the knees belong. The first time they saw where the knees ended up, was when they were on board last week to make sure the knees fit well.
The blacksmith apprentice Alice Best makes sure that the knee fits to the hull.
Also among the blacksmith’s creations is a set of railings for the steep staircase in the forecastle. Before we mounted them, our rope maker, Sarah, got her hands on them and dressed them with a thin linen string. Now they are extra decorative, and in polar areas they would be more comfortable to touch than the naked steel.
The railings to the staircase are decorated with thin linen string.
In addition to mounting these things on board, we have gotten the different jibs on board. We have rolled them up, and packed them nicely, so that they do not block too much of the view from the spectators. We have used old rope of natural fibers for lanyards and sheets, and spliced them together with old wooden blocks. It’s nice to see how the boat changes character with some more ropes, blocks and sails. The main image at the top of this page shows how it looked a few days ago.
Everything has an end. In a short while our job on board the Gjøa will end for this time around.
September 15th, it is the opening day of the Gjøa. After this date, everyone can go on board and see what it looks like both above and below deck. The boat is not designed for those with high mobility impairments, as people have to be able to cross over heavy beams and enter and climb steep staircases. I still believe that most people will have a good experience and understand a little more of how the crew had it onboard by visiting the Gjøa after this restoration. It has been a pleasure to work for the Fram Museum and to bring this icon closer to what it was like when Amundsen owned it. We still have a few things to finish before the 15th, so of course I cannot sit here much longer and write this blog.