How were ships & boats brought into & out of water throughout history?

Oct 2017
339
America ??
Btw I’m thinking more of pre-industrial history, since the industrial revolution can be thought of as the beginning of machine takeover & end of muscle power, but am not excluding anywhere in history & hoping to include as all of history in general.
 

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,653
San Diego
Unfortunately the wikipedia doesn’t have a history of it.

It’s quite hard to imagine how large ships could use slipways, wouldn’t they be extremely heavy & bulky, & how would they be pulled? & the article says that large vessels would be too large to be pulled back onto slipways from water.

As usual, being able to visualize is very important to understanding effectively.
Slipways require NO pulling at all. Just gravity- and grease. The larger and heavier the ship- the faster it will slide down the slipway- so much so that as ships got bigger they literally had to attach ropes and chains to try and SLOW DOWN the ship so it would not hit the water so fast as to damage it.

The ship is built on shoring that is held above the slipway by large wedges. When ready for launch- you simply knock the wedges out and the ship and its shoring are lowered a few inches to the slipway- which had been greased prior to launch.
The ship slides down the slipway- the shoring cradle, if any- is built to be heavier than water and so it slides down the ramp and the ship lifts out of the shoring as it floats.

When people opine that it was "hard" for Egyptians to build the pyramids because of the trouble of moving 2 ton blocks of stone... they really need to watch videos of ship launches to see how easily hundreds and thousands of tons slides along a ramp that is properly prepared.

running 2 ton rocks up a ramp on oiled sledges is child's play.

Moving heavy things is not hard- it just takes some experience and a basic understanding of the forces involved.
 
Mar 2019
1,954
Kansas
Btw I’m thinking more of pre-industrial history, since the industrial revolution can be thought of as the beginning of machine takeover & end of muscle power, but am not excluding anywhere in history & hoping to include as all of history in general.
Nothing has changed. Still the same process. Build the ship, grease the slipway, knock away the chocks. Gravity!!!!
 
Mar 2019
1,954
Kansas
When people opine that it was "hard" for Egyptians to build the pyramids because of the trouble of moving 2 ton blocks of stone... they really need to watch videos of ship launches to see how easily hundreds and thousands of tons slides along a ramp that is properly prepared.
I saw a lecture where the professor said the only reason Egyptians moved 10 ton rocks was because they never figured out how to move 20 ton rocks lol
 
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Oct 2017
339
America ??
Slipways require NO pulling at all. Just gravity- and grease. The larger and heavier the ship- the faster it will slide down the slipway- so much so that as ships got bigger they literally had to attach ropes and chains to try and SLOW DOWN the ship so it would not hit the water so fast as to damage it.

The ship is built on shoring that is held above the slipway by large wedges. When ready for launch- you simply knock the wedges out and the ship and its shoring are lowered a few inches to the slipway- which had been greased prior to launch.
The ship slides down the slipway- the shoring cradle, if any- is built to be heavier than water and so it slides down the ramp and the ship lifts out of the shoring as it floats.

When people opine that it was "hard" for Egyptians to build the pyramids because of the trouble of moving 2 ton blocks of stone... they really need to watch videos of ship launches to see how easily hundreds and thousands of tons slides along a ramp that is properly prepared.

running 2 ton rocks up a ramp on oiled sledges is child's play.

Moving heavy things is not hard- it just takes some experience and a basic understanding of the forces involved.
Nothing has changed. Still the same process. Build the ship, grease the slipway, knock away the chocks. Gravity!!!!
Can you guys explain what you mean by the terms “shoring”, “wedges”, & “chocks”? I’m not familiar with those terms! What exactly are they?

Nothing has changed? Nowadays there seems to be all kinds of ways to get vessels into water. I’d imagine slipways would have been the only ways to get large ships into water before the industrial revolution.

One important thing I’m wondering is; if many ships’ & boat’s hulls are supposed to be long & narrow for stability & easy maneuvering, how were they supposed to be able to slide down slipways without tipping over?

It looks like some vessels were rolled out to water & onto shore on logs! Do you know whether this would have been possible for large vessels?

Were you guys envisioning images & scenes like these? Look for the slipways & chocks in particular in the images:
 

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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,760
Cornwall
2 things come to mind.

1) Ildefonso Falcones gives an account of the War of the 2 Pedros in his 'La Catedral del Mar' - the ships of Aragon were pulled up manually onto the beach at Barcelona as there was no port in those days.
2) Prior to the Corinth Canal I think they used to drag ships overland on rollers. Didn't Dragut the pirate do something similar to escape from Andrea Doria across the Isle of Djerba?