The author I mentioned in my last post, wrote another article in the same periodical half a year later; in 1987. This time he presents the model he made of Witsen's pinas. He had taken Witsen's co-ordinates and had succeeded in transforming them into a 'body plan'. Here it is:
Notice the two lines that mark the chine.
The author then explains that it took him three years to build the model and: "Though I would very much like to have done so, it was not possible to build the model in the same way as the original, so I had to build the frames first and plank them later." This of course makes clear that the chine was 'designed in', and was not a result of the building method used to build the model.
That it is possible to build a model with the bottom first method, is shown in the small book that was written by Ton Pronker. He describes how Captain J. Horjus built his model of Geelvinck. Here are two pages from that booklet:
Captain Horjus, while working with the bottom first method, arrived at a round transition between bottom and bilge: no chine.
In 1988 our man held a lecture at a symposium. There he presented what he had learned while building two models of the same vessel, a 'pleasure vessel'. The two building methods were: building according to the method of Witsen, the bottom base method, and building according to the method of Van Yk, the frame first method. One of the conclusions from this interesting experiment:
"Once both hulls have been planked, they differ only slightly on the outside. Partly this is caused by the graceful lines of the model of the pleasure vessel. A ship with a flatter bottom would have shown a greater difference. The use of boeitangen caused a flat part of the bottom on both sides of the keel over a relatively long distance, without any curving. The transition to the vertical side of the ship happened in the bilge, so that a real brake could be seen. The flatter the bottom, the more visible the angles. With a bottom not so flat, as here, the transition between bottom and bilge was not so obvious."
So, while the test revealed that the difference between the two methods was actually negligible, the author claims that the difference would be greater if only it would have been another vessel. Instead of repeating the experiment with a more suitable hull shape, the author left it at this: a chine would be present while using Witsen's bottom based method. That's of course unsubstantiated evidence, and, as we've seen, Horjus has shown that when building a model of a ship with a flat bottom, while using the bottom based method, it is possible to arrive at a round shape. Exactly the opposite of what our man claims.
The author's lecture was presented in a guide published by the symposium in 1992. Ironically his piece was placed next to a piece that claimed exactly the opposite. A piece by Rob Oosting that presented the hull shape of the wreck of the E81 wreck. Here is the part of the lines plan of that wreck as published in the guide:
Look at the round shape of the hull: no chine.
And here is a part of the very interesting conclusions Oosting presented:
"second, the bottom strakes of the 17th-century merchantman were built up to the tenth strake before frames were inserted. Spiles give us the location of the cleats inside and outside the lower hull planking. Further research should give us more information about the building-method and sequence above the 10th strake."
So here we have archeaological evidence for round shapes in ships built with the bottom-first method: no chine. But we already found that in Vasa of course.
Still no answer, so I continue giving clues: clue number 4.
In 1994 our man published a book. In this book he included his reconstructed 'body plan' of the pinas, and his findings about building the pleasure vessel.
The body plan of the pinas, again, contained the two lines for indicating the transition of the bottom to the bilge; the chine. And that a chine was intended, can be read in the accompanying text: "Because the first bilge strake was at an angle with the bottom planking, the transition from bottom to turn was visible. This was most obvious on very flat-bottomed ships; on sharply rising floors it was hardly noticable. When a ship had a very wide and flat bottom, the outer most bottom strake was often canted a little so the ship would not be like a trough (67 I 29). Angular constructions underneath the waterline were not favored because they were vulnerable and could result in leakage."
So, although our author notices that Witsen says that chines should be avoided, he insists they were present.
Now let's turn to what our author says about his findings while building the pleasure vessel models. And please remember the first conclusion that was presented by the same author earlier, in 1988: when comparing the hull shapes that resulted from the two different building methods, no significant difference could be seen: "they differ only slightly on the outside". And here is the new conclusion of 1994: "All other features of the shell-first method were present - the nearly flat bottom, the angle in the bilges, and the relatively arbitrary length of the frame timbers, which remained unconnected to one another and were fastened only to the ceiling and planking; there were also traces of where the floor planks and bilge planks had been temporarily joined with chocks spiked in place."
Let's just say that the conclusion had 'evolved' into something else in the 4 years between 1988 and 1992. For some reason the chine was now clearly present. And, think of captain Horjus again, who arrived at a round hull while using the bottom first method of building.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the author was offered a job at a reputable museum after his presentation at the symposium of 1988. Which he accepted.
After publishing his magnum opus in 1994, our man published some more books about the ship reconstructions he had made since. In one of those books, the one from 2004, we can for example find: "In the Northern Dutch style, which is described by Witsen, the bottom and the first plank of the bilge form a distinct angle. The width of the bottom is therefore often indicated in the certers. ..., it is probable that the ship was a Northern Dutch product and therefore must have had an angle between the bottom and the bilge plank."
So here it is clearly claimed by our author: Witsen's building style generates ships with a chine. And the author even expands on his unfounded theory of the chine: when we find a certer with an indication of the width of the bottom, the ship has a chine. It's getting weirder and weirder. To be clear one more time: Witsen does not claim, nor describe, that the ships built by his method had a chine, or should have a chine; on the contrary.
In 2012 part of the man's magnum opus of 1994 was translated in English and published. This publication of course showed the body plan of the pinas, with the two lines indicating the chine, and the reconstruction of the pleasure vessel. Both were accompanied by the texts we've seen in the 1994 version. For the author, nothing had changed since 1994.
We are fast forwarding now, and go from 2012 to 2019 in a hurry. Our author keeps on publishing, and for example publishes two devastating pieces for Dutch heritage in 2013 and 2017. But since these have nothing to do with our main subject, I will skip those.
In 2019 our author decides to publish his findings with the building of the model of the pleasure vessel on a forum. The author explains that "this little pleasure vessel had changed my life forever", and that he finally got round to making a linesplan for it. He then shows this linesplan, but it is not finalised yet. But, it is clear that the vessel has a chine.
In 2020 the author publishes the finalised linesplan of the pleasure vessel on that same forum. Since the author explains that it is free to use for everybody, here it is:
It is clear from these computer drawings that, according to the author, the pleasure vessel had a chine. We've come a long way from the first conclusion of 1988, "they differ only slightly on the outside", to a very discernable chine.
Since the linesplan was for free use, a modeling company contacted the author for asking if they could use the linesplan for developing a new model kit. The author was ok with this, and now we can by a model kit of a pleasure vessel, with a chine.
We can only imagine what Witsen would have thought.
I hope you do not mind I used my reponses to your contributions as a way of ventilating my dislike with the whole situation that has evolved around this chine-myth. It really starts to piss me off that we have to have this discussion over and over again without there ever being produced any evidence for stating that Witsen's building method leads to hulls with chines. I hope my 'clues' explain where I am coming from, what built my frustration.
But the thing that really pissed me of, were not your posts, but the things that happened on another forum while we were discussing your posts. Let me explain.
In february 2021, last month, Ab Hoving posted that he had "made new plans, based on a statenjacht and with an interior that seemed useful for the ship". Subsequently he posted a hand sketch of how he thought this 'statenjacht' had to look. Here is his handsketch:
It is clear, the bottom is straight and the transition between the bottom and the bilge is not round, it has a distinct angle, it has Hoving's trademark: the chine. But, have a close look at the bottom-bilge transition in this sketch: mister Hoving started of with a round shape, erased that, and replaced it with the chine.
Then mister Hoving explains how he gave his sketch to his friend mister Hendrickx, and let him make the computer drawing of the linesplan. Here is a part of that drawing:
Notice that the chine is no longer there, the transition from bottom to bilge has a curve to it now.
This change has not gone unnoticed, and a forum member decides to ask mister Hoving a question about it: "I have a question about the drawings you are showing. In your first sketch of the lines plan, it shows a fairly sharp edge going from the bottom towards the bilge. I understand from your book on Witsen that this is the result of the building method/tools of that time. However, in Rene's drawing this sharp edge has become a short radius turn. As I am currently designing a statenjacht based on a contract, I am very interested to understand what shape I should aim for."
And here is mister Hoving's reply to that, very intelligent, question: "In case the bottom is not entirely flat, like in fluits, the transfer from bottom to bilge is not so very pronounced. On top of that, computerprograms hate corners in a hull. As you can see in my original design the straight bottom is there. In Delftship it is gone. In this case of a yacht-like ship I did not mind too much. Good luck with your project."
It is clear, the chine should have been there, but the computer programm could not handle it. That is certainly a strange argument because this thread, which was started back in 2019, contains the presentation of the lines plan of the 'pleasure vessel', which, as we've seen, has a chine! So it is certainly possible to draw chines with Delftship, but mister Hoving "did not mind so much" this time.
But, the asker of the question is satisfied with mister Hoving's answer, and says: "Thanks Ab. For the time being I will aim for the pronounced, as the bottom is rather flat (1,5 inch rise over 16 feet). I may end up losing it either in the software or when building POB style. Interesting challenges with scratch building even before cutting wood!"
And another forum member joins in and says: "Ab, Your work, both model making and your scholarship, is wonderful! The extent to which hull shape and hull structure is affected by construction technique is a sadly neglected subject. The idea that all wooden ships were built from a draught, with lofted regularly spaced frames seems to be a myth that won't die. ...".
Mister Hoving did not reply to this anymore.
Now why does this bother me so much? What we see here is that mister Hoving is knowingly and willfully pushing people into the wrong direction, the direction of the chine, while he knows, or should know, that there is a very good technical drawing of a 'statenjacht' in Witsen's book of 1671. Here it is:
It is the technical drawing of the yacht that was built for the Swedish king in 1669 by Hooghsaet. And the drawing shows that the bottom-bilge transition is round, there is no chine.
It is very unlikely that mister Hoving does not know about this drawing, because he included it is in his book of 1994. Here is the page from the book that shows Witsen's drawing of the 'statenjacht', and another drawing of a 'statenjacht':
Why didn't mister Hoving inform his fellow forum member about the existence of this very good, genuine, well provenanced, seventeenth century construction drawing of a 'statenjacht'? Even when the forum member asks explicitly for information about the shape of the bottom-bilge transition, mister Hoving does not mention this drawing.
I have a strong inclination to thinking that mister Hoving did not mention the 'statenjacht'-drawing from Witsen's work deliberately. He did not want to mention this drawing, because this drawing not only clearly shows that there was no chine, it also shows very clearly that the shipwrights from Amsterdam, working according to Witsen's bottom based method, were capable of building hulls with round bottom-bilge transitions. So, by publishing this drawing, mister Hoving would not only destroy his carefully constructed 'chine'-myth, but also his carefully constructed 'building method decides design'-myth. And maybe even a third myth that has been created by mister Hoving can be added to that list: 'the shipwrights did not use drawings for their designs'-myth.
So, dear Philemon, I am sorry that I packed all this frustration into the answers to your posts. I hope you understand why now.
I had to attend my business the last few weeks. We are working again after a lockdown of nearly three months. This explains my absence. Nevertheless, the discussion went on in my mind and this is the fruit of this ‘internal discussion’. I would like to get back to the very basics of this discussion. When you say the three mentioned wreckfinds are proof for a rounded bilge, I think you make a fundamental mistake. What I make of your posts is that you state: a ship which has been built bottom based is always followed by a rounded bilge and not a chine. In scientific terms this means: you propose a hypothesis which states that a flat bottom is always followed by a rounded bilge. To support this hypothesis you offer three wreckfinds and state that the chine as it appears in Witsens books wasn’t there in the first place. Still, your proposed rounded bilge for a bottom based ship, remains a hypothesis. For this hypothesis you need to ignore the chine on many of Witsen’s drawings and adjust the method of the construction of the main frame Witsen presents, which does not work. These three wreckfinds represent just a very tiny fraction of all the ships that have ever been made during this period. This number of three wreckfinds is statistically totally insignificant. So, to present these wreckfinds as proof for your hypothesis can never be regarded as conclusive. And please have a look at page 130-132 of Lemée’s book. This is what I meant by thinking every swan is white until you find a black one. You can’t prove anything. In this discussion you can only suggest, assume or propose. But you can never be conclusive. I also stated Witsen’s book has never been thoroughly analysed. You came up with the book written by Ab Hoving about Witsen, published in 1994. I can say a few things about this book. I started writing about wooden shipbuilding in the Dutch Republic in 2009. My aim was to capture and describe my insights and knowledge I gained in the ‘Delft’ project in Rotterdam. But I soon realised that if you want to link the eighteenth century information of design methods, drawings and charters with the building practice there is a problem. In the eighteenth century not a word is published in the Dutch language about the actual building process. If you want to make the connection between theory and practice you end up in the seventeenth century. So I started to analyse the book written by Cornelis van Yk. Partially because he worked in the area of the Maze river, partly because there is no analysis of his book written, up until this day. I assumed that Ab Hoving would have analysed Witsen’s books thoroughly and that I could use Ab Hoving’s book as a reference. But nothing could be further from the truth. Not one question I ask is properly addressed nor answered in this book. When I first discovered this I couldn’t believe it. But it turned out that Ab Hoving’s book is totally useless for supporting my efforts. In more general terms, I am baffled by the fact that Ab Hoving is considered to be an expert on the basis of writing a book like this. A colleague of mine once described this book as a ‘cut and paste’ book with some superficial comments here and there. And that’s what it is. But there is one particularly interesting thing when you compare Ab Hoving’s book to what Witsen has written. Ab Hoving doesn’t have a clue what really is going on in the practice of building a wooden ship in the seventeenth century Dutch Republic. This shows throughout his book. The awareness of the actual building process also lacks in the books of Nicolaes Witsen. Still, Ab Hoving states, you will make a better advance with Witsen’s book than with the book of van Yk, although van Yk is the craftsman of the two and should know what he is talking about. But the opposite is true. No one has ever made a good analysis of the book of Cornelis van Yk, The reason for this is simple: you need to be a shipwright or a carpenter to understand what is written in his book. With this I am referring to the most difficult and elusive of the five understandings I use to write my analysis: the procedure. How do you do things?
Hello Philemon, Good to see you're back. I am in no way saying that you can not build hull shapes with chines when you use Witsen's building method. They could build anything they liked with Witsen's method. As Witsen's technical drawings show: there are hulls with chines, and there are round hulls.
But, what Ab Hoving, not me, always states is that when you build with Witsen's method, you will always get a hull with a chine. To debunk Hoving's myth, I showed three hulls that were built with Witsen's method that are round. So, to stay in your terminology, I showed three black swans while only one would have suffised. So I can be very conclusive in stating that round hulls can be made with Witsen's building method. By the way, I brought this subject to Ab Hoving on the Model Ship World forum last week. He still says there that only chined hulls can be the result of Witsen's building method. I used my three round hull shapes as arguments, with Vasa as the trump, and now he does not reply anymore. That might also have to do something with that I said that I do not have to look at his models, or his replicas anymore to know how ships were built with Witsen's method, I can look at the real thing, at wrecks. So, please, have a look on that forum. The only thing I want is that Hoving's myth of 'the building method decides the design of the ship' finally stops.
You're no fan of Hoving's book of 1994 I guess. But hey, neither am I. I was just answering your question if an analysis was made of Witsen's building method. And that is what Hoving's book is. If it is a good analysis, is another question.
But, if you really want to enjoy Hoving's expertise on 17th century shipbuilding, have a look at the new website of the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed. They gave him a free ride there, so Hoving's vision is now the vision of our beloved state the Netherlands. Another great day for our cultural heritage. The 'chined hull'-myth is on the site, together with the 'no drawings were used in Dutch shipbuilding'-myth, the 'gunports were hacked in the hull'-myth, and some other Hoving-goodies. I will send my letter of protest to the RCE tomorrow. Please join in.
I have a suggestion. The analytical quality in Ab Hoving’s book is absent. And I am not prepared to discuss this work which has no value to me. The discussion about the 'impossibility of drawing a shape in the computer' sounds all too familiar to me. It's nonsens. I draw 1 to 1 in the computer and every shape is possible. And 1 to 1 drawing forces you to take decisions about shapes and connections which resembles the decisions you have to make when you build in reality. But if you want a clear picture of what Witsen actually wrote, this a chance for you: take up Witsen like I took up van Yk. I use the text of van Yk as thread because Cornelis van Yk is very methodical. You could use the sequence Witsen gives in chapter 11 of his book as a thread. A good analysis of Witsen’s work still hasn’t been written. And try to see if it is possible to build a ship from scratch using the general information Witsen gives also hasn’t been tried before. We can compare and exchange information about similar topics. And you can get information from me for which you don’t have to do any work. The problem is nobody reads this books from Cornelis van Yk and Nicolaes Witsen thoroughly, which prevents a discussion. We can start here and there are certainly connections to the Vasa. And can you sent me a link of this page of the Rijksdienst with the contribution of Ab Hoving. I can't find it.
So you had a look at Hoving's reasoning on the American forum. Yeah, it is an impossible situation he created for himself, no way he could talk himself out of his own created mess. Blaming the computer is of course always stupid. Blaming the computer is blaming the man behind the computer. And in this case that is Hoving's long trusted employee Rene Hendrickx. Rene does not speak English, but if he knew what Hoving is saying about him on that forum, he would not be pleased. Hoving is actually putting his cad-capabilities in doubt. And, the strange thing is that Rene has shown that he is very capable of drawing chined hulls. The linesplan of the 'pleasure vessel' with a chine, which he drew, is in the same thread!
I have the idea that you do not know what I am working on. I am working on a book which includes the reconstruction of the threedecked ship GoudenLeeuw of 1666. My book will deal with 17th century shipbuilding in general, and the building methods of Witsen, and Van Yk will be described in detail. Yes, both. For me it is no question of Witsen or Van Yk, you have to use them both. I started my research with Van Yk in the late 1980s, because the facsimile edition was available at that time. I added Witsen in the early 1990s, when that facsimile became available. Before that, in the 1980s, I studied Witsen by visiting the Nijmegen university library during the evening, and copying large pieces... by hand. I was not allowed to take photocopies, or make photos. Ah, those good old days.
So, when you say that nobody ever read both Witsen and Van Yk thoroughly, I must protest: both these books are very dear to me, and I know them both by heart. How are you supposed to say anything about Dutch shipbuilding in the 17th century if you did not study both works thoroughly? I appreciate that you offer your help in interpreting Van Yk, but I fear I am beyond help, I have formed my own opinions already, and these will be presented in my book.
The website of the RCE is called Witsenscheepsbouw.nl, and it is only in Dutch. No problem for you of course, but for the others... I sent my letter of protest to the RCE yesterday, and I suggested that they rename their website into Hovingscheepsbouw.nl, because that is what the site shows: Hoving's shipbuilding, not Witsen's shipbuilding. If you send me a personal mail with your email-address I will send you a copy of my letter.
You told me a little bit a few weeks ago about 'De Gouden Leeuw'. Do you have a publisher already? I am very curious. Concerning the facsimile editions of Witsen, the first one was published begin seventies. This is a facsimile of the 1690 edition issued by the 'Nederlandse Vereniging voor Zeegeschiedenis'. I usually use this 1690 text together with the plates of 1671. But if you did your research thoroughly then you will know. I try to make an analysis of Cornelis van Yk while using Nicolaes Witsen as a sidekick. As you know I chose the 155 feet ship, built in 1664, and try to answer the question if it is possible to build a ship using the information as presented by Cornelis van Yk. As said, I was very surprised by the very poor quality of Ab Hoving's book(s). Not only his book about Witsen but also his book 'In tekening gebracht', about the Dutch design methods of the eighteenth century, which is equally poor in analytical quality. And in many cases Ab just brings up nonsens when he has no explanation for some passages in Witsen's book. And I know of his unpleasant habit of discrediting the work of others. But enough about Ab Hoving. What I am very interested in is how procedures were executed in the seventeenth century. Cornelis van Yk mentions many of them and sometimes only gives information which hides the procedure. And these could be interesting topics of discussion. One of the first ones is the question how the keel is laid down at the slipway at the start of the building process. What considerations did the Master shipwright have when he laid down the keel on stocks? Which factors influence this?
PS, I have read all your last posts. Of course it is possible to produce a flat bottom with a round bilge. I think it is possible to produce any shape you want. But what can be deduced from the books of Witsen and van Yk? I just arrived at the construction of the main frame at van Yk. This going to be interesting because it provides the last information I need to connect to the last chapters of my book to the first. These last chapters are already (partly)written due to the question of laying down the keel.