Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sea of Galilee Boat (Jesus Boat)

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If you are interested in purchasing one of these models please see my web page at SE Miller Guitars or Email me at:  

The cost for a completed model with everything that you see here plus a wooden storage crate is $500.  I offer free shipping to congregations and evangelism missions.

I have listed a model for sale on EBay, please see the post at

I also have kits available for those who wish to purchase one and build your own.  The cost for these is $80 plus shipping and these too are available at the web site.


These photos were originally posted on the now defunct Dry Dock Models forum back in 2006.  I've received many e-mails and requests for the details of the building of this model so I am putting them there on this blog where I know that they will be up for all to see.

The model is based upon plans found in this book.
The book details the amazing discovery of a first century Sea of Galilee fishing boat.  These boats were common on the Sea of Galilee and because they were so mundane, there were only a few images of them in art and pottery that had survived to this date.  The discovery of this vessel gave us new insights into how these vessels were constructed and sailed.  Later in this post I'll give a very interesting example of just how this plays out.

The model was constructed using a strongback as the mold for the hull.  The mahogany planks are glued to one another using thin CA glue.   The CA glue is not visible under a clear coating so any CA glue lines that you see in theses photos will vanish under clear shellac.

Interestingly, the hulls of these first century boats were made in a similar fashion.  Instead of building a series of frames and planking them (like we would today), first century boats were built by joining the planks together and later reinforcing them with internal partial frames, just like in this model.  The only difference is that they did not have CA glue...

When the hull was completely planked, it was cut off from it's attachement to the stongback and this is what it looked like.

You can see that the hull is tear drop shaped with the bow being the more pointed end.  Next internal partial ribs were added to the boat, just like in the original.  These ribs do not extend from sheer to sheer but rather only cover a portion of the hull's profile.  A plastic spaced was used to ensure uniform spacing of the ribs.

A support for the decks and rowing seats was now installed using a wooden spacer to make sure that it was correctly spaced down from the sheer.   And MDF "mold" of the cap rail was used to shape both cap rails to exactly the correct profile and the fore and aft decks were then planked.

 These boats were steered using quarter rudders.  These "steering oars" were lashed to supports on the aft quarters of the boat.  Here are the finished quarter rudders.

The sails were then sewn up.  I used spray starch to stiffen the fabric and a pattern of seams was printed on a piece of paper.  This paper was sewn to the sail so that the seams were properly spaced and striaght.  The sewing machine perforated the paper on the seams so it was easily removed.  Next, wire was sewn into the edges of the sail so that it could be shaped to look like it was holding wind.

Lastly, I made both linen and wire rope for the model.  The wire rope is shown in its unpainted version (red) and painted version (line on the left).  This wire rope is stiff enough to keep the base of the sail off of the mast so it looks like the boat is sailing down wind.

Finally the "small stuff" was made to complete the model.  This included a stone anchor, fishing baskets, ballast bags and a net (made from a party favor bag from a wedding that my wife and I had just attended).

Here is the finished model on its stand, it was good enough to take a Gold at the Midwest Model Ships Competition.

Earlier I had mentioned how the archeological discovery of this boat had validated certain questions that we had about this vessel.  Prior to the discovery of this boat, all we knew about them came from art work on few pottery shards and a few brief mentions of them in ancient writings.

In the new testament there is a story about Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee in one of the boats during a great storm.  This storm was so bad that it frightened the disciples, many of whom were veteran fishermen of this body of water.  The story says that Jesus was asleep in the boat with his head on a pillow.  Prior to the discovery of this boat this story seemed to not ring true for two reasons.  The first of which is "how could anyone sleep through a storm in an open boat?"  We are surprised to find that these boats were not open but had two decks which now makes it possible for someone to be shielded from the storm by being under one of them.

The second question still remains, "why a fishing boat full of scales, nets and baskets would have pillows in it?"  After all this was a working vessel, not a royal yacht.  It turns out that the ballast bags that were used for setting the trim of the boat are still commonly referred to as "pillows" to this day.  So now we can see that Jesus was asleep, shielded from the storm by the aft deck with his head resting on ballast bags!  Once again archeological evidence gives new witness to the fact that these ancient writings are valid.


  1. Love your boat from Galilee Would like to know more of what went on between the second and third picture - from more comments see where I blogged a bit of your work on my blog --

    Ed DeFeller

  2. Great model boat. Question? How did they cut the planking so accurate 2000 years ago? Did they use caulking cotton between the planks? I think it is likely, but could be wrong.

  3. I can't recall anything about caulking mentioned in the book but it has been a while since I last read it. I would bet that they kept the boats wet to swell the wood. I've had old-timers tell me about their row boats from the early 1900's. When they put them away for the winter, the wood would shrink and open cracks would appear between the planks. In the spring they would put them in the water and they would literally sink in the shallow water. The wood would then swell and a day later they would bail them out and they would be good for the boating season.

  4. Upon re-reading the book, it confirmed that there was no caulking used in the boat's construction.

  5. HI Scott,
    Just a lovely model. The names Mario and I had asked you about your many moons ago on MSW. Well MSW went away and lost all the info, they are back up on Version 2. I sure am glad I found your blog to see your boat. I will start a build over the summer of this boat. Your model is an inspiration for me to do well with it. If I may at what scale is the boat at? Did you draw the plans up yourself or did you scan them and then revised them with a software like photoshop?

    Thanks Scott

  6. I am NOT a boat or a model aficionado, I just happened to stumble across this blog while looking into the Jesus boat a little for personal edification... I just wanted to say well done though - you've done an amazing job and I am just so thoroughly impressed with the research you've put into this! Very nicely done, God bless!