You likely already know that Salt Wharf sits on a site rich with hundreds of years of shipbuilding history. Mighty oceangoing vessels have been built here (where the Lyman-Morse boatyard sits) for hundreds of years. In visualizing what Salt Wharf would be, we knew that we’d incorporate some of this historical character into our Camden, Maine restaurant.
Early in the construction process of Salt Wharf, the excavators salvaged old timbers that were likely old ship’s knees. Ship knees are structural components used in shipbuilding and traditional wooden boat construction. They reinforce the connection between different parts of a ship's framework, providing additional strength and support. . They help distribute the loads and stresses more evenly, improving the overall integrity and stability of the vessel. Knees help prevent flexing and bending in the ship's structure, ensuring it can withstand the forces encountered at sea, such as wave impacts and heavy winds. By adding rigidity and stiffness, ship knees enhance the overall structural integrity of the ship. They help distribute the load from the decks, masts, and rigging to the hull, preventing concentrated stress points and potential damage.
The term "knee" comes from its resemblance to a human knee joint. Ship knees are typically curved or angled components that connect the ship's frames, beams, and keel. They are usually installed diagonally or vertically and are secured with bolts or fasteners.
In addition to their functional role, ship knees are often seen as decorative elements that contribute to the aesthetics of traditional wooden boats. Their graceful curves and craftsmanship add to the visual appeal of the vessel. We saw it fitting to use these “knees” as part of the architectural details of Salt Wharf, functioning as the decorative yet structural pieces supporting our window canopies.
While ship knees were commonly used in traditional wooden boatbuilding, modern shipbuilding techniques often employ different materials and construction methods. Traditionally constructed from hackmatack, our knees were built by Lyman-Morse boatbuilders with modern construction techniques, using a lamination process with Douglas fir. Ship knees can still be found in the restoration or construction of classic and historical vessels, where traditional craftsmanship and authenticity are valued.
This little detail is what helps to define us, and make Salt Wharf a unique dining destination. Not only is the setting beautiful, but little pieces of history help keep it authentic to the Maine coast and the shipbuilding heritage of Camden.