The Silent Seas
Ships and Boats
Tenegar Ships: The Keredar and the Koräk
Tenegar ships represent not just years of dedicated work and craftsmanship, but the standing of those who own it. Each clan of note possesses at least one ship – the most influential possess fleets of up to 30 ships – and it is seen as a necessary step for any clan seeking power and influence in Döv Räzad to commission their own clan vessel.
The carvings and motifs that decorate every Tenegar ship are not simply aesthetic – they serve as identifying markers. Each ship is carved with the heraldic beasts of its patron clan and its name written in chiseled script, while specific markings or imagery may identify other factors. Flags and banners are purely decorative elements that are usually hung from the masts to bring good luck or to celebrate special events; while they can also display the patron clan’s heraldry or name, most sailors do not consider them a proper means to identify a vessel, as they are too easily switched.
Although each ship varies a little in terms of size and certainly in the complexity of its carved imagery, Tenegar ships are all built to the same basic design principles. They are traditionally built of blackwood, camphor, greenheart or silky oak, although decorative elements use more valuable timbers, including ebony, rosewood and teak.
There are two variants of Tenegar ship – the keredar (a flat-bottomed vessel typically used for coastal fishing and river transport) and the koräk (a bulkier vessel capable of sailing into open water). In both cases, the hull is gently curved, with a horseshoe-shaped stern supporting a high deck. They are flat-bottomed and usually rely on a leeboard or daggerboard to prevent the ship from slipping sideways in the water (although the koräk possesses two fin keels in addition to a leeboard). Both ships have two masts, bearing large square sails with limited rigging. A Tenegar ship utilizes stern-mounted, fenestrated rudders and, where the wind is unfavorable, can employ oars.
Though the ships belong to individual clans and are generally crewed by them, it is common for Tenegar of lower status to seek employment as a sailor on board the ship of a more influential clan. The Tenegar are quite equitable about the distribution of profit on board their vessels, and even the lowliest of sailing hands receives a fair share.
Elven Ships: The Lúinnath
The elves, by contrast, build their sailing vessels light, fast, and simple. Suited to coast and reef, elven ships, or lúinnath as they are called, rarely travel into the open sea – they are predominantly used for passenger transport between the islands and for fishing. The elves rarely engage in trade on a bulk scale, and have no need or desire to freight heavy goods between settlements. For personal use and river travel, the elves prefer to use one-man canoes.
A typical lúinnath is built of softwoods such as kauri or sugi, but sometimes out of hardwoods or even bamboo. They have two flat-bottomed hulls joined together by a large platform, and typically use a retractable daggerboard to maintain direction. They have two masts, with colorful triangular sails – commonly either green or a combination of green and gold. Lúinnath almost never employ oars, except when sailing through shallow reefs.
Along the port side of the open deck is the apŏré, a longhouse which serves as a communal eating and sleeping area for the crew. The interior of the apŏré is usually extremely decorative, layered with rugs, cushions and wall hangings, while the hull is comparatively plain – elegant, but unpainted. The crew of an elven lúinnath are usually a single extended family; unlike the somewhat more temporary houses the elves build on shore, an_apŏré_ is often the work of multiple generations, each adding their own touches during their long lifetimes.
Chay Boats: The Dhal and Ankhar
The Chay possess two forms of sailing vessels: the dhal, a small boat around 12ft in length, and the ankhar, a larger vessel of up to 20ft in length. Both the dhal and ankhar have long, thin hulls and a single mast with lateen sails, which are almost universally red: the Chay believe that red sails are lucky, and thus the rare sails that are not exclusively red still use the color as part of their design.
Dhal are traditionally used for shallow and deep-water fishing, and typically have a crew of between 6–8, while the larger ankhar carry shipments of trade goods between ports, and boast a crew of up to 16. The dhal has little in the way of in-built shelter, often no more than a tarpaulin stretched across the aft and held in place by poles, whereas the ankhar has some cramped living quarters built in – although the majority of space is still reserved for cargo.
Both the dhal and ankhar are acknowledged as some of the fastest ships in the Known Lands. This allows the Chay to outrun almost any attempt to attack their ship, but also means that when a Chay captain turns to piracy, they are well-feared through the Known Lands.
Human Tribes: A Motley Canoe
There is no such thing as a “typical” human boat, as their design, techniques, and the materials they are crafted from vary greatly. Most, however, adopt the form of a canoe: lightweight, pointed at both ends and propelled by oars or paddles. Some human-built canoes have a keel, making them more stable for sea voyages, but the majority are flat-bottomed; less stable, but superior at cruising through reef and shallow waters.
The Shiæda tribes especially place great value upon their war canoes (cræ), carving the wooden surface with exquisite detail, even incorporating shell, pearl, or semi-precious stones into their work. The tribal crae can often be the most lovingly ornamented construction in an entire Shiæda village.
The Krolan tribes eschew timber entirely for their vessels, in favor of using whalebone and waterproofed hide, creating much smaller, covered canoes (karar) that fit between 1–4 people.