A History of Working Watercraft of the Western World

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International Marine, Jan 1, 1994 - Technology & Engineering - 276 pages
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A History of Working Watercraft of the Western World is the culmination of more than 50 years of research by Thomas C. Gillmer, a world-renowned designer of yachts and historic replica ships, and an internationally recognized authority on the history of naval architecture.
Aided by hundreds of rare photographs and the incomparable drawings of William Gilkerson and Tom Price, Gillmer documents the origins of European and North American workboats - humble craft whose history, lineage, and survival today provide important keys to understanding the emergence of Western Civilization.
Gillmer brings into focus nearly 5,000 years of workboat evolution, tracing the development of boatbuilding techniques and the civilizations that produced them. He begins with the sea-going boats of the Minoans and the old Norse, and then explores the growth of boatbuilding technology in the separately evolving maritime cultures of Northern Europe, the British Isles, the Mediterranean, the Iberian Peninsula, and North America.
When Working Watercraft was first published in 1972 it provided a historic record of these humble workboats that has yet to be equaled, and was hailed as "a book to treasure" by Nautical Magazine. Motor Boating & Sailing said "all of us owe Mr. Gillmer a debt of gratitude for his thoughtful record."
Since then, the body of maritime knowledge has expanded enormously, bringing new light to Gillmer's original research. Technological innovations have given underwater archaeologists new capabilities, allowing them to reach into depths that had been a secure vault of the unknown. One group has recently recovered a cargo ship that sank in the eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age - before Hercules was conceived or Ulysses sailed for Troy. Archaeologists revealed that the wooden hull had a keel - the center structural beam that did not exist in any contemporary Egyptian ships. And knowledge of Norse watercraft - limited before 1972 to only two ships - has been expanded greatly with the discovery of five ships in a Danish fjord near Roskilde.
A strong thread runs through the evolution of the West's maritime cultures; old methods of boatbuilding and design can still be seen in existing craft, but the thread is becoming frayed. Some of the existing craft Gillmer wrote about as recently as 1972 are now gone. Working Watercraft is a record of vanishing and vanished boats of historic significance - the story of Western Civilization as told by its everyday working craft.

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About the author (1994)

Thomas C. Gillmer is uniquely qualified to write this book. He is the designer of the replica ships "Pride of Baltimore, Pride of Baltimore II, Lady Maryland, Peggy Stewart, " a Norse expeditionary ship circa 1000 AD. Former professor of naval architecture and chairman of naval engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy, and author of Naval Academy textbooks on naval architecture and ship design, Professor Gillmer was chosen by the Navy to conduct a structural study of "Constitution", and to plan how she might be restored to her former glory. He is also one of the premier yacht designers of the age, and hundreds of his beautiful designs sail the world, including the Allied Seawing ketch. He lives on Spa Creek in Annapolis, Maryland.

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