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The Pepper Wreck

Virtual Tour

Citation information: Filipe Castro, "The Pepper Wreck Virtual Tour",, last updated in February 2008.



1. A ship in parts


3. Couces

4. Stems

5. Sterns

6. Keelsons

7. C.Frames

8. Armadouras

9. Frames












2. Keels (quilhas)




Scheme of a Portuguese nau keel from the Livro náutico (Alex Hazlett).



Important features:


Total Length =

Length preserved =


a. Is it constant?

b. Sided dimensions =

c. Molded dimensions =

d. Rabbet (alefriz) shape and depth

- at the bow

- amidships

- at the stern

The section of the keel of the Pepper Wreck was not preserved. Its depth was estimated from a preserved bolt, which was bent under the keel when the ship hit the bottom.

How many timbers (paus) form the keel?

Are the sections connected with scarves?

What fastenings are used?

a. Are there recesses for the spike heads?

b. Are the spikes clenched?

Is there a stern heal (couce de popa)?

Is there a bow heal (couce de proa)?

Timber species -

Conversion -

Scheme of a keel scarf after Lavanha c. 1600



Pepper Wreck keel section reconstructed

Iberian ships have been found with very different keel sections. For example:

The small but robust Basque whaler San Juan (1565) has a particular type of keel with the garboards carved from one single timber;

The Pepper Wreck keel was assembled from several rather small timbers connected with flat vertical scarves;

The Cais do Sodré ship keel timbers were not connected in any way.


Flat Horizontal Scarf

Flat Vertical Scarf

Butt Scarf with Waterstop







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Last Updated: 10/14/08