PDA

View Full Version : Do you know a lot about sailboats and ships? A vocab question.



rosehips
07-05-2019, 06:30 PM
I'm writing a fantasy novel. 18th century-esque. The ships are unusually ornate, all carved with flowers and painted along the upper part of the hull. I could just say "upper part of the hull" but I'm a stickler for details. Google is making me think that the term I'm looking for is "rail filler." Does that mean anything to you?

I may have more questions to come...

Thanks in advance!

waylander
07-05-2019, 06:48 PM
Taffrail? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taffrail

rosehips
07-05-2019, 06:52 PM
Ugh. Okay, I'm getting a little lost as I try to read about ships. I want to choose one to model my fantasy ship on, so maybe someone here can help me make a good choice. This is a smaller-sized ship that has for its main purpose to transport passengers and some cargo. It's not a military ship, though it might have some defenses due to the presence of pirates as a threat.

It would only have about a dozen passengers, and maybe the captain makes the bulk of his money transporting cargo and just take passengers as a bonus.

Am I looking at a sloop? Something else?

Thanks.

rosehips
07-05-2019, 06:56 PM
Taffrail? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taffrail

Hi waylander, thanks for answering.

I'm thinking of the part on this ship that's green and white:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/68/Gda%C5%84sk_-_Galeon_Lew_%28rufa%29.jpg/800px-Gda%C5%84sk_-_Galeon_Lew_%28rufa%29.jpg
(image by Piotr Marynowski on wiki commons)

lonestarlibrarian
07-05-2019, 07:32 PM
A sloop is more... 19th century, perhaps? It's a sailboat with a single mast. Sloops are still used, and look very different from historical sloops--- so you might think of a ship silhouette that doesn't have a modern equivalent?

If you do a GIS for carracks and caravels, would that be kinda-sorta the shape you're looking at?

Even though they were used in a ships-of-war capacity, they could also be chartered for merchant purposes.

--edit--

re: the terminology, it looks like it either might be gunwales or bulwarks.

There's a thesis I wanted to check over ("The Evolution of Decorative Work (http://nautarch.tamu.edu/Theses/pdf-files/Steere-MA2004.pdf) on English Men-of-War from the 16th-19th Centuries") but I'm having trouble getting it to load.

Gunwales in historical ships are "The elevated side edges of a boat which strengthen its structure and act as a railing around the gun deck. In warships the gunwale has openings where heavy arms or guns are positioned" and bulwarks are sometimes treated as a synonym (https://books.google.com/books?id=221D5veUwZAC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false), and sometimes treated (http://www.shipmodeling.ca/aa10077.html) as the part "beneath the gunwales (https://i2.wp.com/suburbanshipmodeler.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/bulwarks.png)".

Marissa D
07-05-2019, 09:02 PM
When you say passengers and cargo...how much cargo? How far is the ship's usual route? Are we talking a day's journey, or will you need overnight accommodations for those passengers? What are local conditions like? Does it tend to be stormy and rough, or generally tranquil? Are the waters on the shallow, shoal-y side like around Cape Cod or the Outer Banks, or fairly deep? All these factors will help dictate the type of ship you need.

rosehips
07-05-2019, 10:24 PM
Thanks for the clarifying questions!


When you say passengers and cargo...how much cargo?

It doesn't have to be a lot, I'm just trying to imagine what the captain of the ship makes money on, passengers or cargo. Also, the ship's going to be attacked by pirates so I'm thinking the emphasis for the ship is the cargo, so there's probably more cargo/more valuable cargo than there are passengers.


How far is the ship's usual route? Are we talking a day's journey, or will you need overnight accommodations for those passengers?

The ship is going to go to several locations, actually, ranging in climates from very cold to temperate and maybe even more hot arid. Think Scandinavia down around the Iberian peninsula. So there do need to be sleeping quarters. The ship doesn't have to be 100% realistic (though I do want it to be at least 80% realistic).

It could have some individual cabins, maybe. My characters aren't hurting for money, either, so they could pay for expensive accommodations.


What are local conditions like? Does it tend to be stormy and rough, or generally tranquil?

There are storms, and there will be a rather bad storm at one point. There are also pirates and various sea monsters.


Are the waters on the shallow, shoal-y side like around Cape Cod or the Outer Banks, or fairly deep? All these factors will help dictate the type of ship you need.

They are deep for the most part, except, obviously, right on the coasts of certain places. But the trip is in deep water.

Thanks again!

lonestarlibrarian
07-05-2019, 10:49 PM
Historical ships often would carry a handful of paying passengers who wanted to get from Point A to Point B, but it wasn't very comfortable-- they were pretty much treated like cargo, and were stored like cargo. :)

The captain would normally sleep in his cabin. His quarters were normally in the stern. When I toured an 1877 tall ship, if I remember correctly, I think one or two of his highest officers also had some space back there. I don't know if this is the case for older ships. The crew were usually housed in the forecastle (foc's'le).

The storage decks where paying passengers would be put were usually low-ceilinged (because crates and barrels aren't very tall) and had poor ventilation (you didn't want water getting into storage).

So if, as you're saying, your passengers are able to pay good money for additional comfort-- and if the ship is in the habit of shuttling affluent passengers frequently enough to make it worthwhile to give up the space-- then you're certainly not bound to give them a miserable experience. :P But if you've ever toured a replica historic ship--- it gives you a lot of respect for the people who made those journeys in crowded, uncomfortable, uncertain conditions, simply because there weren't any alternative options for going from Point A to Point B.

waylander
07-05-2019, 11:57 PM
Hi waylander, thanks for answering.

I'm thinking of the part on this ship that's green and white:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/68/Gda%C5%84sk_-_Galeon_Lew_%28rufa%29.jpg/800px-Gda%C5%84sk_-_Galeon_Lew_%28rufa%29.jpg
(image by Piotr Marynowski on wiki commons)

Looking at the description from wikipedia, I think you could call that area the taffrail

rosehips
07-06-2019, 12:52 PM
Okay, more vocab. Does this passage make sense:

“What’s Location like?” I asked Aaron as we took seats at the prow of the ship. Catie and Mike sat together on a bench on the front side of the fife rail and Aaron and I took a bench at the headrail of the starboard bow.


ETA: I realize having benches on the bow is probably weird but I'm going to claim artistic license for that aspect. I'm just wondering if it makes sense in terms of the rails and directions. Thank you all again.

talktidy
07-06-2019, 02:13 PM
It's more 19th century, rather than 18th, and RN vessels, rather than civilian craft - although they do crop up occasionally -- but for a sense of life at sea in the age of sail, you might consider reading C S Forrester for his Horatio Hornblower series and Patrick O'Brien for his Aubrey/Maturin books. Both writers possess the skills to thoroughly immerse you in shipboard life.

PorterStarrByrd
07-06-2019, 04:27 PM
You might find a lot of help by searching google images and see what interests you as to ship type.

start with "sailing ship" then refine your search based on what you see written about what you choose.

googles "Naval terminology" (not in images) for a lot more help.

Lastly google "model ship building clubs" where you can find some expert help from scale model builders.

PorterStarrByrd
07-06-2019, 04:30 PM
BTW a ship the size of what you describe would not have a very ornate stern and would have no more than two verticle masts, most likely one since the crew has to tend to the sails during sailing.

PorterStarrByrd
07-06-2019, 04:35 PM
Okay, more vocab. Does this passage make sense:

“What’s Location like?” I asked Aaron as we took seats at the prow of the ship. Catie and Mike sat together on a bench on the front side of the fife rail and Aaron and I took a bench at the headrail of the starboard bow.


ETA: I realize having benches on the bow is probably weird but I'm going to claim artistic license for that aspect. I'm just wondering if it makes sense in terms of the rails and directions. Thank you all again.

probably too much nautical description becoming tell rather than show (Benches in the bow may not last long during a storm. They would more likely sit on the anchor capstan which would be a lot like a seat in that size of ship)

Marissa D
07-06-2019, 04:35 PM
Google images for "schooner" and see if that works--it's sort of a quintessential 18th century ship used for passengers and cargo.

The passage doesn't make sense to me--the bow of a ship is a busy place what with sails and the anchor, and benches would be in the way. But that doesn't mean they might not be seated on bales of cargo dumped there (temporarily or not.)

mrsmig
07-06-2019, 04:35 PM
Okay, more vocab. Does this passage make sense:

“What’s Location like?” I asked Aaron as we took seats at the prow of the ship. Catie and Mike sat together on a bench on the front side of the fife rail and Aaron and I took a bench at the headrail of the starboard bow.


ETA: I realize having benches on the bow is probably weird but I'm going to claim artistic license for that aspect. I'm just wondering if it makes sense in terms of the rails and directions. Thank you all again.

Having benches at all on this kind of craft would be a bit weird. They're going to be very much in the way of the crew going about the business of sailing the ship (plus real estate on the deck of a small ship is limited).

If you need your characters on deck, they'd probably be leaning on the rail but ready to move elsewhere if they're impeding the crew.

PorterStarrByrd
07-06-2019, 04:37 PM
BTW "front side of the rail" is "inboard"

jclarkdawe
07-06-2019, 11:09 PM
Starting point for a sailing ship is figuring out what direction the wind is blowing most of the time and how does this compare to the ship's direction. A square-rigged ship does best sailing from 90 to 270 degrees off the wind, or with the wind blowing over the stern. The closer the square-rigged ship can sail to 180 degrees off the wind, or dead downwind, the better it would perform. An example of square-rigged ships showing how extreme this design could go are the British tea clippers.

The tea ships sailed downwind from England with trade goods to India, where the trade goods were sold and opium was purchased, then continuing downwind to China, where the opium was sold for tea. After which the clippers sailed to England with the tea, striving to be the first ship to reach London in the season. By maximizing the performance of the ship to the route, and realizing that distance sailed fast can be a shorter time period than less distance sailed slowly, builders could optimize the design.

A lesser version of a square-rigged ship that meets your design criteria would be a brig. But this design would be used when a ship can sail downwind. For the Atlantic trade between Europe and the United States, a ship would sail south heading to the US, dipping down towards the Equator, to take advantage of the Trade Winds, which blow East to West. Going back to Europe, the ships would sail much further north, taking advantage of the Westerlies. These winds blow from West to East. Notice that sailing ships rarely used Great Circle routes like steam ships.

Now if you were sailing more into the wind, on courses from 45 degrees to 90 degrees and 270 degrees to 315 degrees to the wind, you'd want more of a fore and aft rig. Along the Atlantic coast of the US, schooners made up the bulk of this trade and are the fore and aft rig for a ship the same approximate size as a brig.

Sailboats do not sail between 315 degrees and 45 degrees to the wind. They have to use tacks to cover the distance.

Nearly all sailing ships carried some level of cannons. Privacy was and still is a concern for ships.

The gunnels, bowsprit, and stern are the main areas of decoration. Earlier ships tended to have a higher poop deck which does not help sailing ability, but does offer more room. Decoration was a function of both time period and culture.

A good book about sailing is Richard Dana's TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST. Dana, after this experience, became an attorney, but wrote a very articulate account of what life was like as a crewman on a sailing ship.

Jim Clark-Dawe