birdsedge (birdsedge) wrote in little_details,

Details of a sailing ship keel

I've googled on 'parts of a ship', 'keel', 'stem', and  'stem to stern', but nothing has quite given me the level of detail I need.

I've got (in my story anyway)  an 80-foot, 2 masted topsail schooner made of Bermuda teak and the current date is 1800. The vessel was probably built some thirty to forty years earlier. She's a privateer, so been through the wars a bit, but she's shipshape.

She's got a shallow draft, so there's only the main (open) deck and one level below, which is basically the hold with the captain's tiny cabin in the stern and a few partitions to form compartments for (say) the powder magazine

My question is this:

If the keel of a ship is the spine that 'joins' the two halves, and the stem is the bit that joins the bows, where exactly does the keel stop being a keel and the stem start being a stem, or is the stem still technically part of the keel right up as far as the bowsprit?

I need to describe and name that bit of structural timber which curves up from the keel and becomes the stem. The point at which I have to get into some detail is the point at which it becomes visible as it rises up through the lower deck timbers into the hold. i.e. the lower deck floor right in the pointy bit. To labour a point in the interests of clarity... if you went into the hold and lay face down on the deck with your head as far into the pointy end as you could push it, the top of your head would be touching this bit of timber,

So at that point is it the keel or the stem? Or does it have some other name I haven't come across yet?

For a bonus point (if we're scoring) can anyone give me any idea of what kind of paint would be used in this period and whether that specific bit of timber would be likely to have been painted or tarred or left untreated.

Many thanks. This is for a fantasy novel ('Between Wind and Water') in the very last stages of polishing. It's going to my agent on Monday morning.
Tags: 1800-1809, ~age of sail, ~boats and other things that float

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.