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Bob Cleek
03-25-2012, 06:14 PM
This Irishman has been doing a fair bit of research on Irish watercraft of late, catching up on the seafaring history of my grandparents' homeland, Cork and Waterford in particular. I must say that the historic boat thing in Ireland and Britain seems to be way beyond anything we have here. In my internet browsing, I've come across a couple of great sites connected with what is becoming a strong movement in Ireland to record, restore and recreate historic sailing craft.

The "Traditional Boats of Ireland Project" is apparently a govermentally endorsed project to document as much of Ireland's maritime heritage as possible. It operates in conjunction with universities and the government cultural department, which since independence has sought to restore the Irish language and culture that had eroded (or had been intentionally stamped out, depending upon how Republican you are) over the centuries of colonial rule. They have produced the great book, "Traditional Boats of Ireland" (available from WB Store and well worth the price... it's a huge high quality coffee table book full of academic, but very readable, articles on every type of historic Irish watercraft, of which there are many.) Besides academic research, they are also setting up museums, traditional boatbuilding vocational programs and recreating extinct working watercraft. One of these, I believe, is Meitheal Mara ("Work of the Sea"), which is a wooden boat buildling vocational program. http://www.meithealmara.ie/

The "Traditional Boats of Ireland Project's" website is a keeper for sure. There are many pages of photos and lines drawings and construction plans for a lot of really interesting (and buildable!) boats of all sizes. The photography and presentation is of the highest quality. Some designs even have computerized 3D features so you can move the computer generated pictures of the particular vessels around to view them from any angle. They provide a combination of contemporary photos as well as historical pictures. http://tradboats.ie/project/index.php

Another site that is related to the "Traditional Boats... Project" is the "Kinsale Hooker Project." This project is in the process of recreating the presently extinct Kinsale Hooker, a fishing craft of approximately 40' on deck. Their Facebook page has drawn a lot of contributions from the Irish, British, French and Scandahoovian traditional boat communities. There are picture series of pilot boats, fishing boats and so on, as well as a lot of coverage of the popular traditional boat racing circuit that is taking off like great guns over there. (Click on the single pictures in the Facebook page and lots of other thumbnails come up.) They also provide complete plans for the representative Kinsale Hooker they are building, which were derived from historical research and a single highly detailed model in the National Museum.
http://www.facebook.com/KinsaleHookerProject

Also, another good place to waste some time is the website of the Galway Hooker Association. http://www.galwayhookerassociation.ie/ You'll probably have to click on the "Irish/English" drop down translater in the upper left quadrant of the page, just above the table of contents. I heard Irish spoken at home when I was growing up, but, sadly, it was spoken by the "grown-ups" when they didn't want the kids knowing what they were saying, so I never learned it. Reading it is almost as hard as learning to speak it, since certain letters, when placed before or after vowels (I can't remember which) aren't "sounded" at all, but are actually used as accent marks! (Irish is the oldest written literature in Western Europe, but its modern spelling and pronounciation system was standardized only as recently as 1948.)

The Galway Hookers are really interesting craft. There are four basic types based on size, the bad mor ("bawd more") 35' and up, the leath bhád ("la bawth") 35' to about 28', the gleoiteog ("glou-chug") around 28' to 24', and the pucan ("poo-con"), below 24', which often carries a lateen main rather than a gaff main. These are really interesting boats and, from all indications, very seaworthy with high pointing ability and a good turn of speed. They are now actively raced in Ireland. Be careful, if you watch these YouTube videos, you're going to want one! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJFRN-cL0Os&feature=player_embedded#! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYZOI74IPh0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eOuOQrRsRo

http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/attachments/wooden-boat-building-restoration/11378d1170370785-design-info-galway-hooker-galway-hooker.jpg

http://intheboatshed.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Galway-hooker-from-Dixon-Kemp.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-miat5eWVeoY/TkgX2BzH6aI/AAAAAAAABDE/ekhwAXaNr_g/s1600/IMG_1340.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4122/4736569631_8823d6a0cb.jpg

http://www.dreamstime.com/galway-hooker-thumb5296213.jpg

http://photos5.media.pix.ie/64/44/6444EEF36BFD4EA58B5E65F146EEBBE6-0000314357-0002033133-00800L-91404FD73A9943CE8742C63F63B61329.jpg?w=840

As for the hookers, Chapelle discussed a "Boston Hooker" in "Ameican Small Sailing Craft," commenting accurately that the type was brought over intact by Irish fishermen and boatbuilders starting with the Great Famine emigration in around 1850, mainly to Boston, but also in limited numbers on SF Bay and that the type was pretty much extinct in the US by the turn of the last century. He compared the lines taken off in the 1930's (IIRC) of what was likely a hulk without a sail plan. He writes that the Boston Hooker evolved to reduce tumblehome, straighten the curve of the bow and fine the entry, decrease the rake in the sternpost, and to include a laced mainsail foot. Chapelle's research apparently did not include actually studying the Irish Hookers in their native habitat, but rather he relied solely on lines taken in the late 1800's and published by Dixon Kemp (pictured above). (These were the only published lines extant at that time, as the boats were built "by eye.") Indeed, the differences Chaplle notes do exist between the Kemp specimen and Chapelle's Boston version, but what Chapelle overlooked was that the evolution he notes was not unique to Boston Hookers, but to Galway Hookers in general. In Ireland, there are hookers built in the late 1800's, restored and still sailing, and hookers built in the natural course of workboat evolution up to about WWII, as well as many replicas. Looking at these, it is easy to see that Kemp's specimen was likely built some time well before the lines were published, as they depict an early version, but the Boston specimen Chapelle compared them to was likely built in the early 1900's and was really not all that different from what was being built in Galway at the same time. As the boats were all built "by eye," there is also a considerable variation in detail from boat to boat and builder to builder. Moreover, perhaps because the rig wasn't available, Chapelle's depiction of the rig on his Boston Hooker is decidedly "unhookerlike." Characteristic to the hooker is that the angle of the gaff is parallel to the angle of the headstay. Not so on Chapelle's Boston Hooker. There are, AFAIK, only two extant photos of a Boston Hooker, these from the Fisheries Commission Reports upon which Chapelle relied heavily in much of his research. Only one of these pictures shows the sails set, and it is apparent that this old photo does show a rig similar to what Chapelle published, but it is also apparent that the boat is old and decrepit and that the rig may well have been cobbed together from "spare parts." The high peaked gaff is, in good measure, what gives the hooker its remarkable windward ability. It make no sense to conclude that Irish fishermen and boatbuilders, who continued to emigrate to the Boston area throughout the lifespan of the Boston Hooker would not bring with them from the Old Country newly evolved details with them over the same span, nor that they would abandon the high peaked gaff for one that lacked the windward drive of the Irish original. So, although I hold Chapelle in awe, on this point, for my money, the Irish and the "Boston" hookers are really one and the same type of boat and since we now have much more reliable historical data and exemplars of the Galway Hookers, I'd expect they'd be the measure if one were to build one.

Larks
03-25-2012, 06:43 PM
Thanks for passing this on Bob, great find!!

Peerie Maa
03-25-2012, 06:44 PM
Excellent. I got the book for Xmas, this site compliments it wonderfully. You do realise that the Boston Paddy Boats are copies of the Galway hooker?

This is a nice clip of a Bad Mor cracking on. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGxaLPzcsUA&feature=related

skuthorp
03-25-2012, 07:39 PM
What a find Bob, thanks very much.

Binnacle Bat
03-25-2012, 07:43 PM
Excellent. I got the book for Xmas, this site compliments it wonderfully. You do realise that the Boston Paddy Boats are copies of the Galway hooker?



I'd always heard them referred to politely as Boston Hookers, both acknowledging their Irish ancestry and avoiding the patronizing "Paddy". Compared to all the indigeous New England types, the Boston Hooker's Irish ancestry is obvious.

I haven't heard that any Yankees found them better suited than the local types.

Incidently a Boston Irish fish merchant, Thomas McManus, was one of the pre-eminant designers of New England fishing schooners. His designs show no obvious Hooker influence.

Allan

GregH
03-25-2012, 07:43 PM
Great pix & vid..........but waddidtheysay???

Bob Cleek
03-25-2012, 10:17 PM
Excellent. I got the book for Xmas, this site compliments it wonderfully. You do realise that the Boston Paddy Boats are copies of the Galway hooker?

This is a nice clip of a Bad Mor cracking on. :)


That's a great video. Hadn't seen it before. An American Mor ("The American Boat") is a very famous old Galway Hooker. I believe she's more than 100 years old now. She got her curious name because early in her life, so the story goes, her owner, a Claddagh fisherman, got PO'd in the pub one night and decided to emigrate to America. He loaded his boat up and off he went, but after a while he sobered up and sailed back home the next day. After that, everybody jokingly called her "the American boat" and so that's been her name ever since.

I'm am indeed aware that the Boston Hookers were "copies" of the Irish Hookers. Actually, when the hard times of the Great Famine hit, they hit hardest in southern and western Ireland, where the hookers evolved. Fishermen and boatbuilders move to the Boston area in droves and just picked up where they left off, fishing and building fishing boats just as they had in the Old Country. Thus, the Boston Hookers weren't so much "copied" as they were "transplanted."

Bob Cleek
03-25-2012, 10:21 PM
I'd always heard them referred to politely as Boston Hookers, both acknowledging their Irish ancestry and avoiding the patronizing "Paddy". Compared to all the indigeous New England types, the Boston Hooker's Irish ancestry is obvious.

I haven't heard that any Yankees found them better suited than the local types.

Incidently a Boston Irish fish merchant, Thomas McManus, was one of the pre-eminant designers of New England fishing schooners. His designs show no obvious Hooker influence.

Allan

Yes, Chapelle spends some time addressing this. The fishing vessels that replaced the Boston Hookers were strongly influenced by the racing yachts of the day, thus ending the evolution of the hooker type in Boston. The fishing schooners responded to the need for a much larger vessel, as the inshore fishery became "fished out" and fishing had to be done farther afield. The transition to larger schooners that could carry dories rendered the hookers obsolete.

Bob Cleek
03-25-2012, 10:29 PM
Great pix & vid..........but waddidtheysay???

They sound just like my grandmother and mother talking about us kids... I didn't understand it then, either!

Irish is a whole 'nuther language. One of the Gaelic languages, it's very ancient and spoken only in parts of Ireland, Scotland and Manx. The Irish government has done a lot to try to restore it after it was supressed by the British colonial authorities for centuries, but with only fair results. It is one of the two "official" languages of Ireland, English being the other. It is mandatory to be taught in the schools, and the younger generation speak it now more than the older generations. In some areas, though, such as Galway and small pockets of Waterford and Cork Counties, it has remained a commonly spoken language, although the numbers of native speakers as a "first language" has dropped significantly. Now, it is more like Latin, studied in school, but not spoken in commerce routinely, although Irish law requires that all official documents, signs and so on be in both Irish and English.

Don't even think about trying to learn or understand it. For starters, in the sentence structure the verb comes first, then the subject and the object. Pronunciation is critical with some sounds made with the back of the throat and some on the palate, each having different meanings. It could drive you to drink!

Peerie Maa
03-26-2012, 10:55 AM
Yes, Chapelle spends some time addressing this. The fishing vessels that replaced the Boston Hookers were strongly influenced by the racing yachts of the day, thus ending the evolution of the hooker type in Boston. The fishing schooners responded to the need for a much larger vessel, as the inshore fishery became "fished out" and fishing had to be done farther afield. The transition to larger schooners that could carry dories rendered the hookers obsolete.
The Boston boat drawn in Chapelle is very much the hooker in form and rig, but you can see how they have evolved away in terms of construction details and some fittings. Probably from observation of boats indigenous to their new home. Whereas the Galway hookers maintained some odd methods, most notably the outer stem/cutwater planted on the front of the main stem.

Bob Cleek
03-26-2012, 03:45 PM
The Boston boat drawn in Chapelle is very much the hooker in form and rig, but you can see how they have evolved away in terms of construction details and some fittings. Probably from observation of boats indigenous to their new home. Whereas the Galway hookers maintained some odd methods, most notably the outer stem/cutwater planted on the front of the main stem.

The details that Chapelle notes as changing aren't really all that remarkable when you look at the Irish hookers of the same era. There's a neat little book called "The Galway Hookers" published at the beginning of the Irish hooker revival that is full of photos of old Irish hookers. The variations he describes are present in the Irish fleet as well. The outter stem and the outter sternpost are present in many, but the outter sternpost isn't present in some. The outter sternpost is a mystery to me. It is fastened with drifts to the sternpost and extends right over the transom planking. The rudder is then attached to it. I'm going to have to ask somebody in Ireland why they did that. It seems it would make repairs to the transom planking a real pain.

There is also a lot of variation in the amount of tumblehome in the Irish boats, with an apparent tendency to reduce it as time went on. It's purpose, together with the flat bottom lines, was to permit the boats to lay upright against the stone quays there when the tide went out and the boat took the bottom. That wouldn't be necessary so much in Boston, where they used wharfs. A lot of the other minor differences are not distinctive, really. The little horn on the rail that Chapelle mentions being distinctive to Boston hookers is simply a fitting to hold a trawl when bottom trawling, which wasn't done in Ireland, as far as I know. That doesn't make a Boston hooker any different, it's just a piece of equipment.

We have to remember that Chapelle's information was very limited. He probably only had the one hull to survey and a couple of photos, plus maybe an old timer or two with failing memory to tell him something about the Boston hookers. We have a lot more now on the Irish hookers. You can see from this photo of a Boston hooker that she does indeed retain the high peaked gaff, unlike the rather pitiful sail plan Chapelle left us, but she has lost a lot of her tumblehome. The foot of her main does look like it is laced to the boom, but we can't tell if the main is really laced at the foot because the boat appears to have a reef tied in. (Hard to believe Chapelle would have missed that and concluded they were all tied to the boom.) She's no different that a lot of the photos of the old Irish hookers of the same era, save that she is rather flat sided.

http://webmuseum.mit.edu/grabimg.php?wm=1&kv=5559

Here's the other photo showing Boston hookers tied up at Boston's T Wharf. From this photo, you can see a couple of boats that appear nearly indistinguishable from the Irish hookers.


http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/historical_ecology/slide_images/IMG_6900.jpg

rogue
03-26-2012, 08:19 PM
Great Thread! Thanks Bob, this will keep me going for hours...When I first started school, we were taught by Irish nuns who had only been in the country for five days. They were very homesick, so they taught us to pray in Irish, sing in Irish, and dance all the traditional dances.This for some reason ended by the fourth grade, but I can still remember some of the songs...

Mad Scientist
03-26-2012, 08:29 PM
...Irish is a whole 'nuther language. One of the Gaelic languages, it's very ancient and spoken only in parts of Ireland, Scotland and Manx. The Irish government has done a lot to try to restore it after it was supressed by the British colonial authorities for centuries, but with only fair results. It is one of the two "official" languages of Ireland, English being the other. It is mandatory to be taught in the schools, and the younger generation speak it now more than the older generations. In some areas, though, such as Galway and small pockets of Waterford and Cork Counties, it has remained a commonly spoken language, although the numbers of native speakers as a "first language" has dropped significantly. Now, it is more like Latin, studied in school, but not spoken in commerce routinely, although Irish law requires that all official documents, signs and so on be in both Irish and English.

Don't even think about trying to learn or understand it. For starters, in the sentence structure the verb comes first, then the subject and the object. Pronunciation is critical with some sounds made with the back of the throat and some on the palate, each having different meanings. It could drive you to drink!

The Scottish version of Gaelic is still spoken in parts of Nova Scotia, too. So, when our ship visited Cobh, we had a Gaelic speaker in the crew. He went for a walk in the countryside, looking to make use of his language skill. Afterward, he told us that he could communicate easily in town, but the farther out of town he got, the more distinct the local dialect became, until it was impossible for him to understand.

Tom

Hughman
03-26-2012, 10:05 PM
thanks, Bob. this is good stuff

Bob Cleek
03-30-2012, 06:48 PM
Just found another picture of Boston hookers in the NOAA Historic Fisheries Collection, which houses all the photos of the old US Fisheries Commission. This collection is a real find if you like turn of the century watercraft.

http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/brs/hfind40.htm


http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/700s/fish6871.jpg

As can be seen, there is little, of any difference between the Boston and Galway Irish hookers.