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June 25th, 2003, 04:12 AM

I'm seeking info about icebreaker ships, ancient type, pre-steam era.

I'd appreciate any links and/or info you have to give me.


Thanks in Advance,


I, Brian
June 25th, 2003, 07:26 AM
Have you tried typing key words into Google? Always works for me. :)

June 25th, 2003, 01:48 PM
I'm not entirely sure that pre-steam engine Ice Breaker ships existed - at least not as their primary function.

Saying this right off the top of my head, with no research whatsoever, I'll give the following characteristics to Ice Breaker ships

1. Long and sleek so that they can get a great deal of speed from the rowers and/or sails.

2. A long prow or ram extending below the water line and capped with iron.

3. A LOT of rowers and men who stood in the bow with long poles ot help push the ship away from the ice for another ramming run

Basically, I suspect that Warships doubled as Ice Breaker ships.

June 25th, 2003, 02:00 PM
It's gonna have to be HEAVY. Ice breakers don't just run into the ice and break it, but in the era of a wood boat, are likely to run up onto the ice, and would need to have the weight to cause the ice to break underneath from weight more than forward momentum. You simply can't maintain that kind of momentum from wind or oars.
Sooo.... I don't think you can create an ice breaker that really works without steam or other power. The need for momentum and weight preclude the ability to move foward and stay afloat in the time of wooden boats and oars or sails. Wood also could not handle the presure, the seams would split far too easily from the impact.

June 25th, 2003, 02:54 PM
I, Brian -- Yes, I have. But I find that people's opinions and/or info about a certain subject always help me more than the the basic info a site usually provides. :)

Chlestron and Richard, thanx for your thoughts on the subject.

I'm looking forward to more info or thoughts.

June 25th, 2003, 09:30 PM
I don't know specifically, but I remember that Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" has long sequences on an ice-breaking ship. Of course, it's probably a post-steam one, but it might be useful re the metal on the hull, etc.

There have also been several non-fiction books recently about the history of the polar expeditions, both to the North and South poles. That might have some information regarding the ships.

I would suspect that if you are talking about a wooden ship, that it would need some kind of metal on it's hull and perhaps a metal spear on its prow, like a giant ice pick.

June 26th, 2003, 03:36 PM
I think the "ice breaker" was really invented in the steam era.

If you wanted to concoct one, it would need to have an iron hull, or at least the prow. Also, wind power and rowing wouldn't work- you'd need hurricane winds, which would snap the mast, and oars would just scrape along the ice, wouldn't they?

So it would need to be pulled- teams of horses, oxen, etc on board to put off onto the ice and walk along infront of the ship with a harness and rigging to pull the ship through it. It would be incredibly dangerous, and losses would therefore be very high from both cold and illness and accident for the animals and their handlers. In reality, this is something you'll have to use your imagination for since there is no basis in reality for you in the era you're searching for.

Ice breakers even in the steam age were highly susceptible to getting caught on the ice or having their hulls buckle from the pressure of ice pressing in on 3 sides and needing rescue themselves, so it would be even worse without the benefit of steam and galvanized or re-inforced iron.

Good luck, though. Could be fun to come up with a fictional solution.

June 26th, 2003, 03:56 PM
Thanx for your opinions, KatG and Wastra!

Wastra: Actually, I have come up with something, thought I'm not sure yet; perhaps, I'll rethink about it.

For the mo, I'm thinking about ice-wood (a strong-as-iron kind of wood---that doesn't exist in reality, of course :D) and steel on the prow. So I'll have the weight and hardness (icewood) plus the steel "blade" to crack the ice.

Also, the idea you mentioned... something draging the ship. That might be v. interesting. Maybe I can fit in ice-serpents on the continent I'm world-building, if it ties up well with the other stuff...

June 26th, 2003, 05:23 PM
Being that this is a fantasy board... perhaps magic comes into play here, or at least 'fantastic' ideas. The ship could be made entirely of 'iron wood' or some made up wood that is hard and flexible like iron. Or, it could be stone (ala Thomas Covanant giantships).
Ice could be 'broken' be force eminating from the front of the ship (something that perhaps magically creates massive vibration in the ice) and the ship just pushes it apart. Oars are no good, obviously, not I think wind, but it could be moved by some arcane energy source or towed by a undersea creature of some sort.

June 26th, 2003, 10:24 PM
Ooo, I vote for ice serpents!