Today, majestic steel ships sail across the sea and ocean. But there was a time when the hulls of ships were made exclusively of wood. Not every tree was suitable for building a sailing ship. Ship timber was in special demand among shipbuilders, and the most stringent requirements were imposed on the trunks that were used for the manufacture of masts.
What is a ship forest
During the heyday of sailing shipbuilding, ships were almost entirely made of wood. For this purpose, the so-called timber was used, to which strict requirements were imposed on weight, strength, trunk shape and elasticity. The hardest part was finding the right tree for the sailboat's mast, as it must be able to withstand the severe loads that occur in strong winds.
Traditionally, oak, teak, larch and pine were used to make the main parts of the sailboat hull. These types of wood were best suited for the structure of the ship's frame, her skin and deck deck. For the manufacture of masts, a special ship pine was most often selected, which was distinguished by a straight trunk and sufficient girth. Other types of wood were used for the interior equipment and finishing of ships, which required less material: spruce, ash, valuable mahogany, acacia.
In a number of states, where shipbuilding was one of the leading sectors of the economy, there were protected plantations and whole tracts of forest, which was intended exclusively for the construction of ships. In Russia, the very concept of "ship forest" was introduced by Tsar Peter, who in the early years of the 18th century, by his decree, established ship groves, which were deciduous and coniferous. Here, under the control of the state, especially high-quality species of pine, larch and oak grew. Conventional felling in the ship's forests was strictly prohibited.
In the construction of ships, several types of ship pine were most often used. These include the yellow pine, which mostly grows in central Russia. Its elastic, strong and strong wood was used for the construction of above-deck structural elements, including masts, topmills and yards.
Red pine, typical of the northern regions, with its dry wood, was used for cladding, and also went to the deck flooring. White pine usually grows in wetlands. It was of the worst quality, and therefore was used for those parts that did not require exceptional strength and did not carry a serious load.
The ideal ship pine has a straight, tall, thick and very strong trunk, on which there are practically no flaws. The height of the tree can be different, but the tallest trees were used to make the masts, the trunks of which rose several tens of meters.
Ship pine wood is usually moderately resinous, with a hard core. To reach this state, the tree must grow for several decades in favorable conditions. The best specimens of ship pine reached an age of one hundred years, had up to 40 m in height and up to half a meter in diameter.