PART III Internal structures and functions
A caravel is among the first seafaring ships that is purely built around the keel. It runs from the stern to the bow and acts as the “spine” of the ship. From there, the frame is constructed, forming the “rips” of the ship. The planks are then placed upon the frame and make up the outer hull of the caravel. In order to make them impervious to water, the gaps in-between the planks are filled with tar; that is called caulking. Caravels use carvel built planks, meaning that the planks touch each other edge to edge as opposed to the clinker-building technique. carvel built planking means that caravels are be able to carry more weight for their size but at the cost of needing more caulking and more often. The decks are within this frame.
Compared to frigates of the 18th and 19th century, the caravel featured a very shallow keel making it possible for these ships to sail up rivers and get their cargo directly into cities along those rivers.
Under the lower deck, also called the orlop deck, there is the bilge. It is the coolest part of the ship and is filled with sand and stones in order to balance the caravel. From time to time, sand and stones need to be replaced in order to eliminate the gained weight of the soaked water.
The orlop deck is partially under water and has various functions. Normally, there are cargo holds and the sleeping places of the crew. It can be reached via ladderways. Later caravels of the 17th and 18th century feature some small separated areas for junior officers.
There is no gun-deck on a caravel. All cannons must be located on the weather deck as the ship is not very tall. Gunports would make it vulnerable to heavy sea. The masts go all the way through the ship and are placed on the keel.
On a caravel, rigging is much more "primitive" than on later types of vessels. There are some hundred metres of running and standing rigging running through the entire ship. Running rigging on caravels is commonly moved by hand force. Capstans are not yet incorporated into the masts and are mainly used for additional operations like casting the anchor. Capstans are vertically rotating drums or barrels, mounted on wooden or iron axles. The ropes are put around or into the capstan and can be coiled on or off the capstan by the sailors. The grips that are put into the capstan can be removed in order to improve safety or to lock the mechanism inside. Capstans will usually be found on the weather deck.
The equipment, the cannons (if there are cannons) and the cargo of a sailing ship have to be carefully aligned through the ship in order to make it well balanced. The better the caravel is balanced, the better are her sailing characteristics. If a ship is overloaded or unbalanced, the ship could keel over or behave badly while under sails. Balancing a caravel is usually a lengthy procedure due to the nature of the individual neds of a mission.
Caravels (especially the early versions) would normally feature a tiller instead of a steering wheel. This lever would be directly attached to the rudder stock. It is located below the weather deck (in front of the the cabin) but normally features full view of the sea. The tiller can be operated by just one person during fair weather conditions, However, it offers enough space for up to 5 people that can change the course during heavy sea.
Edited by Horry, 26 August 2011 - 10:46 PM.