Chapter 74 Shipbuilding Project
“What? Why aren’t we able to afford to buy it?” Roland asked while going through the analysis of his request to obtain a two masted ship, which had been put on the table within his office.
Barov cleared his throat and then he explained, “Your Highness, it’s impossible. A brig costs between 80 to 120 gold royals, but this would only be the manufacturing cost. We also have to take into account the wages of the crew. Taking all additional costs into consideration we would need to pay up to 200 gold royals. “
“Didn’t I say we don’t need sailors or a helmsman? We also don’t need a captain; we just need to buy a boat!” Roland exclaimed while knocking on the table to underline his point. With the help of Wendy, he wouldn’t need so many people to drive the boat. River sailing vessels mostly sailed in only one direction. So, to operate it, only the sails had to be set, which made helmsmen and sailors redundant. However, since we can control the wind, why should I be afraid that we can’t move forward?
“Your Highness, there aren’t any offers of that kind, at least not in Willow Town.” Barov carefully explained, “It seems that you don’t know enough about this industry. In general, the owner of the ship is also its captain. He might be a merchant or he may be part of the nobility. If they belong to the former group, they will travel between all of the major cities or towns that have a marina, to sell or buy goods. If they belong to the latter group, they would typically recruit a deputy captain who was looking for a boat. Employees won’t be paid on a monthly basis. Instead, their salary would be paid for one to three years all at once.”
“Most of the time, the boat and the crew are tied together. You intend to purchase a vessel from a captain, but without the crew he had already hired, so the salary he had already paid will be his loss. Even for a member of the aristocracy, 80 gold royals isn’t a small amount of money. After the trade with Willow Town at the beginning of the month, the town hall now has a balance of 315 gold royals, but if we spend half of it to buy a boat now, we won’t be able to pay the salaries of the militia.” The assistant minister explained without pause, but afterwards, he had to first take a big gulp of ale.
After thinking about what he had heard, Roland asked “You said most of the time …”
“Yes,” Barov nodded, “There are two cases when boats will be sold without their crew. The first would be when the merchant is in an urgent need of money, and they have to sell all of their property. They will start by disbanding their crew, and then they will try to sell the ship as quickly as possible. In the second case, the owner wants to replace their old boat with a new one. Both cases would be a good opportunity, but I have to say that this kind of situations is very rare.”
“Wait,” Roland frowned, “you said to buy a new boat … So in this case, where do these ships come from?”
“Port of Clearwater, Seabreeze District, Farsight Point. Only cities with a seaport that have a dock are able to produce new ships.”
Hearing this Roland kept silent for a moment and thought everything through. So this was the original meaning of, “within Willow Town, it’s impossible to find such a deal.” However, I also can’t afford to travel to any of the port cities; they’re too far away, and if I don’t hire a crew, how would I get the ship back to Border Town?
“Since this is the case, I will have to think about it.”
When the assistant minister saw that the Prince was lost in thought, he quickly left the room.
Within Roland’s plan for the future, ships played an irreplaceable part. If there wasn’t a quick and conventional way to transport the artillery, he wouldn’t be able to use them in battle. Generally, the Duke’s troops were built up from the stronghold’s troops, mercenaries, farmers and knights. So, inevitably their marching speed was slow when they had to move.
But, the artillery would be even slower. Just like Carter had said, as soon as they hit a pothole the artillery couldn’t be moved any further– during this time and age, there weren’t any asphalt roads, there wasn’t even a stone road. During this time, the people would walk more, producing many trails. During sunny days they would be lucky, but when it rained, the path became muddy.
In the end, like always, would he have to rely on himself?
Roland spread out a piece of paper, writing down the needed specifications.
Firstly, the ship has to be able to carry one or two cannons in addition to thirty people, but it wouldn’t be powered mechanically, only with sails.
Secondly, since the ship would be used only in rivers, it would need to have a shallow and stable hull.
Thirdly, it had to be easy to operate so that the members of the Militia could handle it after a short training.
Considering all these points, the only possible answer was a flat-bottomed barge …
The draft in front of Roland was very shallow; it was a ship with a very low center of gravity that could be seen on almost all of the river routes. In the past, he had seen many loaded with piles of sand or gravel, and their railing was almost level with the surface of the water. And as long as there was a tugboat, it would be able to pull a barge.
After determining type of the ship, the next key point was to determine which material should be used when building the ship.
Roland wrote down three different options: Wood, Iron, or conrete.
Boats made of wood belonged to the earliest of the nautical technology tree. From a raft to a masted battleship. From sailing on either the river or the sea, wooden boats could be used everywhere. Unfortunately, Roland didn’t know how to use a log to build a flat-bottomed ship, and neither did he have any skilled craftsmen. If he relied on what he knew and on his craftsmen, he would only be able to make a large raft which could fall apart at any moment.
Ships made out of iron were built similarly to houses, always taking two beams which were arranged in a crisscross pattern, constituting a keel. The keel formed would then be coated with sheets of iron. Since Anna could do the welding; the overall stiffness was guaranteed. However, this approach would deplete the already small iron reserves. So this could only be the last resort, as building steam engines and cannons was a much more appropriate choice.
Then building boats out of concrete would be the last option – since the city wall construction was already finished, there was now a surplus of raw materials. As long as Anna had the time to calcinate, they would have enough concrete for one or two ships. The construction process would also be much easier than that of iron-boats. As long as they were able to produce a wooden template which could be reinforced with iron bars, they could quickly fill it with concrete. Even in this rural area, they could easily create several fishing boats out of concrete. Compared to iron ships, they wouldn’t rust. With this, the ship wouldn’t even need much maintenance. Even though a concrete ship could be built at a low cost, it would still be strong and durable. Even if he had never learned how to make big ocean-crossing ships, a river sailing ship didn’t need a high level of technological knowledge. So, building it shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Picturing all the details in his mind, Roland picked up the quill and rapidly began to draw sketches of the barge.
An area with a shed near the Shinshui River was hidden by walls.
In order to facilitate the launching process, Roland located the shipbuilding area as close to the river as possible.
The shed offered shelter against wind and snow and contained two basins for burning charcoal to keep the temperature from falling too far and destroying the hardening effect.
The carpenters had already pieced together the wooden template of the hull – the bow was formed in a circular design in order to reduce forward resistance, the aft instead had a square design meant to increase the load area. The boat had a length to width ratio of 3:1 and was built with a width of 8m. Compared to the traditional ratio of 8:1, it was simply a fat boat. In the center, they had set up two masts. The masts were inserted into the deck and connected to the iron beams of the ship. At the deck, they had placed a reserve rudder. Everywhere, the hull was strengthened with crisscrossing iron bars.
Even though they didn’t have any iron wire, it didn’t matter since Anna had welded all the iron crosses firmly, to form an iron structure which was connected throughout the whole bridge.
When the template and the reinforcements were ready, Roland ordered the workers to start filling it up.
The concrete was poured into a basin-like template. The middle was flat, but the surrounding walls were five meters higher, forming the cabin walls. At first glance, it just looked like a uniquely shaped bathtub.
All people who were involved in the construction, including Anna, had never thought that this strange material, which was used to build the walls, could actually also be used to build ships.
Information to Concrete Ships
This information I wanted to give to you for a long time. Why is it realistic that the MC can invent concrete? When you click on the link, you will discover that concrete was a lost technology during the middle age.