About plans

About plans

Nowadays drawings are a requirement to build a commercial ship. This wasn't always the case but in the 18th century the first naval engineers, now referred to as Naval Architects started devising tools & procedures to initially represent & eventually completely design ships on paper. In 1768 Frederik Henrik af Chapman, a Swede with an English boat building father that spend time working at shipyards in England, the Netherlands & France engraved many curves in copperplates that could then be used to print ink on paper copies & be published. His Architectura Navalis Mercatoria offers a very interesting collection of line drawings describing various general large to small North European commercial sailing & oar powered vessels.

Architectura Navalis Mercatoria - F.H. Chapman

It is quite clear that Chapman must have taken the lines of most of the craft in this collection while working at the various shipyards in the leading seafaring nations & while doing so greatly improved his understanding of ship design. He designed & build many successful vessels for the Swedish Royal & Merchant Navy that did not appear in any of his publications.

Chapman - Skonert

In the 19th Century the USA became the leading nation in ship design & luckily many ship plans of this period are still available. Ship Builders like Donald McKay, Boston & William H. Webb, NY became famous for their fast clipper ship designs.

Clipper Oriental - 1849

During the 19th and first decades of the 20th Century the improvements in ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) efficiency & reliability eventually made sailing vessels uncompetitive simply because increasing engine power allowed for pushing much less efficient hull shapes at competitive speeds &  the less efficient hulls allowing for taking more cargo.

Sailing Vessel - George Law

It would be very interesting to see how a clipper type hull shape like the Side Wheel Steamer "George Law" fitted with a modern rig would perform in the 21th Century. At least there's weather forecasts now that can even be received in the middle of the ocean. In the 19th Century they probably didn't even dream about this one day being possible.