For the Nautical Magazine.
A noble ship, constructed scientifically, seems to me to be most like a ship, as ideality conceives it. A perfect ship — what a structure! — a child can turn her on her course; touch the helm, and she obeys instantly. Could I take time, I would like to write you much of ships and ship-building, and the proper fastening in all their parts; for I do know that all ships built in this country are not bolted, and nailed, and screwed together, as they should be. How much would be saved by insurance offices, (and what the insurance loses is national,) were a law passed which would compel ship-builders to put, at least, a certain quantity of fastenings, and all sound timber, into a ship. I have seen ships built with the nails and bolts, especially if required of copper, so "few and far between," that a pack of hounds, in full cry, would only occasionally get on the true scent, or trail, of a copper bolt or nail. I am of the opinion that the NAUTICAL MAGAZINE should give the Insurance Companies a hint, and a broad one, too, upon the propriety of appointing mechanics, of ability, too look after the materials of the ships building in this country. I have kown captains of vessels appointed to supervise the construction of ships, many of whom cannot tell sap-wood from heart-wood. Ship-masters will know their duty better on deck, looking after the rigging, sparring, and fitting out, which is more in their line of duty. I hold that even Capt. West, of the noble Steamer Atlantic, a gentleman of superior worth as a navigator, or a seaman, and as fine a citizen and commander as our glorious country can boast, cannot be compared to any intelligent ship-carpenter to superintend the construction of ships, especially when the best mechanics of the United States could be engaged for this important service. Long experience in these matters has fixed this impression upon my mind, viz.: that marine insurance companies would be vastly relieved from the losses of shipwreck were they to employ, in each port of the United States, some competent mechanic to give them information how each new vesel is fastened, and what kind of timber enters into her construction.
[Our correspondent has touched a very important point in maritime economy, and his remarks might have been continued to the advantage of our readers. The safety of ships begins with the model, and next rests with the construction; and culminates in the application of propulsory power, and the management at sea. — Eds. N.M.]
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius
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