Le Français is one of the last existing traditional tall ships, a 47m 3-masted barque built in 1948. Fitted out by the Marine Events company in Saint-Malo, this ship was fully restored in the United Kingdom before being transferred to the French flag in 2018. This winter the boat entered the yard on the Keroman ring, in Lorient, for its winter maintenance.
Repair or replace?
WoodSpars™ was consulted by the shipowner for repair work on the lower masts. After thoroughly probing the spars, it was clear that whatever repairs were undertaken to the “rotten” areas, they would not guarantee the fractional rigging as a whole. The shipowner therefore made the decision at the beginning of January to replace them.
Marine Events placed an order with us for three new lower masts and a topgallant mast, in hollow glued laminated timber, finishing included, with a delivery time scheduled for April, the date of the ship’s refloating. Added to this was the revision of fittings, bolts, platforms (TOPS), wedges and cleats in oak wood, as well as painting and staining of the whole assembly in seven layers.
Storage or just-in-time?
To be able to produce so many pieces in three months, it is necessary above all to have a stock of wood.
Our supply policy requires that we buy our wood timber all year round from French and foreign producers in order to store them at our production site in Morbihan.
We thus avoid uncertain delivery times linked to just-in-time purchasing management. We therefore have a constant stock of ten cubic meters.
A few key figures
For these new lower masts, the choice fell on Sitka Spruce, a Canadian pine which has the advantage of being light and resistant.
To build 3 spars of 16 to 18m – with a diameter of 45 to 60cm at the strongest – and 1 topgallant mast, more than 30 cubic meters of logs were needed.
What about skilled labour in all of this?
The various stages of cutting, handling, assembly, gluing, pressing and steering of the wood lathe represented 1600 hours of work, i.e. more than 200 man days.
Maritime tradition & heritage, the customer’s word
Bob ESCOFFIER: “Even if we can always find small things to complain about, WoodSpars™ kept its commitments and delivered good and beautiful spars. They are made in France and above all comply with the specifications of the French. Financially, the budget was competitive and in addition, they stuck to it. it was respected, which is not always the case in our business. The additional repair work on the 4 tops was carried out at full speed and the mast schedule was thus respected”.
Photo Le Français : Rick Tomlinson