PDA

View Full Version : Boat knowledge needed for novel



bylinebree
05-02-2006, 02:15 AM
Hey there, calling all sailor and boating people!

I am refining my novel, adding details and revising stuff to make the world (it's a fantasy, sort of medieval) more plausible.

Here are my questions:

1. What kind of harness or yoke would work for a manatee-like mammal to pull a small boat on a fresh-water lake?

2. How to steer this kind of craft?

3. Would a design with high sides and up-curved prow and stern work, do you think?

4. What would you recommend for docking procedures and an emergency sail system should the creature be injured, wounded or weather not cooperate?

Thanks, all you water-experts! I have sailed a grand total of two times and absolutely loved it...but canoes are NOT my thing (they tend to go only in circles for me)

bylinebree
05-04-2006, 10:55 AM
:tongue OK, no responses yet! Is my question THAT weird? Are there no sailors that write, or writers that paddle? Is this an "oared" question? (yuk, yuk)

Jamesaritchie
05-04-2006, 07:28 PM
:tongue OK, no responses yet! Is my question THAT weird? Are there no sailors that write, or writers that paddle? Is this an "oared" question? (yuk, yuk)



I know some sailors, and I've done just a little while researching a story, but I don't know anyone who has rigged a mammal to power a boat. I suspect you'll look a long, long time for someone who has.

I haven't a clue, and don't even know why anyone would use an animal to do work easier done by wind or muscle or gasoline?

Stephen DeBock
05-07-2006, 12:03 AM
Can't help you with question #1. As for steering, you'd probably want a steering board (aka rudder) on the right side of the boat near the stern. (In the time of your novel, people would fear putting a hole through the boat for a rudder; instead, they'd hang it off the right side. "Steer board" became "starboard" in common usage. The left side of the boat is called the port side, because that was the side where you brought the boat to port. Docking it on the right side could damage the steer board.) Some boats are "double-enders," i.e., they have what looks like two pointy ends. The up-curved bow and stern would be complemented by a low midships. The modified U-shape is very graceful. The line from bow to stern is called a sweep. As for sailing in case of "manatee engine failure" or weather, probably have a mast stepped at the bow with a boom stretching toward the stern, in the manner of today's cat boat, which can be single-handed easily, I'm told. I'm no sailor, but I did live aboard a 42-foot trawler yacht for three years. Good luck with your novel.

bylinebree
05-07-2006, 03:59 AM
I know some sailors, and I've done just a little while researching a story, but I don't know anyone who has rigged a mammal to power a boat. I suspect you'll look a long, long time for someone who has.

I haven't a clue, and don't even know why anyone would use an animal to do work easier done by wind or muscle or gasoline?

Ok,first of all it's the pre-gasoline age here, early medieval setting. Secondly, the creature swims faster than paddling with oars. They use these creatures because it's a symbiotic relationship for both; the people get a reliable form of propulsion and the animals get cared for, and get to work in a useful way -- instead of just having them just for "pets", they "earn" their way. Since there can be no-wind days for sailing, the sails are a back-up.

It's a cultural thing in the fantasy kingdom, part of their way of life.

bylinebree
05-07-2006, 04:03 AM
Can't help you with question #1. As for steering, you'd probably want a steering board (aka rudder) on the right side of the boat near the stern. (In the time of your novel, people would fear putting a hole through the boat for a rudder; instead, they'd hang it off the right side. "Steer board" became "starboard" in common usage. The left side of the boat is called the port side, because that was the side where you brought the boat to port. Docking it on the right side could damage the steer board.) Some boats are "double-enders," i.e., they have what looks like two pointy ends. The up-curved bow and stern would be complemented by a low midships. The modified U-shape is very graceful. The line from bow to stern is called a sweep. As for sailing in case of "manatee engine failure" or weather, probably have a mast stepped at the bow with a boom stretching toward the stern, in the manner of today's cat boat, which can be single-handed easily, I'm told. I'm no sailor, but I did live aboard a 42-foot trawler yacht for three years. Good luck with your novel.

Those are cool facts about port, rudder, starboard, etc. The one time I went sailing, I LOVED it and want to go again--I was hanging on the rigging going, yee-haw!

I have somewhat high sides on the boats to protect the passengers (there are bench seats in the passenger models) and yes, the stern is higher sitting than the prow (both are curved upwards).

Thanks for the helpful coments.

Popeyesays
05-07-2006, 08:24 AM
1500 is quite early. The Spanish Armada battle took place in 1588. In 1500 there were very few non-Spanish ships in the Caribbean. Mexico was not siezed until the 1520's - no that's the Incas, Mexico comes later.

Remember that no European ship, as far as we know reached the Caribbean until 1492 and Columbus.

Piracy was rife in the North Atlantic and the Channel, the Bay of Biscay, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

European ships were mostly caravelles and Carracks. The Carrack being larger. The typical galleons weren't launched until twenty-five years or so later.

Only in the Mediterranean would you find the Xebec. It was two or three masted with lanteen rigging on all masts. This was a typical Mediterranean rigging and it was not up to Atlantic and Caribbean storms at all.

If you want a typical Caribbean pirate story starting before the 1580's won't work too well. It wasn't until almost 1600 that the first British Carribean colony was founded and it failed.

Regards,
Scott

Melisande
05-08-2006, 06:03 PM
Question 1. If this was an everyday thing, that the manatee was pulling the boat, I would suggest a harness not unlike the one you'd put on a horse.
Question 2. Again, if this animal was trained to pull the boat, one should be able to steer it the same way as a horse. Add a rudder for emergencies.
Question 3. My guess is that the design would work, if the boat is not too big.
Question 4. I light square sail, like the kind the vikings had should be quite sufficient for emergency. It is attached to one mast only. A mast that could be taken down when not needed. A couple of oars would also have to be stored in the boat. As for docking procedures, I would suggest a fairly long bridge, where the manatee-like creature could safely bring the boat to port, and where the owner could tend to his animal, just like a horse-owner would.

bylinebree
05-09-2006, 09:00 AM
Popeye, I think-maybe you meant to post on another thread (like one with a ton of historical need) -- but your comments are welcome, anyway.

The boats are part of a fantasy in an alternative history, roughly 900-1100 AD or so. The ocean's not involved. No army/navy. I'm not using any period stuff since it's a created world and only the rudimentary knowledge is needed to make it as believable as possible.

My job is to give enough realism to suspend disbelief, then 'hang 'em' out there for the whole tale as the yarn spins away into realms of fantasy. (hey, that could be a name for a whole series...couldn't it??)

Melisande, yes and yes. So good that all those things you mentioned, I have made a part of their boating world already. Thanks! :e2steer:

bylinebree
05-10-2006, 09:19 AM
Hoping you sailors are still checking out this thread -- anyone know how fast a non-mechanically propelled boat goes? Paddled fairly fast? In sailing?

And far can one sail or paddle, as in miles per hour? Or is it leagues per hour?

Here's a 'for instance': If a lake is fifty miles across, how long would it take to sail across it on a normal kind of day?

Yo-ho and thanks.

MadScientistMatt
05-10-2006, 03:32 PM
There's a big difference between paddling and rowing: Paddling uses paddles, and rowing uses oars. Paddles are entirely hand-held, and used for things like kayaks, canoes, and rafts. Oars pivot about oarlocks, and are found on rowboats nowadays but were used on larger craft too. A typical canoe or rowboat (not the racing rowboats) moves at about a walking pace; something like a Greek trireme or Viking longship is a bit faster.

With a sailboat, the old fashioned square sails can never get the boat going faster than the wind speed. A boat with triangular sails can go faster than the wind is blowing, though. See this page for how it's done.

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html

The example he uses can travel at around 20 mph. In a 12 mph wind.

Melisande
05-10-2006, 05:28 PM
I just would like to add to MadScientistMatt's excellent explanation, thet the square old-fashioned sail, Viking style, can be used on fairly flatbedded boats, while the triangular sails arrangement normally requires a boat with a keel, or it would "keel over".
Add rowing to the Viking style sail, and the boat will move a little faster, especially if multiple pairs of oars are used. That would be a very impractical and almost impossible thing to do, though, in a small boat, sinse there would be no room for that.
It also depends a bit on the general construction of the boat. How heavy it is, if it's streamlined or not, etc.
With the design you mentioned earlier, I picture something like a small longboat, maybe there would be room for two pairs of oars. With sail up and two pairs of oars and a mild breeze it would, just like MadScientistMatt says, still be a rather slow moving vessel. With higher wind, oars could not be used.
But I also think that during the era you mention, people had a different relation to time than we do today. They were normally not in a hurry, unless of course they had an urgent reason to.

bylinebree
05-12-2006, 04:40 PM
Matt: The "Physics of Sailing" website is great, though my understanding of the science is basic. I wondered how sailboats used the wind, for starters, and this helped me 'get it' -- vectors, indeed! Thanks.
Oars or Paddles? Good question - probably won't have to deal with that but it's a good background, world-building aspect to think about. As my canoe experiences have shown me, I'm awful at paddling; give me oars any day!

Melisande: So does a long boat have a keel? I've drawn rough sketches of the boats in my created world, and I don't think they have keels -- the hull is deep for what I thought would be stability and making room for passengers, but a keel is a sort of raised structure that sticks down from the bottom of the hull, right?

All this discussion is making this mountain-dwelling-landlubber long for the water again!
:e2steer:

Melisande
05-12-2006, 05:54 PM
No, longboats do not have keels.
Check out this link;

http://www.ict.oxon-lea.gov.uk/best_practice/vikings/index_main.html

The beauty of their design was that they could sail in shallow waters, which amongst other things, enabled them to sail up rivers and plunder.

MadScientistMatt
05-12-2006, 11:21 PM
You could probably build a longboat-like craft with a keel added. Modern sailboats often use short, stubby objects instead of a long keel - for example, see the centerboard in this picture:

http://www.yourdictionary.com/images/ahd/jpg/A4sailbt.jpg

Note how far it sticks down in proportion to the size of the boat. Some small sailboats have retractable centerboards, called daggerboards, but this really only works on a craft that can float even if there is a large hole in the hull to accomodate the daggerboard. I once attempted to sail a small boat barely larger than a windsurfer with a cracked daggerboard - not surprisingly, I capsized it the first time we had a big gust of wind.

A boat can be stable without a keel, but it would probably need two or more hulls if you tried to use a triangular sail without one. And even then, it would probably be harder to control than one with a keel.

Melisande
05-13-2006, 07:07 AM
Bylinebree,
I guess at the end of the day you don't wish to make this issue a major part of your plot.
MadScientistMatt is obviously a very accomplished sailor. I can only say that I agree with his scientific knowledge.
That said, however, I wish that you do not lose in your originality when it comes to idea, setting and timeframe.
You do not have to be correct at all counts. Let your imagination flow. I, for one, really like the idea of manatee-like creatures pulling boats, the interaction between man and animal, the lake you have described and the place in time that you presented.
Don't get too technical about this matter. As long as you have the general idea presented, the reader will believe what you tell him/her, because he/she wishes to.

Good luck with your story.

MadScientistMatt
05-13-2006, 02:20 PM
Heh. I've only taken a Sailing merit badge course in Boy Scouts, and as my previous posts show, that didn't go smoothly at all.

bylinebree
05-16-2006, 06:54 PM
Oh. The point of shallow water and keels is well-taken, especially if this is an island culture. Maybe they should have long-distance boats and short-distance boats, either pulled by their trained creatures?

Melisande (like that name), thanks for the nice comment about my idea of the creatures and boats. Don't worry, I'm not detailed enough to spend TOO much time on this, but there's always tons more background in the works than is on the page. I'm still learning the balance, as a new novelist.

More food for thought, as this forum always provides!

Matt -- sail on, bro' -- the info still was appreciated. Like I said, I can't even paddle a canoe well! But at least I don't get sea-sick (lick finger, one pt)

Melisande
05-16-2006, 07:38 PM
Oh. The point of shallow water and keels is well-taken, especially if this is an island culture. Maybe they should have long-distance boats and short-distance boats, either pulled by their trained creatures?

If the setting is an island culture, maybe it could be that each family had small boats of their own, and a bigger boat for the community for longer trips. But if the islands are in a lake, it would have to be a very big one to motivate them to build big boats.

I have lived in the archipelagos in the Baltic sea for many years, where everybody have to have small boats. In the older days they often had what was called "Churchboats", in which people joined together to go to church. (They didn't build churches on every island) These churchboats were larger, and had no sails. They looked like giant row-boats. They were often decorated. But they were not big enough for long distance sailing.

BlueTexas
05-19-2006, 07:51 AM
Oh. The point of shallow water and keels is well-taken, especially if this is an island culture. Maybe they should have long-distance boats and short-distance boats, either pulled by their trained creatures?


Shallow water and sailing - look at the design of an MC Scow (http://www.llsc.com/Photo_Album/folderview.asp?folder=MC). Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MC_Scow) has this to say.

The bottom is very flat (I'm not technical here, but my husband and I sail one) and we have sailed over sandbars - 8 or so inches of water - with no problem. It's a small boat, easy for one person, two max. Obviously there's no fiberglass in your story, but the design stands. The mast is detachable and can be put up by one person.

If we hit 10 knots my husband is ecstatic. On a larger sailboat - 40 feet or so - he's thrilled at 15 knots. I believe Scows are faster than regular small sailboats though - built for racing, so my numbers might be high on that one for your purpose.

I can take close-up photos if you need them - the boat is in our backyard.

bylinebree
05-20-2006, 06:38 AM
You're all just full of them (ideas) :)

Melisande, that's really interesting about the Baltic archipelagos - and my fantasy nation is a meld of that cultural area and a few others (would like to travel there sometime!) I hadn't thought of anyone but the royal family having their own boats/drivers, and even they do have the option to hire an independent transport like anyone else, if they want to.

The boats, the drivers thereof, and the creatures, form a sort of "guild" - like Venetian gondolas/gondoliers for hire, or maybe transporting via elephant -- you have to have a trained rider (can't think of the name). The creatures are owned by their drivers, who pass down this craft generation to generation and are highly trained; not just anyone can hook one of these babies up and "drive it," ha. The drivers kind of bond to their creatures when young, picking them out from a centralized breeding ground.

Yes, the lake is large -- to me, anyway. About 200 miles length and close to 100 in width.

BlueTex, I looked at your links - thanks. God, I'd love to try that! But the focus is not on the sailing, it's on the creature-driver thing, so the flat bottom design wouldn't work, I don't think. They have to dock at set harbors, so it does limit their flexibility but since they're a water-culture they also have a few one-man type sailing craft (used rarely).

Melisande
05-20-2006, 08:00 PM
I hadn't thought of anyone but the royal family having their own boats/drivers, and even they do have the option to hire an independent transport like anyone else, if they want to.

The boats, the drivers thereof, and the creatures, form a sort of "guild" - like Venetian gondolas/gondoliers for hire, or maybe transporting via elephant -- you have to have a trained rider (can't think of the name). The creatures are owned by their drivers, who pass down this craft generation to generation and are highly trained; not just anyone can hook one of these babies up and "drive it," ha. The drivers kind of bond to their creatures when young, picking them out from a centralized breeding ground.

It sounds to me that these creatures of yours will have to have rather a long lifespan. That's interesting.

In any island culture almost every family have at least one small boat of sorts to get by with every day life. It is a necessity, unless of course there are only a few very large islands in the lake. I like the idea of boats for hire though.

You really should try to go to the Archipelago's of the Baltic sea sometime. There are several, and they are all equally beautiful.