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Galliot from Psara 3: The Quest for Plans

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

A wooden trace (monochnaro)

The galliot from Psara depicted in Kogevinas’ engraving has not been well documented and no reliable plans for the ship exist. This is mainly due to the fact that such plans never existed. Greek shipbuilders did not build their ships according to plans, using instead what they called a trace (χνάρι). This was an adjustable rule, made usually from three pieces of curved wood, that could be adjusted to produce the different shapes of the ship’s frames. The trace method is the reason that no actual plans existed for traditional Greek boats, until modern researchers reverse engineered them from surviving vessels.

The trace method

Since no examples of the galliot from Psara survive, any reconstruction of the vessel would be purely speculative. There are a few attempts by Greek researchers to reconstruct the ship and build models for museums and private collections.

Most important among them are the attempts by Christos Simonidis, Georgios Rallis and Evagelos Kapsoulakis. Simonidis’ reproduction is the most prominent among them, as he has built models for the Hellenic Maritime Museum in Piraeus, the War Museum in Athens, the Aegean Museum in Mykonos, as well as the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

Simonidis' model from the Hellenic Maritime Museum

Simonidis made several alterations on the ship’s shape, based on his own research of written primary sources, similar vessels of the same era and discussions with traditional ship builders. While his reproduction is probably the best researched version of this type of vessel, it differs quite substantially from the engraving. He chooses, for example, to increase the number of oars per side from 12 to 16, to agree with several sources, and builds a much straighter hull with less prominent curves.

In my attempt to reconstruct the ship as depicted by Kogevinas, I came across the planset produced by the Italian company Amati. The ship lines in Amati’s plans are obviously based on Kogevinas’ engraving, though they contain some alterations and a few obvious mistakes. Using the plans as a base for the hull shape, I intend to alter them in order to build a vessel as close as possible to the one in engraving.

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