DESCRIPTION: "Uncle Josiah and old Uncle Sam, they built them a sloop in the shape of a clam." The sloop is finished and launched but they find that they can't sail her. After much trouble they get the boat moored and swear they won't build any more.
EARLIEST DATE: 1945 (Harlow)
KEYWORDS: ship humorous
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Harlow, pp. 191-192, "Nantucket P'int" (1 text)
NOTES [228 words]: The idea of a ship in the shape of a clam (which I assume means relatively circular and with a smooth, shallow bottom) isn't as ridiculous as it sounds. It has been done -- admittedly with mixed success. In the 1870s, the Russian admiral Andrei Aleksandrovic Popov designed the "Popovkas" (or "Popoffkas") -- battleships (eventually named the Novgorod and Admiral Popov) with circular hulls for maximum stability as gun platforms. Paine, p. 424, says they worked well enough, but Humble, p. 41, reports they could only be steered into a current: "They spun like tops when coming downstream and their decks were flooded by the slightest seaway."
A later vessel, elliptical rather than actually circular, proved better. Fritdjov Nansen's Fram, built in the early 1890s, was designed for polar exploration; Nansen and Sverdrup used her to make what amounted to a Northeast Passage (see, e.g., Berton, pp. 489-498, especially p. 495), and Amundsen later took her to the Antarctic. But the honest truth was, she wasn't much good for ordinary sailing; her round sides and rounded bottom were designed to keep her from being crushed by ice, and made her very slow (her top speed under steam, according to Paine, p. 190, was seven knots) and almost useless for other tasks. She ended up in a museum, but it appears no other ships like her were ever ever constructed. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
- Berton: Pierre Berton, The Arctic Grail:The Quest for the north West Passage and the NorthPole, 1818-1909, Viking, 1988
- Humble: Richard Humble, Battleships and Battlecruisers, Chartwell, 1983
- Paine: Lincoln P. Paine, Ships of the World: An Historical Encylopedia, Houghton Mifflin, 1997
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