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18th Century Fishing Boat

The 18th century fishing boat was different than the naval boats and exploration ships of that time period. After nearly 10 years of war, England decided to rebuild while the French decided to guard what strength they had in the fishing market.

18th Century Fishing Boat

An 18th century fishing boat was a smaller ship, but still had to be large enough to accommodate large hauls of fish as well as accommodation for a crew. A normal crew typically consisted of six members, but depending on the length of the journey and type of fish the boat was commissioned for, the number of crew could increase or decrease.

Many of the medium-sized fishing boats from the 1700s consisted of one main sail and a minor sail, a large cabin that four to six crew members could occupy comfortably, and a minimal set of weapons: one or two cannons and a small cache of hand weapons. The weapons served as protection against pirates and other thieves of the day. The storage areas of an 18th century fishing boat, especially for ships commissioned by fisheries, were large enough to store fish for weeks-long fishing trips.

One of the more popular types of fishing boat of the 18th century in Europe was a buss. This was a very large ship with two or three masts and weighed anywhere from 180 to 220 tons. A buss was a popular fishing vessel with fisheries that focused on herring.

A smaller boat made by the Dutch, the dogger, was the brother of the ketch, which happened to be a battle ship. The dogger usually had two masts with a long forward shaft for control. The storage of the boat was shallow to allow for easy fish removal in ports. The typical dogger weighed about 100 tons.

Subtle Changes

As the 18th century went on and the needs of different countries and new settlements changed, the structure of boats also changed. One of the biggest drivers of change was the exploration of the New World. Waters and types of fish were different and the boats of the English weren’t acceptable. For example, many of the waters along the east coast of America were shallower further out from land. This caused fishing boats to have thinner hulls and less living space because the ships didn’t sail too far from land and could zip back into port, unload the fish, and return to the waters pretty efficiently.

A unique innovation involved the ships used to harvest oysters. In the late 1700s, Indian canoes were found perfect for this task and colonists added masts and sails to make maneuvering in the shallow waters easier.

Fishing boats of America versus England soon became vastly different in size and even durability. Many of the English boats were made of ash and other native woods not usually found in America. The ships of America were built from live oak and cedar, which made them extremely resistant to insects and even moisture, thereby reducing warping.

Renting Fishing Boats

Did you know it’s possible to rent replicas of fishing boats from 18th century?

  • Privateer Media, is based just south of New York City, but has a large network of resources all along the east coast and the shores of Canada. They’ve even supplied many antique vessels to film productions. The ships are privately-owned, usually from ship experts or enthusiasts, and are in excellent condition. You won’t have to power the ships by hand because the replicas are built with a motor spot if you want to add the accessory in.
  • Halls Boat, specializes in antique boat restoration, especially with wooden boats. They have a huge network of boating enthusiasts who have years of experience. One of the best links you’ll find on the site, if you are looking for antique boats, is the boat manufacturers section under the “Boat House” tab.