Friday, August 19, 2011

Outremer Ships and Boats

Types of ships were used in Outremer that were typically used:

Ocean Going Dhows

These are large, deep-drafted vessels of 250-500 tons or so. They are large enough and seaworthy enough to cross any ocean, especially the Indian Ocean, to get to India, Ceylon, and the Spice Islands. They carry a crew of 30-50, and usually some small cannon for defense. These dhows have a very sharp bow, two to three lateen masts, and a built up stern. The great ports of Acre, Tyre, Jaffa, Alexandrette, Laodicea, Rhodes, Tripoli, Sidon, Limasol, Famagusta, al Maqnah, Aqaba, and Caesarea are where these dhows trade.

Coastal Dhows

These are smaller vessels, designed for the coasting trade and fishing in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. They are shallow-drafted, for use of smaller ports. They range from 50-150 tons, and carry one or two lateen masts and 6-20 crew. Their hulls are often sewn together in the traditional manner. They are seldom armed.


Smaller and lighter than dhows are the felluccas. These can go anywhere, and are used for fishing and river travel in great numbers. They carry a single mast, and mostly in the 10-20 ton range, with a crew of two to five.


These are fast, small vessels from Portugal and Spain, 50-150 tons, and with two lateen masts. They are lighter built than dhows, with a less sharp bow, and carry a crew of 5-20. Some carried light cannon for defense.


Big vessels of heavy, towering construction. They were used as main warships and as trading vessels with some of the guns removed. They were of 500-2000 tons, and multi-decked, carrying all manner of cannon. As warships, their crews would vary between 100-500 men, and as trading vessels between 50-100. Galleons came from the western Mediterranean and from England.

Race Built Galleons

A very new English design, the race (from razee - shaved down) built galleons were much lower than their towering cousins, but just as long. This made them more weatherly - making less leeway in a wind - and more maneuverable. These are the ships that later sliced up the Armada. They were about two-thirds the tonnage and man of the standard galleon, and would only show up in Acre at first.


A compromise between a galley and a sailing vessel, galleasses could sail well, and also carried 20-30 oars to move with no wind. They were not as good as either a galley under oars or as a sailing vessel under sail. Exclusively a naval vessel, and equiped with a single bank of cannon above the oars, they were prized by Venice, England, Genoa, Ascalon, and Cyprus. Size and crew were much like the race built galleon.


Galleys were the primary warships in the Mediterranean. All the major powers had fleets of galleys, ranging from 200-800 tons, with very large crews. Most carried two large lateen sails, and one to three heavy cannon in the forecastle.


A small, open (undecked) vessel with one lateen mast. it is much like a felucca, but of different hull design, being more solidly built of clinker construction.



  1. Nice Clash. I knew a couple of them but not the others. Will be sending it to my group. We didn't game on Friday but did have a brain storming session about beasties in Outremer.

  2. Very cool, Bonni! I hope this stuff is of some use to folks!