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The Age of Discovery was one of the turning points in the history of mankind. Just a few decades, the world known to man border unprecedented parted. The Europeans came into contact with distant, unknown to them before the people, opened a lot of new lands, their maps were unknown before the continents and oceans. It is clear that the great geographical discoveries were caused by a wide variety of political, social and economic reasons. However, the important role played here and the outstanding technical achievements of the Middle Ages in the nautical business. To sailors could venture on a distant expedition, they should have at their disposal the best-selling, solid and capacious vehicles. It is known that such was the caravel ship, whose very name became synonymous with the era of geographical discoveries. All outstanding expedition this time: Columbus voyage across the Atlantic Ocean (since 1492), the journey of Vasco da Gama around Africa and across the Indian Ocean (in 1497-1498 gg.), Swimming Cabral (1500) and Amerigo Vespucci ( in 1498-1502 gg.), as well as unprecedented world tour Magellan (in 1519-1522 gg.) were committed to the caravels. These ships as it absorbed all the best that have managed to accumulate over the preceding century, the art of shipbuilding and ship navigation.
Comparing the model ships beginning and the end of the Middle Ages, one can immediately notice the main difference between them: if at the end of antiquity, the ship was mainly oar and sail only played a supporting role in the beginning of the new ship was sailing time exclusively and completely lost the oars. Over the development and improvement of the sailing ship weapons creative thought medieval craftsmen worked primarily. (This, however, does not mean that large rowing boats - the galley - disappeared completely No, galleys were widely used (mainly as warships) in the first quarter of the XVIII century, but structurally they are very little different from those samples that were. created in antiquity.)

The first change in the Mediterranean sailing ships armed with regard to the form of the sails: the place of the widespread in the old days, rectangular or triangular came slanting sail. This sail, called "Latin" was borrowed by Europeans from the Arabs. However, the Arabs themselves were hardly of its inventors, since ancient times been used oblique sail sailors of the Indian Ocean. First, when armed with a triangular sail ship front end of the yard to catch up with the stem (the bow); Rey was attached to the mast in the lower one-third and not at right angles, but obliquely. The angle of tilt yard, depending on the strength and direction of the wind could be changed. Later abandoned, and from the long sloping yard and steel up on the short mast gaff lift (special yard, strengthens the pan at the back of the mast (behind her) and climb up the mast). By gaff upper leech fastened oblique sails. Using oblique sails immediately facilitate control of the ship, as he felt the blow even the lightest breeze. The second change concerns the number of sails. Already in late antiquity, in addition to the main mast sail, a second mast with a sail bow - Artemon. The invention Artemon was a major step forward in the nautical business, because thanks to him the opportunity to go not only in passing, but with a side wind that used to be quite impossible. However, two of these improvements could not seriously affect the construction of ships. The well-known since ancient times galley continued to be the main type of vessel throughout the early Middle Ages.

The following important changes have occurred in the shipbuilding industry in the era of the Crusades. At this time began the rapid flowering Mediterranean and Baltic trade. Keep ships with a large number of rowers became unprofitable. Merchants are increasingly favored sailing ships. The main types of cargo ships in the XII-XIV became the nave and the SBPC, the SBPC was used in the north of the Baltic peoples, and the nave in the south - the peoples of the Mediterranean. And the aisles, and SBPC were very spacious courts. Their appearance was the beginning of the transition from rowing-sailing ships to sail cleanly.

Rig nave quickly perfected. First, the front mast with Artemon replaced strongly tilted towards the bow timbers, acting ahead of the stem - bowsprit, and on both - fore and main masts - staged triangular sails. Since the increase speed of the vessel could be primarily due to the increase in the total area of ​​the sails, for the placement of additional sails in the XIV century, we began to establish first two, then three, and even four masts. On two-masted ship was put in the middle of the front mast of the ship and had a height of about the length of the keel and the back was on the aft end of the keel. Each mast supplied Raked triangular sail. the front yards of the mast length equal to the length of the keel on the back of it was shorter. Installing the aft mast led to a decrease in water pressure in the wheel that occurs when felting vessel under the influence of the nose of the sail. This vessel became more maneuverable.

Meanwhile, square sail continued to be used in northern Europe. Serve with a large sail surface was difficult. Gradually lengthen the main sail steel bottom. At the same time there were reefs - ties, Threaded through the sail, by which it was possible to change the sail area (it to reef). The competition between direct and oblique sail ended up in the end, the fact that steel use both sails as a square sail was irreplaceable at strong fair winds, and the second - well take the weak side and headwinds. The combination of direct and oblique sails was achieved both high speed and good maneuverability. Various rig concept joined in the type three-masted nave. Its front mast - the foremast - carried a square sail, the area which was only a third of the surface of the grotto - direct sail to the second, the mainmast. The third was the mizzen-mast, yardarm oblique bearing on the sail, called as mast, mizzen. (On the four-masted ship called benaventur rear mast-mast and also carried a Latin sail.) This inventory allows larger sails - mainsail - to bring the ship into motion. Due to wind energy using smaller sails could maneuver. Such three-masted ships were distributed already in the XII century.

In the second half of the XV century split sails it was carried out. Above the grotto set smaller sail - Marseille. Replacing one of the sail to reduce some risk to the vessel during the storm and made it easier to manage. Smaller in volume sails could manage for a smaller number of crew. A further innovation in sailing was armed Blind-sail over the bowsprit. With the increase in rig to the mast had a significant load, so they began to strengthen the sides of special gear - guys and lowers. In the second half of the XV century guys were equipped ratlin, which began to carry out the role of rope ladders, fortified between the guys.

The art of navigation with a head and crosswind was disbursed at the beginning of the early Middle Ages. With the help of sheets - ropes attached to the lower edge of the sail, pulled one or the other end of the sail, turned it, and the wind blew the ship in the right direction. When the wind was in the stern, he was struck in the sails perpendicular to and acted on them with full force. In this case the ship sails across the set. If the wind is not exactly coincide with the ship's course, blow back, but slightly angled sails left in the same position (across the ship). In this case, the force of the wind blowing actually splits into two - one acting perpendicular to the sail, as in the first case and move the boat forward, the other - to slide along the sail and therefore did not act on it. The steeper it was the wind direction to the course of the ship, the smaller the component, move the ship forward. In that case, when the wind was blowing directly into the side of the ship, that is, perpendicular to the course of the vessel, sails unfurled several plane into the wind so that it was with him an acute angle. Then the force of the wind again decomposed into two components: one ship was moving forward, while the other acted ship. But now the transverse component is necessary not only to the hull, but also on the sails. If the ship had a circular shape, he would always move in the direction of a right angle to the sails, but as the hull has been elongated, then move forward and sideways movement were far from equal. The resistance movement of the side was much more than a movement forward, due to the large length of the submarine, and the resistance movement forward was very small. Therefore, the ship is much more moving in the right direction than demolishing (drifted) to the side. Thus, turning the sail against the wind, it could go in the right direction, not only at the side, but also, to a certain point, a side headwind. If the wind was blowing almost directly toward or vessel to decompose the wind way because of strong lateral component was no longer possible as described above. In this case, the ship had to maneuver: the sails set so that the ship was moving it forward and to the left, forward and to the right, with the wind is right, then the left hand, and swam forward in a zigzag along the broken line, part of which consists of a more or less sharp angles to the direction of wind. At the same time it is still more progressed at the rate than deviate from it. From all this it becomes clear that the sail control at the end of the Middle Ages became large and complex art.

At the same time improving the sails went helm. For the first time in the aft part of the nave on both sides were short holes with wide blades of oars, which the ship was driven. In the XIII century we have developed a steering oar is not on the starboard side, and directly astern. It was a necessary measure. While there were only sailing with a fair wind, paddle board fully consistent with its purpose. But when the sailors mastered the technique of navigation with onboard winds, there were serious complications. Under the influence of these winds hull bent in the direction of wind load applications. If the boat heeling to port, steering oar out of the water, but if the right - oar, on the contrary, so deep in the water, that the pilot could not move him. Located behind the aft steering oar is not subjected to the action of pitching and properly perform its functions. Steering wheel, resembling a modern, first appeared at the beginning of the XIV century. It consisted of a blade or the pen is connected to the shaft on which the handle dressed - tiller. Tiller was placed perpendicular to the shaft at the height of the upper deck. First, the wheel turned directly to the tiller. Subsequently, it was invented by a steering wheel, which is wound onto a reel the cables attached to the tiller. Through the use of gearing significantly facilitate efforts by the rudder.

For many centuries, the ship's planking fastened overlap each other. By the end of the XIV century in the Mediterranean began to use carvel planking when sheathing boards belt adjoined to each other side faces flush. Such an assembly method has reduced the resistance of the hull when moving in the water. In addition, it was easier to ensure tightness of joints and fastened cladding boards to the frames. After Portugal and Spain, this method became known in France, and in the middle of the XV century it borrowed from Breton Dutch shipbuilders. In 1459, the first ship of a similar design appeared in the Baltic Sea. In England the court carvel-built steel building only from the beginning of the XVI century. All ships with sheathing fastening colloquially became known as "caravels" from the Italian cara bella ( «beautiful form").

We can conclude that the caravel as a special type of vessels (like a schooner, bark or frigate) in the strict sense of the word has never existed. This notion has always been somewhat blurry. Until the XV century caravels were called small undecked vessels. In the days of Columbus, they were much larger. Caravel, among other things, could christen the nave, if he had a smooth lining. Apparently, that's right, and it was with the most famous caravel - the flagship of Columbus 'Santa Maria', which itself admiral called nao (nave). According to the Panthers, Panther, caravel - "very easy and best-selling boat. It is relatively small, has four masts ... "At the same time, the caravel was very sturdy and spacious boat. Typical for the caravels were high side deflection in deep deck amidships and a great rig. At first they put the sails exclusively Latin, but in the time of Columbus's becoming more common to get started straight sail with a fair wind that allowed to reach higher speeds. Choosing the court for his first expedition, Columbus caravel deliberately chose, although he could find ships larger. "Santa Maria" was a displacement of about 130 tons. The height of the main mast was 28 meters. She carried four sails: jib, mainsail, mizzen and Blind. Two other Columbus ship - "Pinta" and "Nina" were caravels small tonnage, the number of ships providing coastal transport. Later Columbus ships served as a model for other researchers who went to unknown lands. As they began to build the model of many similar vessels intended primarily for ocean voyages and the discovery of new lands.

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