In other designs, arcs with large radii are sometimes used to join points L and L' to the floor arcs. In such a case, the rise of the bottom will have a slight concavity amidships. On La Belle a slight concavity near the keel is defined by the garboard planks, which drop the bottom to the level of the rabbet. In fact, the resulting gap between the frames and hull planking serves as the only limber passage for bilge water.
When the theoretical curves generated by the above procedure are superimposed on the archaeological remains of the midship frame, the correspondence in terms of overall curvature is excellent (Figure 28a, b). The close correlation between the theoretical and archaeological curves strongly supports the conclusion that this was actually the original way the midship frame was drawn. However, all the measurements used in this reconstruction differ from those listed in the devis. The devis lists the following dimensions relevant to drawing the midship frame: a maximum beam between the outer faces of the frames of 14 ft; a height of the maximum beam of 6 ft 3 inches; and a width of the floor at the midship frame of 9 ft 4 inches.
Enough of the midship frame is preserved to conclude with certainty that the maximum beam between the outboard faces of the frame was 15 ft and not the 14 ft listed in the devis. Given the level of preservation of the frames, combined with the fact that enough of the bulkheads were preserved to help confirm the reconstructed transverse shapes of the hull, there is no possibility to narrow the hull to 14 ft. The 9 ft 4 inch width of the floor given in the devis is 2/3 of the 14-ft maximum breadth measurement. In contrast, the reconstructed midship section floor width of 7½ ft is half the reconstructed maximum breadth of 15 ft. Thus despite being one foot wider, the as-built La Belle, with a smaller beam to floor width ratio, has a much less "boxy" midship section. The fact that both sets of beam and floor measurements form clear but different ratios seems to indicate that the as-built measurements resulted from an alternation to original design specifications.
The discrepancy between the reconstructed height of the maximum beam of 6 ft and that listed in the devis of 6 ft 3 inches is far simpler to account for. In the reconstruction, 3 inches is the dimension for the rising between the baseline and the floor line (Figure 27c) (Boudriot 1994:40; Rieth 1996:40–42). Six feet is the reconstructed distance between the maximum beam line and the baseline and not the floor line (Figure 27a). In other devis, such as that of the light frigate in the draft by Cochois (Figure 18), the rising is listed separately from the height of the maximum beam (MnM 1697:PH 90251). I believe that in La Belle's devis the two may have been added together and listed as one measurement of 6 ft 3 inches. NEXT
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