From Henk Dogger in Brisbane
Brian Fagan, The Little Ice Age, Chapter 10: “Bucking the Trades” [http://www.brianfagan.com/chapter_10.html]
Naval architect and historian John Leather believes doggers had their origins among working boats already familiar to North Sea fisherfolk. Their ancestry clearly lay in the long tradition of lapstrake shipbuilding inherited from Norse ships and earlier prototypes. Another ancestor, clearly, was the ubiquitous zeeschuyt and vessels such as cogs and hulcs. Doggers would have been built in the centuries-old tradition of northern European shipwrights—planked first with fairly large strakes, the frames then fitted to a crude but workmanlike hull, using beech, fir, oak, or whatever timber was available. The builders would have fastened the frames and planks with iron nails and wooden trenails.
Leather estimates a dogger would have displaced about 13 tonnes, sufficient to carry a tonne (1.02 US short tons) of bait, apart from that caught at the fishing grounds. Three tonnes of salt, half a tonne of food, and another half tonne of firewood would have filled out the cargo, allowing about 6 tonnes for the catch. Boulders and coarse sand would have ballasted the hull, allowing the skipper to adjust the draught and trim of the boat. Such a displacement would require a boat about 15 meters long, with a maximum beam of 4.5 meters, and a draught of about 1.5 meters—much deeper than a Dutch inshore fishing boat. These were substantial craft, capable of carrying heavy loads and spending many weeks at sea..
Leather believes that doggers had fairly fine bows and pointed sterns, relatively high sides, and very limited ability to sail against the wind. They were at their best when the wind was behind or abeam. In rough weather blowing from ahead, the skipper would have no option but to shorten sail and try and sail as close to the wind as possible. But his vessel would lose many kilometers to leeward. Despite their relatively fine bows, doggers were compact load carriers rather than swift sailors. But it was essential that they could be steered precisely in tidal waters and rough seas. For this reason they had a rudder with a long handle (tiller) attached to the stern, not a steering oar, which was far more tiring in use.
Like all North Sea vessels of the day, doggers would have had square sails, two of them set on a couple of masts, hinged at the base so they could be lowered at sea in a strong wind. Leather theorizes that the mainmast was stepped just aft of amidships, flying a single large flax or woolen sail, the material so heavy that it had to be wetted to make it set well. In lighter winds, the crew would lace two parallel cloths to the bottom of the sail to increase its area. This “bonnet” and the lower “drabbler” would be removed as the wind strengthened. The sail cloth was too weak to allow the fitting of reefing cords, which would allow the sail to be reduced by bundling and tying it. As on Norse ships, sail would be edged with rope, so that it could be sheeted in tight on the windward side when trying to sail against the wind. The second, smaller mast stood in the bow and carried a much smaller square sail that could be set or furled very easily. Like Norse skippers, dogger crews knew intimately their vessels’ strengths and limitations. This is where the smaller square sail came in—to act as an accelerator when the wind was abeam, to improve the handling of the ship when the mainsail tended to turn it into the wind, to reduce uncontrolled rolling when running before an ocean swell. This combination of sails was developed on North Sea fishing boats over many centuries and made the dogger about as efficient as it could ever become.
The internal and deck layout is entirely a matter of speculation. John Leather believes there was a decked area forward, a simple cuddy with shelf-like berths for the crew and possibly a stone hearth for cooking in calm water. Amidships was a hold, where the crew stood to fish and the bait and catch were stored. This may have been decked over with a small access hatch, but more likely it was open to the elements, protected by weathercloths on either side, and rigged with wooden platforms where the crew fished and gutted and salted the catch. A second decked area may have covered the stern, to prevent white water and spray from cascading into the hold, a protected place where fishing gear and other more valuable equipment could be stored. Wooden partitions would have subdivided the cargo area to hold the catch.
Doggers remained stationary for long while fishing, so anchors were an important part of their equipment. Each boat would have had a heavy main anchor and at least two smaller ones, sometimes weighted with stones, also sufficient strong rope to be able to stay put in water up to 18 meters deep. In the days before engines, anchors were arguably the most important survival tool for ships that had virtually no ability to sail against the wind, when a rocky shore lay close astern. Finally, each dogger would have carried a small faering-like open boat perhaps 4.5 meters long—for laying out anchors and mooring lines, rearranging bait nets, or rowing ashore.
The sturdy, slow-moving dogger that took North Sea fisherfolk far offshore in the depths of winter in search of cod, a food that became so fundamental to European life that it was known as the beef of the sea. To harvest it, men and boys endured incredible hardships. Protected only by woolen and leather garments, lashed by freezing spray and waves, subsisting day after day on cold hard tack, often the very stockfish they sought, they fished in fair weather and foul, in sun, snow, and sleet, knowing that death could come at any moment at the hands of a capricious God. They were there because doctrines based on scriptures they could not read dictated that everyone eat fish during Lent, and because kings fought kings on the most trivial of pretexts.