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Thread: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

  1. #1
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    Default How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Considering they used square sails until the advent of the lateen rig.

    https://www.haaretz.com/science-and-...0000?_amp=true
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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    That was a great read! Thanks.
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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Excellent article thanks.

    I'm always fascinated by those comparisons between the rapid calculations of computers, compared to the patient observation of ancient and first peoples.
    In stories shrouded by 'personalities' and 'hero's' you find that carefully observed and carefully collected information in the spine of the stories. Of course ancient people never wasted a story on just practical facts, they entwined it with a moral dimension too. Waiting for the wind and the patience it would require for example.
    It's all fun and games until Darth Vader comes.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Cool, thnx!

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Interesting. Any info on the underbody of the ship? Going to weather is just as dependent on the wing in the water as on the wing in the air.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Another square sailed replica, beating into the wind.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    The article is interesting, but sailing a square rig to windward is not that big a deal if you have time. Ships used to round Cape Horn, after all, and I think their rigs would be a lot less efficient than a single sail, properly tacked and sheeted.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote from the article...[but waited for days with a favorable wind in the opposite direction,]

    What a crock.
    Last edited by John B; 08-04-2022 at 04:36 PM.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Why do so few archaeologists think square riggers can sail to windward? Do they never talk to sailors?

    Here are the lines of the Kyrenia Ship from about 300 B.C. (bow to port):




    Why bother with the wineglass sections in the garboards and external keel if you're always going to wait on the wind?

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    ^ The real irony is that most of the photos show the boat sailing close-hauled. The author could not have understood what he was watching, and did not ask.



    https://www.thearchaeologist.org/blo...ranean-mystery
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Downwind - any of 180°.
    Upwind - 90° of 180° at best.

    = If you're laying a course to a particular destination, using square sail(s), then downwind is best. Less wear-and-tear, less stress, and fewer risks of accidently crashing into Malta. I think the article's use of computation to calculate the potential possibilities is fascinating, but then these old salts would have known all about it.

    Good stuff & a fine use of experimental archaeology.

    Andy
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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    Downwind - any of 180°.
    Upwind - 90° of 180° at best.


    Andy
    I dont quite know what your math means. I have a book publishing a speed rose for a craft with a similar hull form making 53° off the wind, which is reasonable progress to windward.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    "The impervious horror of a leeward shore".
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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    Downwind - any of 180°.
    Upwind - 90° of 180° at best.

    = If you're laying a course to a particular destination, using square sail(s), then downwind is best. Less wear-and-tear, less stress, and fewer risks of accidently crashing into Malta. I think the article's use of computation to calculate the potential possibilities is fascinating, but then these old salts would have known all about it.

    Good stuff & a fine use of experimental archaeology.

    Andy
    What do you mean, that going to windward means an angle within 45 degrees of the wind? Hardly any vessels could do that prior to the 20th century yachts.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Hardly any vessels had to. Most could do 60 degrees off the wind, which is not so bad unless your destination is directly to windward, which is uncommon. Slow, yes, but so was life.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    Hardly any vessels had to. Most could do 60 degrees off the wind, which is not so bad unless your destination is directly to windward, which is uncommon. Slow, yes, but so was life.
    Given enough seaway, you put in a couple or three tacks. The safest way for an old rig like that is to wear ship.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Why do so few archaeologists think square riggers can sail to windward? Do they never talk to sailors?
    Smart people with no sailing experience. They probably read up on it, studied sailing even, but never did it. Experience trumps intellectualizing a thing pretty much every time.

    Kevin
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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    remember that egyptian replica ship that was put together about 12 years ago, and the "captain" they hired to sail it on the red sea was that guy who built the tin can trimaran that fell apart three miles from the dock.

    anybody can claim expertise in a non-academic subject, especially if they've published a book that nobody read or reviewed. not hard to understand how a researcher or reporter can be misled when looking for expertise on a subject that has no real academic, peer-reviewed hierarchy.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    There was a TV series years ago where a group of academics set out to re create achievements of the past. On their to do list was to carve and transport a new statue on Easter Island. After several days unsuccessfully chipping away at a chunk of rock and running out of time, they realised that there are two types of stone on Easter Island- they needed the other one. And then- one of the experts proclaimed that the reason there are now no trees on Easter Island was that they used tree trunks as rollers to move the statues to the other side of the island, and it's a long way- it would have required hundreds of trees to do it None of this pick one up and move it forward rubbish. Sometimes smart people are really stupid. JayInOz

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Its not just non-sailors. My mooring neighbour got a bit warm under the collar when i suggested his assessment of the sailing-to-weather capacity of a square rigged boat was not quite accurate. His opinion is that it is called square rigged because it cannot sail any closer to the wind that square. Extraordinarily nice guy of the top order - so i let it slide.

    The long boat looks like she's pointing to weather better, but check out her wake, she's knocking off big time.
    I think i spy a 'Beater Pole' hauling down the luff - the apparatus from which the word 'Beating' comes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Another square sailed replica, beating into the wind.

    This one is definitely close hauled, perhaps in the process of hauling the sail in.
    Its not sailing to weather (yet) - all indications look like the wind is directly abeam. Check out the flag on the sloop behind (and the white horses). Having said that, the sloop seems too close hauled for a broad reach......

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    ^ The real irony is that most of the photos show the boat sailing close-hauled. The author could not have understood what he was watching, and did not ask.



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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Many contemporary science "journalists" report on subjects they know nothing about; this reminds me of articles I've seen numerous times through the (internet) years describing how we could see a comet "streaking across the sky"... obviously written by someone who has never actually seen a comet...

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    The good thing about researchers is they tend to publish the results. https://www.researchgate.net/publica...ring_antiquity

    The article includes the polar diagram of the replica ship, obtained by actual measurements. It's not like they don't know how well the thing they built goes to windward.

    Polar-diagram-for-the-Maagan-Mikhael-II-used-in-weather-routing-simulations-Angles-to.jpg

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    The good thing about researchers is they tend to publish the results. https://www.researchgate.net/publica...ring_antiquity

    The article includes the polar diagram of the replica ship, obtained by actual measurements. It's not like they don't know how well the thing they built goes to windward.

    Polar-diagram-for-the-Maagan-Mikhael-II-used-in-weather-routing-simulations-Angles-to.jpg
    That polar is very comforting, but do we know whether they were able to sail the boat as well as the ancients did? In Inshore Craft of Norway, there is an account of the powers that be introducing the sprit rig to get better windward performance from the fleet, making them safer when facing a lee shore. Then, to demonstrate the superiority of the sprit rig, they held a regatta -- which the square rigged fishing boats won. These were double-ended boats with a steering oar.

    The Norwegians used bow lines on the luff of the square sail. Don't see any on this one.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    That polar is very comforting, but do we know whether they were able to sail the boat as well as the ancients did? In Inshore Craft of Norway, there is an account of the powers that be introducing the sprit rig to get better windward performance from the fleet, making them safer when facing a lee shore. Then, to demonstrate the superiority of the sprit rig, they held a regatta -- which the square rigged fishing boats won. These were double-ended boats with a steering oar.

    The Norwegians used bow lines on the luff of the square sail. Don't see any on this one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    I dont quite know what your math means. I have a book publishing a speed rose for a craft with a similar hull form making 53° off the wind, which is reasonable progress to windward.
    This was of a Shetland model, a descendant of the Norse craft and of similar form to the Israeli replica. Gunter sloop rigged though.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    This is the Kamper Kogge (Cog) a medieval (+/-1200-1400 AC) ship that was widely used for trade between European countries. She has a single square sail and she could sail 70 degrees off the wind.
    Sailing area; Baltic, North Sea, Atlantic, Mediterranean.
    Kamper kogge.jpg

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    That polar is very comforting, but do we know whether they were able to sail the boat as well as the ancients did? In Inshore Craft of Norway, there is an account of the powers that be introducing the sprit rig to get better windward performance from the fleet, making them safer when facing a lee shore. Then, to demonstrate the superiority of the sprit rig, they held a regatta -- which the square rigged fishing boats won. These were double-ended boats with a steering oar.

    The Norwegians used bow lines on the luff of the square sail. Don't see any on this one.
    We don't, just as we don't know if they got the sail aspect ratio right, or even the hull shape. Most of the answers are at the bottom of the Black Sea, but until now nobody has found the money to bring them to the surface.

    As far as I know (I can be wrong) we have no indications for luff tensioning lines in the Med. Pictorial evidence shows mostly low aspect ratio sails with concave luffs, so I don't know how useful they would be.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Pictorial evidence from the 17th and 18th centuries shows some pretty funky stuff. My favorite is that of a square rigger about to be wrecked on a windward shore, by a Dutch old master in the National Gallery.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    This was of a Shetland model, a descendant of the Norse craft and of similar form to the Israeli replica. Gunter sloop rigged though.
    The Norwegian boats in the regatta I referred to would have looked something like this:


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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    We don't, just as we don't know if they got the sail aspect ratio right, or even the hull shape. Most of the answers are at the bottom of the Black Sea, but until now nobody has found the money to bring them to the surface.

    As far as I know (I can be wrong) we have no indications for luff tensioning lines in the Med. Pictorial evidence shows mostly low aspect ratio sails with concave luffs, so I don't know how useful they would be.
    I'm sure all ancient sailing craft were at their best with wind behind the beam, and sailing routes would be designed to give them that as much as possible. My point is that the polar might be deceptive because people unaccustomed to the rig are unlikely to get the most out of it.

    I have seen pictures that seem to show the tack pulled down to the deck, the clew flying high, and the yard at a jaunty angle, as if they were using the rig like a settee rig with a high clew. As George points out, these illustrations may or may not represent actual practice by mariners, but it does seem likely that the ancients would have known more than the reenactors.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    The Norwegian boats in the regatta I referred to would have looked something like this:

    Yep, the Nordlands boats hung on to square rig to the end of sail.

    Most other Norwegians types went over to sprit, or lug of one form or another.
    The Shetland Islanders bought their boats from Bergen, Hardanger Fyord, like this one
    And then developed them by using more, narrower strakes
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    My favorite is that of a square rigger about to be wrecked on a windward shore . . .
    That takes skill.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    That takes skill.
    Yes, convincing artistic license really is an Art.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med


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    Default Re: How ancient sailors sailed west in The Med

    Crunching all that data was just a way to justify a hefty research grant.

    As an earlier poster mentioned, the bloody picture in the article shows a square sail hard to windward.

    Sometimes things are as simple as they seem, the real skill is when you can convince a funding agency to bestow some bucks on you to pay your bills for a couple of years, and provide the necessary scrilla so you can take your comely graduate student research assistant to Ibiza for 2 weeks for "research". Then come home and prove your theory with readily available equipment.
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