Tuesday, June 05, 2007


A dugout is a boat which is essentially a hollowed tree trunk; other names for this type of boat are logboat and monoxylon. Monoxylon (Pl: monoxyla) is Greek -- mono (single) + xylon (tree) -- and is frequently used in classic Greek texts.
Dugouts are the oldest boats archaeologists contain found. Within Germany they are called Einbaum (English translation: One tree). Einbaum dug-out boat finds in Germany day back to the limestone Age. The length of bark and hide canoes, these dugout boats were used by American Indians. This is probably because they are made of enormous pieces of wood, which tend to preserve better than, e.g., bark canoes.
Construction of a dugout begins with the collection of a log of appropriate dimensions. Sufficient wood needed to be removed to make the vessel comparatively light in weight and buoyant, yet still strong enough to support the crew and cargo. Particular types of wood were often favorite based on their strength, durability, and weight. The shape of the boat is then fashioned to reduce drag, with sharp ends at the bow and stern.
First the bark is detached from the exterior. Before the exterior of metal tools, dugouts were then hollowed-out using controlled fires. The burnt wood was then detached using an adze. Another method using tools is to chop out parallel notches crossways the interior span of the wood, then split out and remove the wood from between the notches. Once hollowed out, the core was dressed and smoothed out with a knife or adze.
For traveling the rougher waters of the ocean, dugouts can be fitted with outriggers. One or two smaller logs are mounted parallel to the major hull by long poles.

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