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From A Boat To A Ship: Sea Travel Before The 20th Century

By Anna Nadette

The concept of a boat to the Early Man was extremely primitive. A log floating downstream seemed like a transport to him. Obviously this form of transportation had no paddles to move around so hands were used for this purpose.

Later Man developed wooden paddles that were much better for moving about in water. Cavities were introduced to the logs as useful innovations. Much later simple sails were put on the log to have the wind assist the transport.

The sails later developed into huge and massive sails and integrated with bigger ships in the times of Egyptians and Romans. They used to have many men and slaves rowing these large ships. The Vikings put entertainment on ships such as men running on these moving oars on the outside of the ships while avoiding a fall in the water.

Mayflower is a historical seventeenth century ship that crossed the Atlantic. It weighed 180 tonnes and carried over a hundred passengers. A quarter of these passengers were Puritans who were settling in America.

Much later down the lane we come to steam boats. The first person who suggested steam as the driving source for ships was a Frenchman by the name of Salamon de Caus. It was in the year 1615.

There are myths about the development of the first steam boat. It is said that the first steam boat was built as early as the 18th century by a Frenchman Denys Papin. The legend has it that when the steam powered vessel was tested on River Fulda in Germany, it was captured and destroyed by the local fishermen who saw it as a threat to their livelihood.

In 1772 the process of development of the steamboat had another setback. Le Comte Joseph d’Auxiron and Le Chevalier Charles Monnin de Eollenai launched the steamboat on River Seine. It is said that the weight of the engine in the vessel was too great so the ship drowned.

By the 18th century, the East India Company had powerful merchant ships. They were designed to carry tea harvest from China to Europe quickly. One of the most famous ships in this fleet is the Cutty Sark, built in 1869. It is open for visitors in Greenwich, London.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Nadette, Anna "From A Boat To A Ship: Sea Travel Before The 20th Century." From A Boat To A Ship: Sea Travel Before The 20th Century. 22 Aug. 2010. 19 Nov 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Nadette, A (2010, August 22). From A Boat To A Ship: Sea Travel Before The 20th Century. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Nadette, Anna "From A Boat To A Ship: Sea Travel Before The 20th Century"

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