Saturday, May 17, 2014

Best Resource for Indigenous Boats Ever!

The title of this post is hyperbole in only the slightest degree, for Admiral A. Bertrand Paris's work Essai sur la Construction Navale des Peuples Extra-Europeéns (Essay on the Boatbuilding of Non-European People) is without doubt a superbly valuable resource for anyone seeking design and construction details of native watercraft from around the world at or around 1841. (Pity that it's in French.) 

Pointed out to me by Capt. Robert Whitehurst, Admiral Paris's book is available for download in numerous formats at the Internet Archive. The work is subtitled Collection des navires et pirogues construits par les habitants de l'Aise, de la Malaisie, du Grand Océan et de l'Amérique (Collection of ships and boats built by the inhabitants of Asia, Malaysia, the Great [i.e., Pacific] Ocean and the Americas). In spite of its length and apparent comprehensiveness, the subtitle omits Africa, which is also represented in the book.

Along with thousands of detailed, measured, engineering-style drawings and lines drawings, Paris includes hundreds of wonderful sketches of boats in use in their native habits -- wonderful as much for their artistry as for their detail and accuracy. Just to try to get you to go over to the Internet Archive to view (and hopefully, download) the entire book, I'll include a few representative images here.

Boom dhow from Admiral Paris
Sail, construction, and lines plans of dhows (click any image to enlarge) 
beached dhows by Adirmal Paris
Beached dhows 
inflated skin raft in Chile, Admiral Paris
A scene in Valparaiso, Chile, including (at right) an raft buoyed by inflated skins (presumably seal or sea lion)
Inflated skin raft, Chile, Admiral Paris
Detail drawing of the inflated skin raft in the previous image
Log boats, single- and double-outrigger canoes, umiaks, kayaks, bark boats, dhows, rafts...these are just a tiny sampling from a superb resource that has the power to hold the attention of any indigenous boats fans for hours. Do yourself a favor and check out the full document.

Capt. Whitehurst also kindly provided these links to biographical background on Admiral Paris:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What Moves Your Boat in Bangladesh

Reader Deek Rose steered me toward his video of boats in Bangladesh.

The footage in Always a River to Cross was shot in 1996 and 1998. The work's title obviously refers to the geography of Bangladesh, which is essentially a huge delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Getting anywhere in Bangladesh, especially during the wet season, usually involves water transport.

What struck me most about the video -- aside from the beauty of Rose's photography and the skill of his editing -- was the variety of propulsion methods used on traditional boat types. There are several types of oars, oar pivots, and styles of rowing; poling; paddling; spritsails of more than one type; stern sculling; inboard engines; and engine-powered towing.

There are also fascinating boat types to note and some footage of boatbuilding activities. Overall, a fine video. Thanks for sharing, Deek!