Boats, Hand-Powered

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Boats, Hand-Powered


boats propelled by oars or paddles. There are two kinds of craft: with and without oarlocks (supports for the oars). Oarlocks are located on the sides (of rowboats of various types), between tholepins on the outrigger of the boat (racing sculls), or in the stern (gondolas); vessels without oarlocks include kayaks and canoes. These boats may have a sail (or sails) or an outboard motor.

Rowed and paddled boats were used in ancient Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt for river and sea navigation. The remains of a 5,000-year-old rowboat were found in the north of the USSR. Hand-powered vessels were used for trade, military campaigns, and for pleasure trips; the boats were often remarkable for the great complexity of their design. A description is extant of a flat-bottomed boat built during the reign of the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy IV Philopator. It was more than 100 m long, carried approximately 3,000 soldiers, and was propelled by 4,000 rowers arranged in 40 rows. In antiquity there were numerous sea-going vessels of considerable dimensions (40–45 m long and more; approximately 300 tons in carrying capacity) with one or several tiers of oars. Many had auxiliary sails. The necessity of carrying a large number of rowers and supplies for them, the difficulty of rowing in rough waters, the low speed (on the average 5–7 km per hr in calm weather) and the exhaustingly hard labor of the rowers led to the displacement of oars by sails, especially in merchant ships, during the second half of the 18th century. Present-day seagoing and river craft propelled by oars or paddles are mainly used in sports and racing, but there are also small commercial and transport boats and lifeboats that are hand-powered.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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