Question on 18th century schooners

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by boatnewbie, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. boatnewbie
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    boatnewbie New Member

    I don't know if there are many here who know the history of sailing, but I had a question about 18th century schooners for some fiction I am writing.

    Specifically, how does the rudder on 18th century schooners work? Was it a combination of ropes and wood? Are there any pictures or diagrams anyone can point me to?
     
  2. Robert Gainer
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    Robert Gainer Designer/Builder

    Different size boats had different systems. It also matters what country and style of boat you are interested in using in the story. There are many books that cover the histories of design and construction but you need to describe the boat a little better before anyone can make a recommendation.
    Robert Gainer
     
  3. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Most still had a tiller connected to the rudder.

    The built metal steering gears still too rare and expensive for working folk.

    The tiller was usually rather short and VERY robust.

    The tiller was usually connected with a 2 or 4 part tackle to the drum on the wheel.

    It was seamless , eg it steared lwith the wheel like a modern boat ,,,

    BUT the way they hooked it up is BACKWARDS from what we would call "automobile" steering today .

    In other words it steered like a TILLER when responding to wind shifts .

    Mustic Seaport in Mystic CT will be able to provide drawings , at a slight cost.

    FAST FRED
     
  4. Robert Gainer
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    Robert Gainer Designer/Builder

    Not so fast, Fast Fred, Sorry I just had to do that. The pilot schooners very often had just a long tiller; an example would be the America. If the schooner used a wheel then the wheel might be mounted on the tiller itself such as the C.W. Morgan in Mystic. I know that’s not a schooner rig but it’s a convenient example. The wheel was an expensive complication, popular only in America and could be mounted on the deck with the lines crossed or straight to the tiller. In a small boat, you might see a yoke and lines or tiller stick to the yoke, which is of course on the very small boats. A wipstaff, might predate the time of interest but it made an interesting steering system. The worm gear with wheel mounted above the rudder shaft goes back; I wonder how old that system is?

    The National Maritime Museum and Mystic Seaport are excellent sources along with The Hart collection in Boston. .
    Robert Gainer
     
  5. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    "but I had a question about 18th century schooners for some fiction I am writing."


    The Morgan is too new by about 100+ years, 18 century is what we call 1700 to 1799.

    FAST FRED
     
  6. Robert Gainer
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    Robert Gainer Designer/Builder

    Fast Fred said,
    “The Morgan is too new by about 100+ years, 18 century is what we call 1700 to 1799.”

    I agree with you that it was a poor choice to include the C.W. Morgan in my comments about steering gear. Not so much because of the time period but because her type of wheel was somewhat unusual and I do not in fact know if it was used on any schooners.

    The construction of the Charles W. Morgan started in October of 1840 and did not represent anything new or unusual in design. She is a good example of ship design and construction in the late seventeen hundreds because of the slow rate of change.

    Not many ships from the 18th century survived and you need to take advantage of any examples that you can find that do represent the time period. However, you are right Fast Fred; she is from the 19th century and is 40 years late in date.
    Robert Gainer
     
  7. SeaDrive
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    SeaDrive Senior Member

    Check out Colin Mudie's book Sailing Ships, and some of Chapelle's books, e.g. The Search for Speed Under Sail.

    Without doing any research, I'm a little wary of the notion of an 18th century schooner. The common coastal trading vessel thru 1800 was called a sloop, and had one mast with a square sail as well as fore/aft rigging, including a bowsprit of formidable length.
     

  8. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Sloop's of the period under discussion were normally small vessels with fixed bowsprit and normally ship rigged (check out 'af chapman') what you are discribing is a cutter which had a reeving bowsprit - the long one being normally for government vessels (particularly revenue cutters). but twas more a hull shape than a rig one I believe. go check the history books, tis a complecated process, not for the likes of simple sailors
     
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