A small vessel for the conveyance of goods or passengers to short distances, and which may be impelled either by oars or sails at pleasure. They are for the most part open or without decks; but the varieties in their form and construction, according to the purposes for which they are intended, are so great as to preclude enumeration. Boats always form part of a ship's equipment; the number depending upon the size of the vessel, and the service for which it is intended. Of these the cutters, gig, and jolly boat, are principally employed for the conveyance of officers and crews on any service; and the long boat or launch, for the conveyance of heavy stores of every description to and from the vessel. The engraving represents an improvement in this latter class of boats, when employed for laying out and weighing heavy anchors, and for landing and embarking cannon. The usual mode of laying out anchors by means of a ship's launch is, to place the anchor over the boat's stern, and to coil the cable on the gunwale; but this lumbers up the boat, overloads it, and exposes it to the danger of being swamped in a high sea.
To obviate this, attempts have been made to sling the anchor beneath the boat, as near as possible in the centre of gravity of the boat; none of these, however, succeeded so as to encourage their adoption. Subsequently, Mr. Cow (master boat-builder of the Royal Dock, at Woolwich,) devised the present arrangement, which was so much approved by the Navy Board, that they have directed that every ship of war of a certain class shall be furnished with a launch fitted on Mr. Cow's principle, and the Society of Arts have rewarded him with a gold medal for the invention.
The former method (alluded to above) for carrying an anchor under a boat's bottom, was to have only one fixed trunk, which was in the middle of the boat, close to the side of the keel; the windlass, therefore, could only be supported at the ends, and was unequal to the heaving up any great weight; the great strain also was entirely on the sides of the boat. By Mr. Cow's plan there are two movable trunks at a proper distance from the keel, thereby allowing a strong stanchion to be placed on the kelson, which stanchion supports the middle of the windlass, and consequently makes it of sufficient strength to weigh any weight that the boat is able to sustain. Fig. 1 gives a perspective view of a 74-gun ship's launch, with a bower anchor suspended under the bottom, and a bower cable coiled into the boat, a is the cable; b b the anchor; e c the buoy rope; d a rope by which the anchor is hove up when weighing, or suspended when carrying, by the windlass. Fig. 2 gives a mid-ship section of the launch, with two32-pounders suspended from the windlass. h h the guns lashed to wooden slides; Hi ropes by which the guns are hove up to the boat's bottom; k h water-tight removable wood trunks, through which the ropes pass to the windlass; l l the windlass in two parts connected by a wrought iron gudgeon and socket; m a removable strong wrought iron stanchion, which supports the middle of the windlass.
The application of the invention to the purpose of landing and embarking heavy guns is also of great importance, as it enables this operation to be conducted on a beach with perfect safety to the men and boats, at times when the surf is so great as to preclude the possibility of boats approaching near enough to land or to embark in the usual way; for the boat (with two guns suspended one on each side of the keel, as shown in Fig. 2) being brought to anchor without the surf, a small line is the only connexion necessary with the shore, by which line the larger hauling ropes are conveyed, which being made fast to the guns, the latter are lowered from the boat, and hauled upon the beach.
Should the operation be carried on where there is a rise and fall of the tide, and the guns should not be immediately wanted, it will be only necessary to take the boat in at high water, and drop the guns, which may be taken up as the tide leaves them; in either case the boat is fit for any other service, without risk of damage by being kept afloat. The interior of the boat is kept clear for stowing the carriages and other stores. The embarking of guns is performed in the same way, care being taken to have anchors of sufficient power to moor the boat without the surf, so as to counteract the weight of the guns, and the resistance it meets with in being hauled off from the shore. Boats and small vessels are sometimes built flat-bottomed, to allow of their going into shoal water when required; and in order that they may carry a sufficient quantity of sail, and to prevent their making lee-way, they are fitted with what are termed sliding keels. These were first introduced into this country by Admiral Schank, at whose instance a government vessel, which was destined for a surveying vessel at New Holland, was fitted with them.
These sliding keels consisted of three stout planks, descending through water-tight wells to a considerable depth below the ship's bottom, and fitted with apparatus for raising or lowering them at pleasure. The narrow edge of the plank being in the line of the vessel's keel, presented but little resistance to the vessel's sailing, whilst the pressure of the water upon the broad surface of the keels tended to counterbalance the effect of the wind upon the sails, to depress the ship, and materially lessened the rolling, and also prevented the vessel going to leeward, as she must otherwise have done, owing to her extreme light draft of water. Although a favourable report was made of the invention, it was never very generally adopted, but it has since been made the subject of a patent, under a somewhat different form, by Moncrieffe Willoughby, Esq.
In his arrangement a sliding keel of iron, made very massive, is firmly attached to' strong perpendicular iron bars, which are made to slide up and down in watertight grooves made through the centre of the hull, thus permitting the keels to be projected to any required depth in the water, and to be drawn up at pleasure by means of a simple rack and pinion worked by a winch upon the deck. The sliding keel is further secured or supported by four chain stays, two on each side, which pass over the gunwales, and are tightened on board. Fig. 1 is a side elevation of a vessel fitted with a sliding keel on Mr. Willoughby's construction. Fig. 2 a cross section of the vessel, through one of the watertight trunks of which the suspending bars pass. Fig. 3 a cross section, exhibiting the guys or stays attached to the sliding keel. In Fig. 4 the ballast keel in front of the suspenders is cut off, for the purpose of preventing the collection of sea weeds, which would impede the vessel's sailing. The sketch of a patent ballast-keeled lugger under a press of sail requires no elucidation, except to remark that the portion below the boundary line of the water represents the keel under water. Lieut.
Shuldham's metallic sliding keel resembles the common lee board in its shape, and is shown in the annexed diagram, a represents the sliding keel lowered down into the water; the dotted line b the recess into which the keel is raised or deposited when not used; c the joint or fulcrum upon which it turns on being raised or lowered. One great objection to the plans of sliding keels is, their interfering with the keel and floor timbers, which must be cut through, thereby weakening the vessel; for instance, in Lieut. Shuldham's plan, the keel must be cut through longitudinally, or formed into two parts throughout nearly the whole length of the vessel, or at least through a portion as long as the sliding keel; they are also liable to be carried away, owing to the powerful leverage they afford to the water, and the difficulty of staying them sufficiently, without forming an obstruction to the speed of the vessel.
The annexed engraving represents a simple plan for preserving the tholes or rowing pins of a boat, the loss of which is not only teasing, but often productive of serious inconvenience. Fixed tholes cannot be well used when boats are to be hoisted in alongside, as they are subject to be broken; they are also often inconvenient in getting in water casks, as well as in many other cases. Hence pins which can be unshipped are preferred; these are often lost, and the want is not always discovered until it cannot be replaced; or it is not replaced without a loss of that time which is so valuable at sea. Very often, also, the delay of a minute is rendered inconvenient or even dangerous when the boat is dragging alongside by the painter in a heavy sea, and the vessel is either drifting or standing on. The drawing requires little explanation. By pulling at the lower pin the two upper ones are fixed at once, and on being unshipped they hang secure from loss, while the lower one serves as a spare thole should any be broken.
Before we close this article we must briefly notice Mr. Clint's ballasted masts for small sailing vessels, the object of which invention is to enable the boat constantly to retain an upright position, the mast alone yielding to the force of the wind. Fig. 1 is a section of the vessel, and Fig. 2 a plan of the same, a represents the hull of the vessel; b an oblong caisson of a semicircular section, suspended at each end upon pivots in the deck beams, at the point c. The mast is stepped in a trunk in this caisson, and secured by shrouds brought down to the sides of the caisson, and by a fore-stay proceeding to the stern of the vessel, and by a back-stay to the stern. The ballast is placed evenly in the bottom of the caisson. Among the advantages claimed by Mr. Clint for this construction are, first, perfect safety, as he considers it impossible a vessel can ever capsize. Secondly, the vessel being always upright, is constantly on what are termed her lines, and is always in trim, whereby she will sail faster and go better to windward j and lastly, that the ballast being suspended in air, is of more effect than ballast placed in the bottom, which latter being identified with the vessel in the water, loses as much of its weight as is equivalent to its bulk of water, whilst the suspended ballast retaining its whole weight, a smaller quantity will be required to steady the mast, and the vessel itself requiring none, a great degree of buoyancy is obtained.
Mr. Clint constructed a small vessel on this principle, and made a regular series of experiments during the summer of 1825, in presence of a number of scientific persons, and officers and seamen of the navy, some of whom accompanied him to Gravesend, when it blew fresh; and from the great satisfaction given by its performances, the Society of Arts voted Mr. Clint their large medal, or twenty guineas. This invention is only intended for such vessels as are not employed in carrying cargoes, of which class are revenue cutters, pleasure yachts, etc.; nor is it intended for vessels above seventy tons, which may have the box decked in.