Traditional boat definition

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Guillermo, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Following this way of thinking, may we say the term 'heritage' applied to boats is rather related with 'culture' while 'traditional' is rather related with 'ethnics'?

    To clarify concepts: We can consider Gypsy Moth VI as an heritage boat, but not a traditional one.
     
  2. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Traditional boat design

    Gosh Guillermo - but you've opened a fascinating can of thingies here.
    The terms 'heritage' and 'traditional' obviously mean different things to different parties.
    My own view is that 'heritage' are designs and builds which are 'worth keeping' for their beauty and style. But traditional, to me, means a craft which has evolved from generations of practical experience to suit specific conditions, purposes, and available materials for building.
    Wooden boats of course fit the latter category. But I do not object to the addition of later 'improvements' - sails for oars; engines for sails.
    Do we discount the old sailing wherries and barges because an engine proved more convenient to carrry freight in slack winds - when a schedule had to be met. But these two examples - being reasonably modern - I'd class as heritage rather than traditional.
    And Guillermo, I'm afraid I can add little to the gabbart - except to say she as originally a lighter - slightly larger and more graceful than the Port Said 'bum-boat'. Originally under oars, later under sail, and finally under steam/diesel.
    Final word, my friend. Try not to get too cluttered with the advice and opinions (though all worthy) offered in this thread. Go to the conference and give them the benefit of your own thoughts on the matter, and few will argue.
     
  3. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    I'll do that, Max. We always do, don't we? :)

    More for the thinking: May we introduce the term 'Classic' also into the debate?

    May we use 'Classic' as a term to define more modern vessels, inspired in or derived from traditional ones (so with some ethnic considerations, too), but independent of their construction techniques/developments?

    If so, we'd have three categories: Traditional (ethnics based), Classic (more or less traditional inspired?) and Heritage (deserving to be saved, historical) vessels.

    Still many fields to explore (precise definitions missing). How fantastic!


    P.S. We shouldn't consider Classic boats as closely and inmediately related to traditional ones, as they can be very far away after decades of development. Let's think of a Riva, definitely a classic, but little resembling a traditional boat.
     
  4. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    From the Memorandum of Understanding of Traditional Ships (Attached):

    Definition:
    For the purposes of the present Memorandum of Understanding, “traditional ships” can be all kinds of historical ships and their replicas including those designed to encourage and promote traditional skills and seamanship, that together serve as living cultural monuments, operated according to traditional principles of seamanship and technique, and holding the national certificates listed in Annex I.
     

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  5. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Traditional boat design

    But, Guillermo - it's typical of Raggi to 'muddy' the waters with his 'Sea Stallion' billed as the world's biggest and most ambitious Viking ship reconstruction. A longship modeled after a warship excavated from the Roskilde fjord after being buried in the seabed for nearly 950 years.

    She is designed to carry a 'crew' of 65 volunteers, and using replicas of Viking era tools — chisels, knives, spoon bits and axes — craftsmen built the 8.25-ton Sea Stallion using 5,250 cubic feet of oak and 7,000 hand-forged iron rivets.

    "Within a certain framework, we knew how they built the ship and how the missing parts should be," said Erik Andersen, 68, who designed the replica. "The only guesswork was the color of the ship and the sail."

    In 'Sea Stallion' I suggest we have the 'traditional, the classic, and the heritage' ship all in one. :(
     
  6. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Yes, for sure. But you have not to be sad; that's not a contardiction. It's OK. In fact, being traditional you gather all three categories in one. But a classic may be not traditional, nor heritage. And a given Pogo 40 may become heritage someday, who knows, without being a classic nor a traditional boat.
     
  7. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    Ahem ... moving back to the original thread subject (although Poida's suggestion is far more interesting :) ) ...

    "Classic", as I understand the term, can have at least 2 meanings, although they are similar. First, something not going back many generations, but not new either; a design in the early stages of being valued for its beauty and/or functionality in comparison to more modern designs. Second, something recognized universally, or generally, as representing the best elements of its type. For example, not all traditional boats are classics, but there are a few designs which have long been celebrated for their beauty, grace, or simplicity.

    Sorry, Guillermo, but I think your separation of culture and ethnicity in the heritage vs traditional statement is arbitrary. I know you posed it as a question, so my answer is no. Interestingly, several dictionaries define "heritage" as concepts and practices handed down from ancestors "by tradition". The same sources define "tradition" as "the passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication". I agree that the terms are interrelated and not easily separated.

    Your original question of technical characterization of a traditional boat incorporates all of these diverse elements. Possibly you might want to distinguish between traditional boats and traditional designs. Our friends here have mentioned several times that traditional boats are characterized by design and construction elements which have evolved over time as best meeting the needs for which the boat is used. Traditional designs may be used to construct a boat with modern materials; here the boat itself is not traditional but the design is. Modern material renderings of traditional designs are done because the traditional skills or materials are not available or are prohibitively expensive, because modern materials have proven stronger, more durable, or require less maintenance, or simply because someone wants a modern boat with "classic lines".

    Confusing? I think so, because boat design is often art as much as science.

    Guilermo, you are a man with knowledge of, and love for (passion for, even?), traditional boats. As at least part of your talk, why don't you show some illustrations of traditional designs that you think are worthy of mention. That, I guarantee, will deeply affect some in the audience, and leave them with the feeling that at least one of the speakers was entertaining. :)
     
  8. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Thanks for your post, Charlie. It deserves a proper answer. In a hurry now, I'll do this tonight.
    Best.
     
  9. Raggi_Thor
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    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

    Classic and traditional is different, of course.
    We have classic cars, but not traditional cars, yet?
    Then traditional is a relative term, I think.
    For example, the faerings and nordlandsbåt used to (traditionally) be made with a hollow garboard, that is really hollow, a hollow plank, made by adse or a hollow plane. That is a lot of work, so sometime (I guess 1890) they started to build the boats with regular sawn strakes, also in the garboard. It's a small development, but the boat is still traditional.
    So how much development can we allow and still call it traditional? These boats changed the rig from square sail to gaff, then they had small engines installed, but's it's the same hull. In the 1950s(?) the hull shape changed radically, much higher cp to suit more powerful engines and carry more load. It's still clenched and with sawn frames (more of them now), but I think this is a new tradition, or a modern boat.
     

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  10. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Traditional is or has evolved from way back to suit local conditions and materials. Also it would suit the use required for the boat! The ancients did not use nylon rope because they did not have it! If they did I'm sure it would be used in prefereance to that grass stuff! This does not mean a vessel built ine old style is not "traditional" surely/ By your definitions traditional will die out - I see traditional as ongoing, slowly (very slowly) improving to suiut present conditions materials and the like!

    Classic could be said to be traditional style but modified - fishing boat converted to yacht!

    But "heritage"? no don't recognise it? is it something you've inherited from those who went before? surely that is "traditional"; unless of course it was your dad's boat - that's the only heritage I recognise! Sorry fellahs but that's my take on the situation (good old 'Walrus contaversial (can't even spell it) as usual!
     
  11. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    Mike and Raggi both have good points. We need to recognize that what we see as traditional is, in effect, a photograph, a single moment in time. Tradition does evolve, although evolution is, by definition, very slow change.

    Raggi's illustration is good: gradual changes in construction methods over time are evolutionary and are incorporated into the tradition. Modifications resulting from a change in power from wind to engine, however, are revolutionary changes made in a short time frame because of an innovation, i.e. the use of combustion engines.

    Viewed from our perspective, these are breaks from tradition. But 300 years from now, as the fishermen zip around on their fusion powered anti-grav platforms, zapping fish with their phasers, they may very well lump all boats that actually touch the water under the heading of traditional. :)
     
  12. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Refining (and simplyfying) my approach, I tend to think we should consider traditional vessels the ones which:

    - Are linked to an ethnic group.
    - Were conceived to efficiently perform a professional task on the water.
    - Have been developed and perfectioned over many generations by craftsmen/users.
    - Building knowledge acquired empirically and transmited orally.
    - Rugged and strong construction, using as few elements as possible.
    - Wood as main construction material (Animal skins or bones can also be considered, of course)
    - Mechanical unions in structure.
    - Propulsion by rows or sails, not engines.
    - Simple and effective rigs and maneouvres.

    Of course there are many twighlight zones which are still not clear to me. Can we consider an XVIII century man-of-war ship a traditional vessel? or a Roman galley? the Vasa? Should we consider those just as historical vessels rather than traditional?

    Then we have classics. Those to me are boats evolved from traditional ones, with the use of more technical knowledge and systems. Here we could mention a Herreshoff yacht, i.e., but also the scottish puffer.

    Heritage boats/ships are those having had a significative role in the history of a country and deserving to be kept for the future generations. Historical of course, but not necessarily traditional or classics. Let's think of USS Enterprise, as an example.

    All four categories may mix betwen them, so we may have a traditional boat (singular or just the style) being an historical one and deserving to be a part of the maritime heritage of a country.

    Makes all this sense....? I'm still not sure. For the time being I'm going to center my lecture just on boats I've defined upwards as 'traditional', to narrow the scope (all units at the Ferrol gathering are going to be that kind of boats). I'll try to focuse on the technical caracterization of those, and on what our national rules and regulations should consider to register and use them as such (we have a big problems with this).

    I attach a photo from a friend of mine's traditional galician 'dorna', built under those premises (Is my company's logo in the sail a traditional feature....? :D )
     

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  13. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    Very traditional. Advertising goes back to ancient times. A Greek vase in the Louvre from the 1st Century BC had an inscription which translated, "This is a bargain". Commercial and political advertising has been found on papyrus scrolls.

    Go ahead, Guillermo, promote yourself, it's an ancient tradition! :p :D
     
  14. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    Hi Guillermo, that was my creative way of talking, I was trying to be re-constructive not constructive.

    What I was saying is that you appeared to have picked a subject that you stated on your first post that you didn't know the meaning of the title that you have chosen. Since then the meaning of the term traditional seems to be up to debate.

    Traditionally when one gives a talk, the lecturer picks a subject that they are conversant with.

    Unless of course you are conversant with the subject matter and asked for help to obtain more material.

    In the film "10 Canoes" the Australian Aborigines removed bark from trees, the type I can't recall. Heated the bark over a fire to make it plyable and then formed it into a canoe.

    When it cooled it became rigid.

    The Australian Aborigines are well known for their dugout canoes and I was surprised to see this method of construction.

    Poida
     

  15. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Thanks, Poida. That's exactly what I pretend, as the term 'tarditional' seems to mean different things to different people. Unluckily the lack of a precise definition and normative leads to a variety of problems with the authorities in many countries, when someone tries to build up and navigate such a boat. The intention of the Conference in Ferrol is to analize the problem and try to contribute to a better definition and understanding of it, giving clues and ideas for a homogeneous regulamentation not only in Spain but throughout Europe, in the line of (and collaboration with) what the European Maritime Heritage organization is doing.

    Cheers. :)
     
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