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Discussing: Ships, harbors, and boats

Ships, harbors, and boats

I am ignorant about this topic, and have some questions. I hope someone out there is more knowledgeable.

In the Havens of Sirion, as a port town, how many ships might be present at any time? Would a large fleet be present only when back from a journey? Would many ships be expected all the time? Would a fishing fleet be likely?

Would a small boat for shore use be able to make it to Balar, about 100 miles away according to the 'Atlas of Middle-earth'? How long might it take (I realize it varies with wind and sea conditions) for a boat to get to Balar? How about a ship?

Thanks for anyone with information.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

I once worked in the Hobie Cat factory, San Juan Capistrano. CA. Working there, I learned that Hobie Alter, company founder and former world surfing champion, once sailed a 16' (5M) catamaran from Hawaii to California, solo. That is about 3,000 Mi, (5,000 Km). Moral of the story, it's the size of the sailor, not the boat. Captian Bligh was put overboard in a dingy, and sailed it 1,800 miles to a life saving station in the South Pacific.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

I missed the other question. An amazing fact. The maximum speed of a conventional sailboat (in Knots) will be aproximately the square root of its waterline in feet. 9/10ths that speed is more likely what you will really get.

1 knot is about 1.15 mph or 1.85 Kmh. If it is a cross wind or a trailing wind, the boat will be able to sail in a straight line. A headwind will require the boat to tack,(Zig zag into the wind.) which will increase the distance by about 30%.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

> A headwind will require the boat to tack

I would guess that the prevailing winds in the northern hemisphere of ME are westerlies (just as they are in our world), so headwinds are likely.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Thanks, Mike and Forodwaith.

Any thoughts on harbors and the number of boats/ships therein? i gather Sirion was a relatively small community. Once Vingilot had sailed, would it be likely others were in harbor?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

> Any thoughts on harbors and the number of boats/ships therein?

This is a situation where you can write pretty much whatever you want, based on the needs of your story.

Some of the background influences might be things like:
- is Sirion a trading port or a fishing one? Fishing centres mean lots & lots of smaller boats, each probably crewed by 1-20. How long the boats are out for depends on the kind of fishing they do; can be a day at a time if the fishing grounds are near, or weeks/months if they're far away. Trading centres mean fleets of larger ships, but probably fewer ships in port at any one time. Ships going on long trading voyages in the past usually sailed in convoy for safety. So you might have ten ships in harbor one day and none the next.
- what are the ships built of? where are the closest stands of timber? If suitable wood is nearby and plentiful, then boats will be cheaper. If not, they'll be much more expensive and fewer.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Ok more questions for one of the knowledgeable ones out there:

If someone was sailing one of those small ships like the 16 foot catamaran Mike mentioned, could another boat or ship tow it in to shore once it got close?
Since I imagine the answer is yes, could that be another small boat?
Could it be done by a simple rowboat?
Alternately, could one tie the rowboat off to the catamaran, and sail the cat in, towing the rowboat? Or would it be more likely to tie a line to the cat, and have someone reel it in to shore?

And for that 3000 mile trip you mentioned, Mike, how did he ensure an adequate water supply?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

A catamaran has no keelboard, so it could be sailed right up onto shore if there was a beach. Any small sailboat can be sailed right up to a dock with a bit of skill. It can also be manuvered with a canoe paddle, so if it was congested, you could drop the sail and paddle it the last bit. Most small saiboats are really just rowboats with a mast and removable centerboard. You can always tow a small boat with a sailboat, but a very small sailboat will be slowed quite a bit.

A 16' HobieCat has a large "trampoline" in the center. He lashed a number of large beer coolers to it to carry food and water. He also let a 200' (60M) rope trail behind the boat so if he fell overboard, he could swim to the rope and grab it before the boat sailed away from him. Catamarans are very fast compared to a regular sailboat. If I recall the story, it only took him a week or 10 days. He was also an expert at sailing this craft and was a highly conditioned athelete. Most of us would perish in such a stunt.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

A catamaran has no keelboard, so it could be sailed right up onto shore if there was a beach. Any small sailboat can be sailed right up to a dock with a bit of skill. It can also be manuvered with a canoe paddle, so if it was congested, you could drop the sail and paddle it the last bit. Most small saiboats are really just rowboats with a mast and removable centerboard. You can always tow a small boat with a sailboat, but a very small sailboat will be slowed quite a bit.

If the small sailboat in question had an incapacitated sailor, what would another person skilled with boats do? Swim out, and sail the boat back; row out from shore and tow it? Would it take many people to do so? Is the scenario completely absurd?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

You could do it several ways. You could row out alone, tie the rowboat to the stern of the sailboat and sail back towing the rowboat, or you could tow the sailboat with the row boat, but that would be a lot more work. You could also get someone else to row out with you and drop you off. It would be hard to transfer an incapacitated person from one small boat to another without several people. I would not attempt it. I would row out and sail back, towing the rowboat. I would take help if I could find someone to go with me.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Whoo-hoo, I need this discussion.

Okay, simple enough question, for someone who knows more about ships than I do (which would probably be anyone besides myself).

If a ship were going to be built to accommodate two separate masts, the keel would likewise need to be longer in order for there to be enough room on the deck for both rigs, correct? This seems logical to me, but I just wanted to be sure. Does anyone know of a general rule of distance from one mast to another? I assume a smaller ship (thus one with a shorter keel) would only have enough room on deck for one rig, and if the shipbuilder wanted two masts, he'd need to design a longer vessel. Am I right? (Now that I think about it, would the size of the sails make a difference in this case as well?)

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

I've sailed, but I don't know much about designing sailing rigs, so you can take my answers with a grain of salt or two.

If a ship were going to be built to accommodate two separate masts, the keel would likewise need to be longer in order for there to be enough room on the deck for both rigs, correct?
Yes. How much longer depends on the height of the masts and the volume of sail they're carrying.

Does anyone know of a general rule of distance from one mast to another?
I don't, although there might be such a rule of thumb for ship designers. Your last theory is correct: the deciding factor would be the sail configuration used. Sloop rigging takes up more (fore and aft) space than square rigging.

This page shows several different kinds of rigs, and gives you a sense of the variety out there:
http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mma/AtoZ/rigs.html

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Thanks, Forodwaith!

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

I think you are getting it backwards. People design a ship big enough to carry a given payload and crew, and then put as much sail on it as will fit. There is a technical limit on how tall you could make a single mast, involving such things as the strength and weight of the mast, it's mounting to the hull, the difficulty of handling huge sails and not having the ship tip over in a wind. If the boat gets big enough, it becomes a better design solution to have several shorter masts.

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Perhaps someone here can help me with the terminology... I'm both a non-sailor (I love sailing, but rarely have the opportunity) and not a native speaker of english.

If you have a fore and aft rigged sailship, there is a moment that the sail will have to come overhead. In Dutch this is called 'overstag gaan', and I understood from my dictoinary that it would be called 'tack'.

So can I say 'the sail tacked', or is 'tacking' something you do with the entire ship - to zig-zag into the wind, as Mike put it? And if so, how do I best call the moment that one has to duck to avoid getting clipped alongside the head by the sail?

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

All I know about the phrase 'tacking' is that it's in the title of an episode of Deep Space Nine (called Tacking Into the Wind), but I did find this webpage which might answer some of your questions:

http://sailing.about.com/library/weekly/aa070500a.htm

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Tacking is what the whole ship does when it goes in the zig-zag motion.

how do I best call the moment that one has to duck to avoid getting clipped alongside the head by the sail?

That's called "coming about" when it's done on purpose and in a controlled fashion. When it happens suddenly, or by accident (i.e. from sailing too close into the wind), you say the ship "jibed."

"Ware the boom!" Legolas cried. "We're coming about!"

"Sailing is no way for a civilized dwarf to travel," Gimli grumbled. "Why must we tack back and forth all the way to Minas Tirith? I never thought to hear myself say this, but riding would be better."

 

 

Re: Ships, harbors, and boats

Thank you, that is most helpful. (especially the bit of dialogue, helps me work out how to use these words..)

Altariel, thank you for that great link. I feel much more confident about writing this thing now, though the story shall probably require a good read-through for sailing-errors when it's done :-)

 

 

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