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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Belizean Dugouts #2: Designs

Individual examples of even the simplest of types of watercraft can vary substantially from one another even when they are built within a limited geographic area for use in similar conditions. We discussed this recently in reference to coracles in the British Isles, and we found it to be equally true concerning dugout canoes in Belize. (See our previous post on our Belizean dugout "field work.")

Although many of Belizean dugouts we observed were in poor condition, they were all well designed and well crafted, revealing a sophisticated understanding of hull form and how it influences boat performance. Differences in hull form is the topic of this photo essay.

All the canoes below were photographed in the village of Hopkins, in the Stann Creek district, except one, which was found in Monkey River Town, in the Toledo district. The two are less than 40 miles apart as the crow flies.

First, we'll take a look at the forward sections.

Belize dugout canoe design details
This hull is narrow relative to its depth, with a nearly V-shaped bottom. As in many of the dugouts we saw, two strakes have been added to the dugout base to raise the sides. (Click any image to enlarge.)
Belize dugout canoe design details
Round-bottomed with fuller bilges.
Belize dugout canoe design details
Much broader relative to depth, with a somewhat V'd bottom and slacker bilges.
Now we'll compare entries:
Belize dugout canoe design details
Very lengthy, very hollow entry waterlines, from the bottom all the way to the deck.

Belize dugout canoe design details
Shorter entry and considerably less hollow: at the deck, the waterlines are nearly straight. 
Belize dugout canoe design details
Hollow entry from bottom to top, with very gentle waterlines and no appreciable shoulder.
Belize dugout canoe design details
Much shorter entry: i.e., the bow here does not narrow down to a stem-like extension as in the previous canoe. This is the Monkey River canoe.

Belize dugout canoe design details
Fairly straight waterlines near the top, angling back to shoulders set well back. Not very sleek, but there's a lot of buoyancy and carrying capacity in the bow.
Belize dugout canoe design details
Now a look at different stem profiles. This one transitions from has a slightly sharp transition from the keep to the stem, which curves almost to vertical at the top. 
Belize dugout canoe design details
The boat in the background has a soft transition between the bottom and stem, which is straight and angled for a good amount of overhand. The one in the foreground also has a soft bottom-to-stem transition, but the stem is curved, with less overhang. 
Sterns also exhibit a great range of shapes, with the presence of transom sterns and canoe sterns making the most significant difference.

Belize dugout canoe design details
Most of the canoes have a sharp transition between the bottom and the sternpost. In this case, the sternpost is nearly vertical, and the waterlines are quite hollow from bottom to top, but the sternpost is not extended far from the hull's shoulders.
Belize dugout canoe design details
Another sharp bottom-to-straight sternpost transition, but this one is angled more for greater overhang. The waterlines are much less hollow than the one above, and nearly straight near the top. The homemade gudgeons identify this as a sailing canoe. 
Belize dugout canoe design details
Only outboard-powered dugouts has transom sterns. The few we saw were all vertical, and they were all added to an open-backed hull, not carved integrally with the rest of the hull. The bottom sections on this one are a sharp V. This hull is also notable for its long, straight, parallel waterlines with little hull shaping amidships.  
Belize dugout canoe design details
This transom stern, in contrast, are hollow. It's a rather tall but nicely shaped wineglass stern.
Belize dugout canoe design details
In contrast to the dugout with the mounted outboard, this much shorter paddling dugout is much shapelier at the gunwale waterlines, being significantly convex nearly from stem to stern.
In our next installment in this series on Belizean dugouts, we'll look at construction details.

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