Whaleboat Diorama

As part of modeling the whaling brig Daisy, I built a related model of a whaleboat.  This model is the only one I have built from a kit in many years.  The kit is of a New Bedford whaleboat by Model Shipways, in 1:16 scale.  It has been in my storage for perhaps a decade and as part of downsizing, I decided to use it for my whaling series.

The kit was built pretty much out of the box, with some modifications based on photographs of the actual Daisy whaleboats from the 1912-13 voyage, and fabrication of most of the metal work instead of using the metal supplied.  I also made up some rope to use for the whale-line and other smaller ropes for the boat instead of using the materials supplied.

Once the model was together, I made a six-member crew for it and modeled them, and the boat, at the time the harpooner was planting a second, back up, harpoon into a small sperm whale, with the first harpoon already in place.

I first made up a plywood base 24″ x 34″ and modeled a whale using a sort of plank-on- bulkhead method of cardboard and papier Mache strips using waterproof glue.  Once the basic shape was dry,  I coated it with some slow-drying patching plaster, painted, and varnished it. I then edged this base with 1 1/2″ thick pine, and painted the “sea” with shades of dark gray, green, and blues.

Then I  1/8″ thick acrylic sheet tob24″ x 34″ and made cut outs for the whale, the boat and the oars.  Once the acrylic was secured to the edges of the base with screws,  I  got the boat positioned to my satisfaction and then used quick setting epoxy adhesive to secure the boat to the acrylic and the acrylic to the whale.  The surface of the acrylic is textured to resemble white water and small wavelets using layers of epoxy adhesive and clear kitchen plastic wrap.  The goal was to make the water appear as it might when the boat was operating in the midst of a pod of surfacing whales, when the harpooned whale is starting to sound, and the oarsmen are backing water to make a quick exit to avoid the flukes of the sounding whale.

First is a photo of the book used as a reference for the model showing a whale boat returning to the mother ship, towing a whale, then the photos of the model.

Following are some photos of the finished diorama, then some of the figures made from polymer clay, before painting, and a shot of the whale line as supplied and the tighter twisted rope I made up and used, made from 100% cotton.

The crew fabricated from polymer clay over a steel wire armature. You can also see the multiple harpoons.  Some are already stored along the starboard side.  The ones lying athwart the gunwales are to be used for the harpooner figure and for the whale.

Whale line.  Upper – as supplied in kit.  Lower, as made up from 100% perle cotton, size 5, three plied into rope.