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Morphology and Aesthetics of Clam Boats
BOAT FOR HARVESTING CLAMS from the bays and basins of coastal waters must
have a hull with a shallow draft; a deck that is flat and unobstructed;
a cabin; and a hold. Those are the essentials (and they also apply
to boats for harvesting scallops or oysters).
My sketch of a basic clam boat, a scow.
The scow is such a simple and obvious design for a clam boat that it is nearly universal; this picture of an oyster boat, which Albertine snapped last year in a settlement of shellfisherfolk along the inner edge of the Bassin díArcachon on the Atlantic coast of France, could have been taken in Babbington when I was a boy, except that the clam boats of Babbington were gray and the oyster boats of Arcachon were as colorful as my motherís little pastel sandwiches.
|There is no need for a clam boat to be beautiful, yet some are. If you had visited Babbington when I was a boy, you would have seen some clam boats different from those boxy utilitarian scows, a curvaceous bunch of boats, curvy not because someone thought that curves would make them beautiful or sexy, but because they had originally been designed to sail. Arcinella was one of these.|
My sketch of Arcinella, from memory.
A clam boat with some of Arcinellaís attributes, photographed near Babbington. (The devices on a rack above the cabin are tongs for harvesting clams from the bay.)
| If a clam boat can be said to be beautiful,
was a beauty, though she was no longer young. She had a past, which
we knew, or thought we knew, from Captain Mac. Long ago, she had
been under sail, a working boat, carrying goods from one town on Bolotomy
Bay to another, but when sail gave way to power, and shipping by water
gave way to shipping overland, Arcinella was abandoned, a casualty
of progress. She spent the war years in a shallow backwater of the
Bolotomy River, anonymously settling into the muck, and when Captain Macís
father found her she was well on her way to becoming a rotting hulk. He
bought her for next to nothing and transformed her from sail to power,
from shipping to clamming. He pulled her from the water, and in Leechís
Boat Yard he removed her mast and rigging, cut her keel down and rebuilt
her bottom to give her a very shallow draft so that she could float in
the shoals of the bayís clam flats without scraping her hull. He
installed a six-cylinder engine from a 1946 Studebaker Champion, driving
her prop through the first and reverse gears of the carís transmission.
According to Captain Mac, his father had undertaken the project with the
intention of selling Arcinella, but when he looked her over and
saw what he had wrought, he was struck by the beauty of her, seduced by
the beauty of her. Stripped down, without her mast and rigging, the
lines of her hull and the gentle curve of her gunwales showed to better
advantage than ever before. She was sturdy and stable, broad in the
beam, solid but graceful, a beauty. The Galatea effect kicked in.
He kept her.
Do you find yourself muttering, ďGee whiz,
I wish I could do something to support the good work Kraft is doing in
that dusty garret of his.Ē
Copyright © 2001 by Eric Kraft
Inflating a Dog is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the authorís imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Picador USA will publish Inflating a Dog in the summer of 2002.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail Kraftís indefatigable agent, Alec ďNickĒ Rafter.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesnít particularly resemble Peter Leroyóexcept, perhaps, for the smile.