What Ship Is That? Part 1: The Argosy & Balener
You might not believe this, but the crew at Link Ship Chandlers are a bunch of shipping nerds. ‘What?’, I hear you cry, ‘that’s shocking!’ All kidding aside, we adore ships of all shapes and sizes, which is why we thought we’d share a little bit of insight into our favourite historical ship types – mostly because it’s fascinating to see how the shipping trade developed over many centuries, but also because it’s really fun to throw words like ‘Argosy’ into a conversation at random to see how people react.
So, without further ado, here’s Part One in the Link Ship Chandlers ‘What Ship is That’ series. First up, we have the majestic Argosy and stoic Balener.
The Argosy – Ragusea Trading Vessel
Argosy vessels were mainly used for trade throughout the 1600s by the inhabitants of the Ragusea regions of Venice and Dalmatia. In fact, its very name is a bit of a mispronunciation of the region’s moniker in the first place (i.e. shipyard slang concocted from misheard foreign lingo). The ship’s main selling points were that it could hold a lot of cargo and that it could be manned by a relatively small crew, which made it a very cost-effective option for merchants that had cargo headed for Europe. On the flipside, Argosy ships were notoriously difficult to steer in adverse weather conditions, so their captains preferred to stay nice and close to the coastline, rather than taking chances with misbegotten transoceanic adventures.
The Balener – The Go-To Mediterranean Whaling Vessel
What’s in a name? Well, if the Balener could talk, it would probably say quite a bit, since this whaling vessel had no loss than four commonly used names in the 1400s (including Baleinier, Ballanero, etc.). Quite similar in shape and structure to the more commonly-known Brig, it normally had two masts that were rigged with four square sails. Individual vessels had different weight capacities, but it ranged around the 150 tonne mark. FUN FACT: When whaling wasn’t all that above-board anymore, and government ships or private ship owners would try to run interference in the trade, the owners of Balener ships were known to paint fake cannon holds on the side of their hulls to make it seem as though their vessels were armed.
Fun stuff, right? Check back soon for Part Two that will delve into the intricacies of the Ballinger, Barge and Barque respectively.