A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all of you for your votes and encouraging comments. I am honored by your appreciation of my work. For those of you that have asked or are interested, here are my "Helpful Hints." Hope they help you with your creations.
1. I actually used Debbie Browns instructions for her Sunken Treasure ship cake as my basis. This helped me a lot with the basics. If you have the book, its probably all youll need. If you really want to make the cake, its probably worth buying if you dont have it.
2. I used two 12 cake layers rather than the 10 suggested in the book. This gave me the additional cake I needed for the size I wanted. Because I wasnt sure how tall the finished ship would be, I made a styrofoam base about 2 high. This also helped me with the shape when carving. My overall dimensions was 15 ½ long by 7 ½ wide. It was shaped like a bullet or an iron pointed on one end and flat on the other. I also tapered the base to make it narrower at the bottom. (You probably wouldnt have to use this base, but I wanted a little bigger ship.)
3. I used the Styrofoam (after I wrapped it in press and seal wrap) base to carve my layers. I cut and pieced the cake together. You could probably use sheet cake pans if you dont want to piece as much. I used two layers for the main part of the ship and then used the leftover to build up the back and stairs. These were placed on the Styrofoam base. I also tapered the layers to continue the narrowing at the bottom. I used buttercream between layers and didnt use any boards or dowels and everything held together well. I then crumbcoated the whole ship in buttercream.
4. I used a combination of SatinIce Dark Chocolate fondant and my homemade fondant for the wood plank covering. I cut strips about 3/8 wide, no longer than 3-4 inches long. They were fairly thin, maybe 1/8. I then used a pointed tool, not sharp, to scratch in the wood grain. It was very simple. I then attached each plank with a simple sugar glue. I did this for both the wood on the outside of the ship and the wooden floors. For the floors, I lightened the fondant and cut the strips narrower and ran them the width of the ship.
5. For the railing, I rolled one inch logs of fondant, probably ¼ thick. I broke a toothpick in half and inserted the cut edge into log. I stuck logs into Styrofoam to dry. When dry, I placed along edge of ship by inserting pointed end of toothpick into cake. For the top railing, I used a mixture of black fondant and gumpaste and again cut long strips, added the grain, and laid over the top of the logs.
6. The sails were made of gumpaste that I cut into the shape and size I wanted and dried over the Wilton plastic flower former strips. I poked a small hole on the top and bottom of each sail before drying to insert the cookie stick masts. I made an edible image of the birthday boy and the words. The name of the ship was done with the SugarVeil system.
7. The board was covered in a marbled fondant and same fondant was used to cut waves. The sharks were made out of gumpaste.
Happy decorating. Be sure and send me pics of your creations
Thanks for writing all your knowledge and tricks down for the rest of us!
Thank you very much for taking the time to type these instructions. They're going to get me through my next "cake project"!