Χρήσιμες πληροφορίες για τα αρχαία ελληνικά πλοία στο
Boating and sailing became very important to the Greek way of life. The Greeks needed ways to import and export trade goods both within Greece and to other countries. The mountainous terrain of Greece made sailing the easiest way. Wars also caused countries to learn about sailing. Navies became a must in these wars. For instance, the battle of Salamis (480 B.C.) was won because the Athenian navy was superior to the Persian navy.
There were two main types of boats during this time. One was a military ship and the other was a cargo ship. These two ships played a big role in ancient Greece.
The most prominent fighting ship of this time was the trireme. The trireme was used earlier than the pentekontor. The trireme was a single tier ship and had 25 rowers on each side of the ship. The trireme had two tiers of oars with one man to an oar. They were around 115 feet long and 8.5 feet tall. In good weather conditions these boats could travel around 14 knots an hour. Considering these boats were powered by man, this is quite quick. Since gunpowder wasn't invented yet the Greeks used this military vessel to ram into the enemy's hull. This would disable the ship or sink it. This tactical manoeuvre was called diekplous, or in English "break through and ram." The boats would line up in a square formation. Some would quickly turn and ram into opposing ships. The main weapon for ramming into enemy ships was the beak of the ship. This was covered with heavily weighted bronze beaks.
There was one problem with the trireme. It was rather light and was blown off course when high winds arose. This lead the Greeks to make three and four tier boats called quinqueremes. These had three to four tiers of oars with two men to an oar. This made the boat a lot heavier and less easy to blow off course. These boats were made of wood with metal spikes to hold the wood together. The most common wood used was fir, cedar, and pine. The bottom of these boats were sheathed with lead to protect them from being rammed. Some even melted wax and added a pigment to make it look like paint.
The second most common ship in ancient Greece was the cargo ship. These ships were used to transport imports and exports. These boats are what made ancient Greece prosperous. It saved a lot of time to transport goods by water rather than by land. The land was too mountainous to travel across easily. These ships used sails instead of oars and rowers. Sailing was more technically difficult than rowing since you had to learn about the wind and how to adjust your sail to meet the wind. These ships traveled at an average speed of 5 knots. In order to sail in contrary winds the cargo ships would sail in a zig zag pattern. This caused the ships to travel twice the distance they would have travelled with a good wind, and so it took twice as long as being able to sail direct. Naturally people tried to sail when the wind was in the right direction!
Cargo ships were also made of wood and averaged about 150 tons around 400 BC. Later, in 240 BC, boats were weighing 350 to 500 tons. Ships began adding sails with the increase in size. Two to three masts were common. Some cargo ships were called trading ships or haulers. These ships had very deep hulls and broad beams, wich helped them sail close to the wind. Haulers were usually around 60 feet long.
Understanding navigation was very important to a sailor's survival. Steering, sails, and anchors all were very important to a ship's safe arrival. The trireme was steered by a pair of heavy, broad-bladed oars. These oars were controlled by one man. The sails depended on the strength of the mast. If the mast wasn't strong then adjustments couldn't be made. The sail was raised and lowered according to the wind. When the wind was light the sail was fully extended. When the wind became gusty and strong the sail would be lowered. In severe wind and storm the sails would be lowered completely for fear that the ship might be blown over. Anchors became very important. It meant survival or total loss while at shore. In early Greek times a plain stone was used to hold the boat in place. This faced the Greeks with two problems: how to get the arm of the anchor to bury itself, and how to get it to stay. The Greeks then made an anchor with two arms which were perpendicular with the sea flow. The arms could 'saw' their way into holding position. These were like the anchors we use today. Anchors were made of wood and lead. The lead made the tip and the top of the anchor. The body was made of wood.