Boats since the beginning of time have been built to float, or at least that’s the object, but Universal Studios (which of late does the unusual) has built a boat to sink. It sounds a bit odd, and frankly it looks a bit odd.

The boat of course is Orca, Quint’s (the shark killer) sea vehicle which gets sunk by a shark. Not wanting to sink the real Orca, of which the studio is extremely proud, a replica has been built. Before she was launched, real Orca’s hull was used as the plug to make a second hull of fiberglass. This has been cut off just below the waterline and now rests on a steel scaffold welded to her non-existent bottom. In the rack of the scaffold are rows of barrels, the theory being that the barrels can be filled with either compressed air or water, depending on whether Orca is sinking or unsinking.

Since the Island does not have a Sevens Institute tank for testing this sort of thing (and undoubtedly there are no records of tank-testing sinkings) all this is a hypothesis.

Orca is too tall for the shed she’s in, so she has been constructed in split levels. The hull is perfect down to the least detail and only remains to be dirtied up like the real Orca. There are even control panels with real instruments (their wires hanging), tachometers, depthfinders, compasses, the works and each one repeated on the flying bridge (which is not yet flying but lying at ground level.) Even the inside cabin shutters are duplicated from the real Orca to be sunk and sunk again, (it’s hoped they’ve thought of creosote).

The cockpit and cabin soles look just like the real Orca all beautifully made, except that the engine hatch has been made of balsa, to splinter when Orca’s engine explodes.

Four transoms are lined up against a wall, one is made of pine and probably will be used as the rear of the boat. The others are of balsa and will be used for three takes when the shark attacks Orca’s rear and sinks her.

On- and off-Islanders are still asking the question: “Are they still shooting Jaws?” The answer is yes. Right now filming has been going on aboard Orca out at sea, and shortly sinking-Orca will be tank-tested, or rather sink-tested. And if it doesn’t work right, a lot of people are going to have a sinking feeling. The creators of this are such fiends for accuracy and perfection there is bound to be an overabundance of reshooting.

There are all sorts of rumors flying about about the production, but what’s true is that the movie is being cut and edited on the Island, and therefore retakes are being made. One of the scenes retaken was a beach scene, and another was in Quint’s house in Menemsha which has been dismantled, making it awkward.

Regardless, there’s still a lot to be done, even if things go smoothly - which they won’t.