The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Inland Navigation. No. II
The Monthly Nautical Magazine and Quarterly Review (New York, NY), November 1854, pp. 65-70

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Not to the proud ocean alone, with its rock-bound, surge- beaten shore, heaving its huge billows in terrific grandeur, or bearing in pride the swift, majestic ship upon a salt-water crest, is the contest for victory in maritime enterprise to be confined. Another vast race-course is imbedded in our continent, upon which the grand nautical struggle of the age has found spirited champions to conduct its manoDUvres with nerve and intelligence. The clear, fresh waters of our inland seas afford a theatre for triumphs in marine architecture and nautical skill, through wise application of scientific principles in building, [p. 66] in noble daring and keen observation in navigation, quite as important to the great States contiguous to their refreshing breezes, as any that can be offered to their sisters on the salt sea- board.

The history of the fresh-water marine of the United States, could it be written, would not be found without stirring interest. Its commercial as well as naval memories would recall a series of achievements, of which we may be equally proud in a national view, from the time the first exploring barge ploughed her wake through the placid waves, till steam was introduced. The watch-word has been progress, from the date of Perry's victorious battle on the wilderness basin, until the snorting locomotive has now come down upon the fertile banks, bellowing to its kind, which is puffing in every creek that waters the growing seaports leaping into existence a thousand miles from sea. The modest schooner first led the way, as schooners have ever led, to fortune and bolder enterprise. Then the brig, the steamboat, the propeller, the bark, and the monster steamer. Population and wealth have long since demanded railroads, for the purposes of a swifter conveyance of persons and property; and the rapidly developing condition of our Central States still calls for an equally rapid augmentation of commercial facilities. A cheap and rapid interchange of the abundant products of these States with the world around them, is an essential condition of commercial prosperity, and the only basis on which they can build an emporium of commerce which shall shape the destinies of the fertile West and their common country. Nature has furnished an ample highway to the ocean, which, by the arbitrary exactments of British statesmen, has, until now, flowed in vain for the evident purpose it was in part intended. But this obstacle is now to be removed, and our lake-freighted vessels may yet pour down the St. Lawrence in hundreds, bound for the markets of the whole world.

The physical prosperity of the West has already become in- dissolubly connected with commerce, and its chief ports will become the theatre of augmented bustle and business when the great channel shall be opened to the Atlantic for American en- terprise.

[p. 67] Therefore, whatever adds to the efficiency of shipping by greater burden, strength, and speed, will be hailed by the soil, the mine, the forest, the manufactory, — each, all, and every interest, -- as a fresh accession of wealth and supremacy, by enhancing the elements of commercial power. For the purpose of a cheap and rapid interchange of products with the East, marine transportation has hitherto stood unrivalled, and, as we believe, is destined still so to stand, till the last cargo is freighted, navigation is closed, and shipping operations come to an end. But nevertheless, there are those whose interests are shackled to the rolling locomotive on the iron track, who fain would be but too happy to esteem their favorite "car" the fortunate rival of the white-winged vessel on the track of foam. It is thought they anticipate the time when rail carriage will gain the ascendency, railroads assume the sceptre, and our present prosperous commercial cities become but gigantic way-stations upon the vast lines of Eastern and Western trade.

We have no fears of such a result. Marine architecture is susceptible yet of numerous and wonderful improvements, and the exigencies of the time will wake them into life. Nature has given us the wind and the wave, and only mechanical and nau- tical skill is wanting, when capital bids, to outstrip every competitor in the field, whether in cheapness, safety, or speed, in bearing the products of industrial energy to the markets of the world. The superiority of our inland marine over railroads for the transportation of freight will most clearly appear, as we increase the size and enhance the speed of vessels. These improvements are alone sufficient to maintain the balance of rivalry. And let it not be thought that the draught of water will frustrate the designs of larger vessels. Ten feet is sufficient for 1,000 tons.

As shapes have a clearer significance than signs, and investigation is rendered inviting by observation, we have given to the eye the body-plan draught of a first-class lake vessel in fig. 5 of the present volume, and shall furnish the rig in fig. 6 of same. This vessel is designed to embody, both in fact and form, the principles which we endeavored to lay down in a former article, and will be found of the following dimensions: -- [p. 68] 68 The Monthly Nautical Magazine.

These are the principal for which the ship-builder would in- quire; but the world, without the pale of mechanical attainments, would not feel to be in possession of any satisfactory information upon the topic of dimensions, unless the length of keel and depth of hold were exactly defined in feet and inches. A few remarks may enable the uninitiated to comprehend the inexpediency of determining the length of keel as the measure of a ship's length ; for while it is true that many vessels have a keel ending abruptly under the fore-foot, there are others which unite the keel and stem by a curve continuous and easy, -- so blending the vertical with the horizontal back-bone of the sled-runner vessel, that the prince of puzzlers would be all adrift in locating the point where one began or the other ended. Moreover, the rake, which may be in curved or straight lines, destroys the value of the investigation, although the corner of the fore-foot remains, and the amount of rake is exceedingly varying, according to caprice or fashion, on both ends of the vessel ; so that the length of keel, without a knowledge of the rakes and curves of post and stem, conveys a very indefinite idea of a ship's length. On the other hand, the length taken on the load-line of construction averages at once the mean length of the vessel from wood ends to wood ends. The depth of hold is equally vague and indefinite respecting the measurement of depth. It varies fore and aftwise with the sheer of the vessel, and depends on the location of the hatch, the thickness of the ceiling, and the crown of the beams. It may or may not show, within a handful of inches, the exact condition of depth. If the vessel have a large sheer, the depth of hold appears the same, as it is usually taken in the same manner as if the sheer were less. If the vessel have a large amount of dead-rise, the hold is made to appear very deep in figures, though capacity may be very limited in comparison with a shoaler vessel having a flat floor. The measure we have shown for depth is all that is of any real utility in commercial [p. 69] mechanism. And what can we determine from the principal dimensions that shall afford us any clear indication of the bulk and quality of marine structures? Very little, we think is furnished to the casual inquirer, when he is summarily posted upon the elements of government appreciation; for without the builder's CALCULATIONS, nothing is known of the model beyond the intuitive fany of the spectator, aiding by his unfailing eye, and some friend's opinion. Therefore, without the unerring deductions of figures, we cannot hope to compare model with model when the fancy has become attached to favorite dimensions, or the eye wedded to threadbare forms, and refuses, perhaps, to acknowledge correct principles if clothed in unfamiliar shapes.

We will now give the calculations of this schooner, or bark, as some would dignify the rig; and in succeeding pages it will more fully appear how readily we may compare the forms and qualities of vessels, and point out the indices to the mysteries of performance.

Height of load-line of construction above base 9.42
Length on ditto between rabbets 169.68
Breadth moulded at dead flat frame 36.
Depth from rabbet to gunwale at dead flat frame 16.
Centre of gravity of displacement aft of middle of load-line, = 1.85 feet. Centre of gravity of displacement below load-line, 3.72 feet. Area of load, or 6th waterline plane, = 4494.6 square feet. Centre of gravity of load-water plane aft of middle length, = 2.51 feet. Area of dead flat frame, in square feet, 272.25. Moment of stability, = 390064.1 = S 2/3 y^3dx. Metre centre, or index of stability, above the centre of gravity of displacement = 13.32 feet, (very high) Exponent of displacement, = 0.51 L.B.H. Exponent of load-water plane, = 0.736 L. B. Exponent of dead flat section, = 0.81 B.H. Centre board is 40 feet long, and the maximum resistant area = 360 sq. ft. Centre of effort of the centre board ranges from one to five feet forward of middle of load-line. Centre of lateral resistance on an even trim, when the board is down is near the middle of load-line; bt when the latter is up, it will be found quite as far aft as the centre of buoyancy, or centre of gravity of displacement.
Cubic Feet.
Displacement, moulded below load-line 29274.40
Displacement, planked " " 29446.5
Displacement, total in gross tons 841.3
Displacement, total below light-line of flotation 335.
Displacement for cargo in gross tons 506.


Main-mast, 87.60 ft. long, -- head off, 14.75 ft.; yard, 68.85 ft. -- both arms off 9.50 ft.

Main top-mast, 33 ft.; yard, 57.37 ft. -- arms off, 9.50 ft.

Main top-gallant, 26 feet; yard, 43 feet -- arms off, 5.25 feet.

Main royal, 14 ft. + 8 ft. pole; yard, 32.25 ft. -- arms off, 4.25 ft.

[p. 70]Foremast, 67.50 ft.‚-- head off, 11.2 ft. ; yard, 68.85 ft.‚-- arms off, 9.50 ft.

Foretop-mast, 40.5 ft.‚-- head off, 6.75 ft. ; yard, 55 ft.‚-- arms off, 9.50 ft.

Foretop-gallant, 21.4 ft. ; yard, 41.25 ft. ‚-- arms off, 5.16 ft.

Fore royal, 14 ft. + 7 ft. pole ; yard, 30.93 ft. ‚-- arms off, 4 ft.

Mizen-mast, 85 ft.‚-- head off, 14 ft. ; topmast, 36 + 12 + 6 ft. pole.

Bowsprit outboard, 17 ft. ; first jib-boom, 15 feet; 2d do., 11.25 ft.

Flying jib-boom, 7.50 ft. + pole, 3.75 ft.

Main staysail boom, 62 ft. ‚-- pole off, 2 ft.

Main boom, 39 ft.‚-- pole off, 1 foot ; gaff, 33 ft.‚-- pole off, 3 ft.

Mizen boom, 48 ft.‚-- pole off, 3 ft. ; gaff, 31 ft.‚-- pole off, 4 ft.


Area of leading sails, or those on which the centre of effort is found marked, = 13147 square feet. Number of square feet of sail to the ton of load-line displacement, = 15.60 feet. Centre of effort of sails forward of centre of length of water-line, =2.75 feet ; forward of centre of buoyancy, 4.60 feet. Centre of effort of sails above load-water line, = 50.69 feet. Vertical moment of sails, = 666463. Vertical moment of sails = moment of stability X 1.70, which is a small amount of sail in proportion to the vessels stability, -- the latter being very great, but a fair apportionment when we consider the displacement, and the ease of the lines of resistance.

We may add, that the rig is not taunt, when we compare the great breadth of beam, and consequent spread of the rigging ; the bowsprit is short, and the jib-booms may be well guyed, as the bow is sufficiently full on the rail to afford ample spread. The jibs are so shaped as to stand well when the sheets lead in a line drawn from the centre of effort through the clue of the sail, as this is the correct principle to get the foot and after leech to stretch alike. In shaping stay-sails, jibs, and all triangular sails, it should be an object to cut down the length on the stay to the shortest practicable limits, so as to dispense with all unnecessary hoist and down-haul, and to get the sail in a body, that it may be handled and trimmed with dispatch.

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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Inland Navigation. No. II
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Inland Navigation. No. II