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1904-1905: Commissioning and Construction of the Asgard

Colin Archer, photographed in his shipyard in Larvik, Norway, 1903. Norsk Folkemuseum. Photograph: A.B. Wilse.

In October 1904 Erskine and Molly Childers and her father Dr. Hamilton Osgood travelled to Norway to discuss the building of the yacht with Colin Archer.

Erskine and Molly had married the previous January and Dr. Osgood offered to pay for the construction of a yacht as a wedding present. Building work began in April 1905 and the vessel was launched that August at the port of Larvik in Norway.

The Asgard was designed by Colin Archer along the lines of a Norwegian pilot boat of between 15 and 17 tons displacement. These sturdy vessels were the crowning achievement of Archer’s career and were familiar to Childers from his earlier days sailing around the seas of Northern Europe.

The vessel is 15.5 meters in length with a beam of 4 meters. She was constructed at a time when new technologies were transforming the way in which wooden boats were constructed. The most important development was the increased use of mechanised saws which allowed ship wrights to cut timber to the precise shapes required. Construction began in April 1905, Childers was very involved in the construction process as is evidenced by the large amount of correspondence between he and Archer in which they discussed much of the detail of the ships construction. He was particularly concerned about the internal layout of the ship as his wife Mary (Molly) had suffered an injury to her foot as a child and had difficulty walking.

The Asgard was constructed from various kinds of pine and oak, with small amounts of other woods for some sections. The construction process began with the vessel being lofted (drawn out in full to ensure the sections matched). This blue print would then be used as a template to mark out sections on timber ready for cutting. The keel would be laid first followed by the ribs of the vessel. When this was done the master ship wright, in this case Colin Archer, would carefully assess the frame to ensure it was symmetrical before allowing work to begin on the hull planking. After this the interior and deck would be constructed while the rigging would be put together by specialists.

Apart from a few minor leaks and issues over the quality of the sails, Erskine and Molly were very pleased with the vessel.   

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