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Bay of Plenty II

Saturday, 11 December 2010

History of the World in 100 Objects


Boats are the single most important objects in the history of the world, bringing migrants, spreading civilisations, carrying goods, providing recreation, allowing fishermen to feed populations. The vikings perfected the northern method of clinker boat building, and the method has changed little if at all since. Clinker boats have been built, and are still being built, and are objects of great beauty in themselves. The method involved wrapping thin overlapping planks or strakes around temporary formers (moulds), which are removed when the shell is fully planked, which is then strengthened with oak ribs (called timbers), steamed to give suppleness. Copper rivets are used to fasten the planks together and the timbers to the planks. When gunwales and seats (thwarts) are added, this produces a light, flexible structure that withstands wave action. Moreover, as a clinker boat is simply a collection of individual pieces, all of which can be replaced (no glue is used), it is infinitely repairable. A clinker boat: practical, useful, beautiful and once ubiquitous. Now seen more often than not reverting to nature on a shoreline near you, and still beautiful in decay...

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