1. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Sailing a viking ship

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Lifeline, Oct 11, 2016.

    Just stumbled over a youtube video and thought I'd share. Not that I write about viking times, but maybe some of you.
    And.. if I can I'll make such a trip. Wish me luck in contacting these guys :)



     
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  2. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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  3. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    or if you prefer a celtic curragh accross the atlantic
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Research question for the nautically inclined:

    (please forgive total and utter lack of knowledge of the lingo)

    My science fantasy WIP contains a ship and a long voyage. This does not take place on Earth, so the ship itself does not need to be historically accurate because there is no historical meter against which to measure. What I'm looking to research is a ship that would be big enough for a long voyage, and that also serves as a fishing trawler, but not like a modern, motorized ship. Something old. Technology somewhere along the lines of 13th or 14 century. Not more modern than that.

    Is there some kind of vessel that you could recommend to serve as a foundation upon which to build the description of my ship?
     
  5. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    13-14 C western ships were pretty basic , in practice not much different to the viking ship caden posted above - knarrs and cogs and such, they did make long voyages - the vikings made it to america after all (all be it via greenland and iceland), however those ships were more often than not rowed by the crew or by slaves, as their rig was basic and they wouldnt go to windward worh a damn.

    if you move slightly later to the 15c you've got ships like the caravel and the carrack (aka the Nau) coming into use ( Vasco De Gama use a carack for his attempt to sail round the world, and columbus used several in his attempt to reach asia to the west and thus rediscovery of america)

    Of course your other option is eastern rigged ships - junks in essence that havent changed a great deal since they first appeared in the 2nd century

    you might find this site of interest http://www.thepirateking.com/ships/ship_types.htm

    (incidentally i only knoew about nautical/naval history - i don't sail)
     
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  6. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Now moose you make me real jealous ;)
     
  7. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    happy to be of service (incidentally ATW now features a nautical scene, although its in a knackered old trawler , and the team spend most of their time in a hold that stinks of fish and diesel fumes)
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    A caravel defo has the look I'm thinking of. Simpler than a carrack in rigging, big but not too big. Me likes, me does. ;)

    Now, the question is: Do I learn to sail a caravel for the sake of writing it, or do I plan how to talk around it. :-D
     
  9. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Hah! And when do I get to see it? *taps foot*
     
  10. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Wreybies , What your ship will look like depends on what it does.
    1. Warships, like the Viking longboat or ancient triremes et al, are long and slender, with a lot of people in them... The trireme carried 170 men, 85 on a side, I believe it was two on the upper oar in the bank, one on the lower (larger ones had a different mix), one extra lower oar. They carried sails for cruising and did not row if they could sail... 170 men in an unventilated space doing hard physical work on a hot day will go through a lot of water! But under oar, perhaps 10-15kts, maybe more. Rowers were not slaves, they were among the highest paid sailors in the Greek navy. There is a lot of skill in rowing, backing down, port "engine" ahead one third, starboard back one third. Herodotus described just such a maneuver at the battle of Salamis (by a female CO), who turned her ship around on its beam ends to face her pursuing opponent bows on after nipping behind a ship to hide her turn. An unskilled crew of slaves will just tangle or damage oars at the worst possible moment. These ships could not carry much food or water (one gallon water per man per day minimum), and cargo was out of the question. Length overall was 75-150 feet depending on number of oars, and beam about 1/5 or less.
    2. Cargo ships are beamy... the Romans called them basket ships, maximum volume for minimum surface area. These can be 75-250 feet, beam about 1/3 or 1/4. Speed I figure 4-6 knots, 100 to 120 miles per day. Smaller ones may have oars for maneuvering in and out of port, but bigger ones will use some kind of multi-oared rowboats, probably several, as tugs. The ship may carry these, or be provided by the port. The Vikings also had trading vessels and I suspect these were the ones that made the Atlantic crossing, for all the reasons above for warships. The longboats were raiders who could both cross the North Sea and then go deep upriver with their shallow draft.
    3. Catamarans: Google up Hokulea to see Polynesian cruising catamaran on her around the world trip. She is 67 ft long, twin hulled, two sails, displaces 12T and carries crew of 15 for long cruises @ 2500 miles, 40-50 for inter-island cruising, limited by water. And damned fast, as any cat is. I saw her sister ship in Hawaii last month, beautiful, and not a nail in her. These were built by a stone-age culture as the Polynesians had no metal until a few hundred years ago.

    As to square riggers, the Viking video gives you a good example of a square-rigger running close hauled with the sail parallel with the hull. They might handle something between 240-270 degrees of wind, +-45-60 degrees into the wind. Two big problems
    1. Need a keel to avoid slipping to much sideways, are heeling too far over in a quartering wind. The keel hydrodynamics acts in opposition to the sail to keep the ship at a constant angle, and resists sideways slippage.
    2. Rudder force can get high without the aft ketch or lateen rig aft sail. That sail acts as a trim tab, to keep the ship at a constant angle into the wind. Otherwise the rudder, really the helmsman, has to apply that force. That will limit the angle into the wind that the square rigger can sail.
     
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  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Lew , most of what you've said is relevant to your early post-AD WIP, not quite in line with @Wreybies ' question, but good stuff.

    Since the question was about a long voyage, the galley/longship is, realistically, out of the question, simply because of the supplies you'd need to carry.

    Another point I'd make is just how rough the weather was that these longships could handle. Harold Godwinsson famously got shipwrecked in Brittany in the summer, and the year of 1066 was littered with weather too bad for longships to sail. So, they probably weren't the ships the Norsemen used to discover America.

    All of which supports @Wreybies ' decision to use a caravel.

    As to learning to sail it, how important is it to include the actual sailing in the story? If you've read a fair bit of Hornblower et al, you can probably wing it (damn it, you could probably plagiarise a short section if all you want to do is tack the ship, or whatever manoeuvre you need). If you want to describe in detail the actual sequence of operations that need to be performed to anchor the ship, or manoeuvre to gain the weather-gage, you'll need to learn more; but, how much detail do you go into when describing how your MC drives his Ferrari Testa Rossa from home to the mall?
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    But if you've never driven a car before, or even taken a ride in one? You don't need to know how to build one, but I do think you need something of a notion of what it's like to be in a car, or to drive one, for your story to be authentic at all. Unless you skip out the journey entirely. And even then, you'll need to have a notion of how long it would take to get from A to B, and maybe other things about what was needed to take along for the journey, how these things might be obtained and carried.

    I'm a huge fan of doing way too much research. Everything you do learn can enrich your story, even if you don't actually use most of the details you've unearthed.

    I'm currently being frustrated by the lack of information about train travel in the northwestern USA in 1886. Info from a few years earlier or a few years later isn't much good, because the physical layout of trains changed rapidly during that time period AND the experience differed a lot depending on what part of the country the train was traveling through. I want to set a couple of scenes in the train, and need a notion of basic stuff like how the sleeping arrangements worked, what moving between cars was like (before the invention of the vestibule) etc. How the toilet arrangements worked. Were they always busy? Etc. Without this kind of research, my scenes will not only lack authority, but will probably be fairly bland. And yes, I've traveled on modern trains, to get a feel for the travel itself. Without these experiences, no matter how unlike they were so long ago, I would have had no notion whatever what the journey would feel like. It's totally different from a car journey, or a bus journey.

    So yes. It might be an idea for @Wreybies to do a bit of sailing, if he hasn't done. It certainly wouldn't hurt.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  13. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    You could just drop in a few terms like that it has the lateen rig (big triangular thing see the clip below) which enables it to go to windward much more effectively than the square rigged ships. @Lifeline is probably the one to ask about specific sailing things though - i'm a desk/armchair sailor as its a bad idea to get me wet (or feed me after midnight)

     
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  14. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    When i remember to pick the memory stick with it on up and bring it to work ... my medieval broadband at home isnt fast enough to cope with concepts like attaching files. I'll try to remember tommorow
     
  15. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would recommend Clive Custler. He wrote an excellent book (I don't remember the title) set on trains @1890-1900 that included such things as 0n-board telegraphs, scheduling etc. Sounds like just the research you need. Good story too.

    As to the latten rig above, something I learned in reading "Hawaiiki Rising" about Polynesian sailing is that the rigid boom on the leading edge is the key to improve into-the -wind performance: it prevents flutter, and keeps the air laminar over the sail, which in that configuration is actually acting as a wing, rather than a parachute or kite with a following wind.
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can't find any author named Clive Custler on Amazon. There is a Clive Cussler, who wrote umpteen adventure fiction books that seem to be laid at sea. Is this the guy you mean?
     
  17. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup!


    Has everything you need
     
  18. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    The novel is The Wrecker, by Clive Cussler. Has everything you need! The Isaac Bell series are set in the late 19th early 20th century. I guess he got tired of his standard genre
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  19. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I'd be cautious of taking too much of Cussler as the basis for fact - hes an okay writer but like most of us he makes stuff up
     
  20. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    incidentally this is reportedly the inside of a pullman lounge car in 1886 (pinterest)

    [​IMG]
     
  21. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry for the above off-topic posts... these are for @jannert
     
  24. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not exactly the experience of the average passenger...

    [​IMG]

    Even more not the experience of the average passenger was Queen Victoria's state carriage, built 1869. This is her sitting room; the train would have to be stopped for her to move to her bedroom - she didn't like those new-fangled gangways from coach to coach!


    [​IMG]

    And this, in all its Ikea glory, is QEII's bedroom on the royal train!
     

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