Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some interesting commentary...

I'm a huge fan of Google Books, and here's another example of why:

By Arthur B. Casmdy, Esq,. Member. (Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers)

By way of preface, the author refers to the New England dory, the New Bedford whaleboat, the Ranger boat for naval survey use in Central America, the racing cutter or barge, and the light steam or uaptha launch in common use on the coasts, as examples of highly successful craft for special uses. Navy boats have also been designed for their special purpose.

Requirements include: Strength to stand hard usage in rough water; stability under sail or oars: great carrying capacity, and weight as light as is consistent with necessary strength. Steam cutters must not only carry their own loads, but be capable of towing other heavily loaded boats. Aboard war vessels stowage space is limited, and the number of boats which can be carried also limited, so that the boats provided may be on occasions very heavily loaded with men, equipments and provisions—as in abandoning ship. Landing parties mean heavy loads, a probable pull through surf, and much banging upon the shore. In 1870 navy boats were classified according to size, but not form, and Chief Constructor Philip Hichborn has completed the standardization. In carrying out this scheme the best existing boats were selected and studied, also opinions invited from navigating officers who held different opinions about the rig. About 75 per cent favored the sliding gunter, and the others preferred the standing lug. The list of boats classified includes: Steam cutters, launches, cutters, barges, whaleboats, gig whaleboats and dinghies. Essential qualities of design for naval boats are: Safety, weight, comfort, and speed, in order. The author comments on each requirement, and gives much practical information concerning materials and methods of construction. In the matter of speed for steam cutters only a moderate rate is sought. In rough waters this ranges from eight knots for 40 ft. cutters to six knots for 28 ft. cutters. There are about a thousand boats in use in the Navy, and the average life is ten years.


Harry De B. Parsons asked what experience had been had with the folding boat in the U. S. Navy. This type was used extensively in foreign navies, and to some extent in the merchant marine.

W. P. Stephens, speaking from the point of view of the yachtsman, said the rigs of the boats seemed small, and it seemed as though the sail area might be somewhat increased to advantage, for the boats were used under sail. In yachting, in work similar to that performed by navy boats, cruising, the yawl rig had been found to be very efficient, with the main sail in the middle of the boat, a small mizzen mast, a short bowsprit and a jib. Bail could be reduced or shipped very readily. The yawl used in yachting could go under jib and mainsail effectively, or even under mainsail, while the navy boats seemed more or less schooner or sloop rigged. Yachtsmen, to get a large area of sail than small size of rig would allow, often adopted the Chinese plan of using several battens to extend the sail and thus get a larger area than would be given by the straight line from clew to peak.

Captain Jacob W. Miller inquired whether any thought had been given to the use of eonterboards In navy boats, so as to increase their sailing power to windward. In his experience with such boats as used by the Naval Militia, he found they were magnificent boats in a seaway and in every other respect, but it was impossible to work well to windward with them.

Colonel Edwin A. Stevens wanted to know whether the use of metal for small boats had been considered, also whether cypress plank had been used instead of white cedar.

Lieutenant W. P. White, U.S.N., called attention to the report of the board of naval boats, which appeared in No. 70 of the Proceedings of the Naval Institute. As to rig, he objected to the sliding gunter rig and cited the case of a boat very fast in pulling races, but slow under sail—sliding gunter rig—when working to windward; going before the wind she more than held her own. He quoted Captain Barker, U.S.N., as an authority who opposed the sliding gunter rig and advocated the lug rig.

W. P. Stephens said a very wide range of experience had been had in canoes and small yachts with sail of all kinds, and the difficulties met with were largely those which attend navy boats. "We want sail that will stow, and that will spread in an area and be generally effective," he said. "We began in canoeing with the low standing lug which Lieutenant White speaks of, but discarded that long ago; also the sliding gunter. A small sail which has found favor is a variation of the sliding gunter, where, instead of the top or gunter being fixed in two irons (as I believe it is in navy boats) to slide, it is fitted so that it can be detached from the mast. At the foot there is a law which goes against the mast and slides vertically, and at the top a sling—it can be dropped almost instantly. The boom can be easily detached and the entire rig stowed separate from the mast—a great advantage in stepping the mast. Mr. Herreshoff has introduced a sort of sprit rig, which is a very simple affair, and hoists with a single halyard, and as soon as the halyard is started the sail falls instantly. The old sliding gunter seems to be out of date." He then referred to small boats for yachts, to which very little attention had been given. The average yacht boat lacked displacement, had considerable rise of floor and of sheer, with a low waist, so that in the trough of the sea she rolled badly. There was room for much improvement in this direction.

Naval Constructor John G. Tawresey, U.S.N., replying in the absence of the author, said that though the Navy boats had been standardized, the work had not stopped, for, though the dimensions and form were fixed, the boats were being gradually improved. Navy boats were subject to very rough usage. Boats on board ship were usually carried close to the smoke-pipes, where there was great heat—the boats were built of wood. Hoisting took more out of the life of a boat than any other one thing. If scantlings were proportioned so that boats would not be strained in hoisting the boats would be enormously heavy. The blast of guns often seriously damaged boats. That Navy boats are held In high esteem by Navy men was shown by the orders sent in from the various auxiliary craft during the war for standard Navy boats. In response to the questions asked, he stated: Folding boats had been experimented upon in the Navy and reported on unfavorably. As to metal various metals had been tried and aluminum investigated. Some years ago iron and steel were used for steam launches and found to be unsatisfactory. The wooden boat was considered all around the best, but it should be recollected that the Navy boat was not put in the water in the spring and taken out in the fall, but was continually in and out of the water, and the bottom was always Accessible. In former times the outside of boats was coppered, but this was abandoned as unnecessary. As to the centerboard, this was simply a question of weight. A boat could be built strong with a centerboard, but that would increase the hoisting strains.

The Navy boat was not built as it sailing boat, but for all around use, and the constructors recognized that they could be built much better for sailing exclusively. He replied to the criticisms about rig by making a comparison with the case of a commanding officer of one of the single-screw U. S. corvettes, who complained officially that the boat did not sail as well as the famous ship Constellation. The present rig suited three men out of four, and it was not likely that a rig could be found which would satisfy the fourth man.

The Chair called upon Captain W. C. Wise, U.S.N., for an expression, and this officer briefly replied, expressing his preference for the French lug, which his experience had shown to be the best for safety, convenience, and period of lowering the sail and making sail, and also for carrying capacity.

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