How Ships Were Made Waterproof During The Age Of Sail

During the sailing years, it was a great tension when even a small crack was found somewhere on the ship. This is so because there are chances of water rushing in to sink down the boat or ship.

The main construction

  • Materials used: Almost all the ships were made of clinker, a strong material that was constructed as long planks overlapped and bolted at either of its every edge. Usually, the building process starts from the outside portion leading to incorporating a physical inner frame for structural purposes.

Some others used a different classy style of wooden construction better known as the carvel. They opted for primarily placing the inner frame and then riveted the long planks to it. This method was introduced during the middle ages and was gradually absorbed in the further ship making process.

Benefits of using carvel over clinker: Carvel was designed from the high-quality wood that gave the ships a more resistant framework and the fair watertight properties. Whereas, the clinker ones had the overlying planks that gave it a light feeling.

About the utilized tools


  • An axe was employed in its sophisticated ways
  • To assure the at most strength and tractability, wood grains were applied
  • Sawn timber was also exercised for the building but was less sounding than the axe

Steps for waterproofing

On those days, people used natural gums provided by the environment that gave the best waterproofing qualities. For example

  • The Tarring property substances were better used to stamp the leaking areas of the ship body.
  • Even the sailing cloth was lubricated with natural oil that helps withstand the twisting and turning of fabric during rough situations.
  • Further, the waxing process continued to lend the waterproofing characteristics.