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EARLY SHIPS AND SEAFARING - EUROPEAN WATER TRANSPORT

Early Ships and Seafaring - European Water Transport

Author(s)                 Sean McGrail
Publisher Pen & Sword Mairitime
Date 2015
Pages 192
Format epub
Size 2.8 Mb

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   Two-thirds of the world's surface is covered by sea; the other third has numerous lakes and rivers which were pre-eminently early Man's 'highways'. Since the Stone Age. water transport on lake, river and sea has been the prime means by which Man explored and exploited the world, linked together its dispersed populations, and sustained trade and exchange. The raft and the boat remained principle actors in that role until the advent of the aeroplane in the early twentieth century. Boats are their own advertisement: there therefore has been a tendency for styles of boat building and methods of propulsion and steering to spread around centres of innovation and become regional styles. The aim of this volume is to present what is now known about the water transport of two of those regions: the Mediterranean and the European Atlantic seaboard. The time span of the text extends from earliest days to the fifteenth century AD when European ships had begun to be designed in a formal way, and technical descriptions and drawings of water transport were produced. A significant change in water transport occurred with the introduction of the ship - with all that increase in size implies for operational capabilities. In the English language, there is no clear dividing line between the two, merely a range of characteristics of which the ship, generally speaking, has more than the planked boat. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the 'boat' as 'a small open vessel; the 'ship' as 'a large seagoing vessel1. A distinction is thereby drawn between, on the one hand, a small, un-decked vessel limited in range and by the weather, and using informal landing places; and. on the other hand, a large, decked vessel, capable of carrying a boat onboard, relatively unrestricted in range or by the weather, and often operated from formal harbours with wharfs and jetties.

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