Eriksson’s Little Fishing Boat Dream
“Wait, one second,” Borkal said as he pushed Eriksson away, “What are you thinking, Eyke? Why would you buy a broken flipper? There’s such a huge hole in the middle and the entire bottom is broken! Even if you’re buying it for cheap, you still have to repair the whole hull. Only the frame of this flipper can still be used.”
Eriksson nodded. “That’s exactly what I set my sights on.”
After he said that, Eriksson raised two fingers at Wakri. “Two thales. If you don’t like it, pretend I didn’t bring it up, Uncle Wakri.”
Wakri made a pained smile. “Just add a little more… You can’t let me make such a huge loss on it…”
“I don’t have the money for it,” Eriksson said as he shook his head, “Uncle Wakri, two thales is my sincerest offer. If you don’t want to sell it, forget it. To be honest, I only want the frame of the flipper. It isn’t worth fixing the whole thing anymore. You’ll only get around two or three thales if you dismantle the whole thing and sell the wood, and that doesn’t account for labor cost, so I doubt you’d be able to earn more than what I’m willing to pay.”
Taking boats apart was a skilled profession in Whitestag. Usually, a shipmaker would bring two or three apprentices with him to dismantle boats as a side job. But only with their skills could one reuse an intact frame after dismantling. A common, unskilled brute would in the best case remove an essential part when dismantling a ship or break them off into firewood in the worst case.
Usually, only larger vessels were worth being dismantled. A flipper was considered a small vessel, but the frame of the boat was still rather useful. Wakri was worried that if he tried to dismantle it himself without hiring a shipmaker to do it for him, the frame would be turned into nothing but junk. But it would be too expensive and not worth it for him to hire a shipmaker. It was as Eriksson had said, the amount of money he could sell the flipper for might not even be able to afford the labor costs.
“Uncle Wakri, I think it’s best if you just sell it. Otherwise, others will find out that you made a bad trade if you keep this flipper displayed outside your shop like that. That will badly affect your reputation. If you’re able to buy such an invaluable flipper, wouldn’t that cast doubt on the quality of the other items you sell?” added Claude.
Perhaps that was exactly what Wakri was worried about, so his expression changed immediately. He waved his hand exasperatedly and said, “Alright, two silver thales it is. But please, bring the broken flipper away as soon as you can.”
“Very well. I’ll get someone to come pick it up in the afternoon,” Eriksson said as he gladly handed two thales to Wakri, “I have to go back to class first, so we won’t be here to pick it up that soon. If someone asks, tell them that I bought it and am just leaving it with you for a while.”
It seemed that Wakri was thinking the same thing as he nodded and returned to his shop after collecting his payment.
After that, the four of them returned to school.
“Eyke, you can tell us why you bought that flipper now, right?” asked Borkal, being the one most curious about it.
“You’ve seen the wavepiercer I have at my family’s jetty, right?” Eriksson was still trying to put up a suspenseful air.
A wavepiercer was a common fishing boat on Freia. They were mostly carried on long-distance fishing vessels for net fishing. Wavepiercers were seven meters in length and around two meters in width. There was also a small mast and sail on each of them and it was normally crewed by ten people, usually, one helmsman, six rowers, one sail operator, one captain and a net deployer.
When a long-distance vessel discovered a school of fish at sea, its crew would send a wavepiercer down to deploy the nets and catch as many fish as they could. Large ships would normally have two wavepiercers which would work in tandem with the main ship to fish. THey could also be used as lifeboats or docking vessels.
There was a wavepiercer at the Altronis’ jetty, but it was already broken. It was said that it had rammed into bedrock near the shore because of the strong waves and wind. Even though nobody was harmed, the main backbone of the ship had suffered a huge crack, rendering the wavepiercer useless. Nobody knew when the boat would split into two at sea.
So, even though the wavepiercer looked fine from the outside, the damage done to the main frame of the boat could be seen when it was flipped over. Just like the flipper Eriksson purchased, repairing it would cost not much less than buying a new one entirely.
“So you bought the broken flipper to use its frame for your wavepiercer?” Borkal said with realization, before he creased. “Wait, the frame of the flipper is only around five meters in length. Isn’t it a little too short to be used for the wavepiercer?”
Eriksson shook his head. “Nononono, I’m not trying to fix the wavepiercer nor the flipper. I want to put those two things together for a small fishing boat like Old Sunny’s.”
Sunny’s fishing boat was the one those four rented and used to sail to Egret. It cost them three riyases to rent it for two days.
“Actually, you didn’t realize that apart from the main backbone of the flipper, its whole frame is still intact. I just have to remove all the boards on the frame and use the better boards on the wavepiercer for a brand new, small fishing boat,” said Eriksson confidently.
“Well, we’ll need to install a wheel, folding mast, split the boat into three cabins, add the roofing, and so on. But we have old materials in the storeroom next to my family’s jetty. If we need to, we can also use the parts from the flipper or the wavepiercer and resize them to our needs. There’s no need to buy them anew. The only thing I have to consider is the labor cost.
“I’m sure you don’t know that Uncle Pegg, the jetty guard, used to be a boat repairman in his younger days. It was only after he hurt his leg while repairing a ship during a storm that he retired from sailing. I believe that he still has the skills because he once asked my father to get a new backbone piece for our wavepiercer and get him to fix it up, even if for free. Seeing the broken wavepiercer at the jetty seemed to unnerve him quite a bit.
“However, my father had already bought a new wavepiercer by then and the repairs, so he didn’t agree. I’m sure Uncle Pegg will be glad when we bring the broken flipper back here. I’ll tell him my specifications and help him out a bit. I’m sure I’ll be able to have my own fishing boat without having to wait too long.”
“Will your father scold you for this?” asked Borkal.
Eriksson gave it some thought and said, “He shouldn’t… If I ask him to buy me a gun like the two of you got, he might just ignore my request outright. But if I’m going to design my own fishing boat, I’m sure he’ll approve of it. Hey, I can even get him to pay the manpower to remodel it for me.”
Claude laughed at that thought. Given Captain Altroni’s love for bragging, he would definitely support his son’s boat-building efforts. If Eriksson succeeded, the captain could brag about his son’s capabilities in town. Which ship captain actually had a son that owned his own fishing boat at the age of sixteen? If Eriksson really managed to do it, the captain would definitely be able to show it off for quite a while.
After vaulting over the rear wall back into school, Claude put the pack of items into his desk drawer and prepared for the first period after recess: swordsmanship class.
The class tried to teach the students to master three basic sword types, namely, the rapier, the two-handed sword and the shortsword. The rapiers of this world were not that much different from those used in the west in Claude’s past world. They were light and mainly injured the enemy using thrusts. The two-handed swords on the other hand resembled Chinese seven-star swords, being moderately long and wide. However, its handle differed in that it was a foot long and could be wielded with two hands. It could hack and slash with great force. The shortsword on the other hand was a sharp weapon used in close-combat situations and was a weapon that all soldiers of the kingdom were armed with.
Normally, the academic stream students and female students who signed up for swordsmanship class would be taught to use the rapier mainly because they weren’t as athletic as physical stream students. Light and refined movements of the rapier became favored among them.
Physical stream students on the other hand had varied preferences. They could learn to use all three types of swords if they had the time, but the instructors would only give direct instruction for some basic skills. After that, they would let the students learn through mock fighting and give some pointers from time to time. They would also occasionally act as referees between student sparring matches.
Claude preferred the two-handed sword better and he got top place in the two-handed sword competition among the second-year students of his school. Even though Welikro was the strongest among the four, he didn’t pick the two-handed sword and preferred the shortsword like Eriksson. Eriksson used the shortsword because according to his father, it was easier to handle on a ship. An unwieldy two-handed sword couldn’t be used to its full potential in the restricted space of a ship and might even get caught up in nets or ropes.
Welikro on the other hand used it out of habit. His father had served in the military for 15 years as a guard and was only familiar with shortsword techniques. So, Welikro was only taught that. And as hunters, short weapons like shortswords, axes, and blades were much more practical in the forests. So, Welikro wasn’t interested in rapiers or two-handed swords at all. He was the top of the school when it came to using a shortsword.
Borkal on the other hand didn’t specialize in any weapon. He was familiar with all three types, but his grasp on them was only average. Claude was best at the two-handed sword, Welikro was best at the shortsword, and while Eriksson wasn’t number one with the shortsword, he ranked among the top three in a competition. Borkal on the other hand was among the bottom when it came to all three types and was only better than three other academic stream students.
After swordsmanship class, there was still two periods of horsemanship class. But Claude and the others wouldn’t be attending. Eriksson was going to get a few sailors to transport the broken flipper back to his private jetty. Since it wasn’t that far from the shop, they could easily use it by dragging it along the lake bank atop a large wooden board, so Eriksson didn’t ask the other three to help out.
Welikro on the other hand went with Borkal to his home to fetch his gun. They would also go to Borkal’s warehouses for a few targets before they would pick Claude up with a carriage and head to the outskirts of town to practice their shooting.
When Claude returned home, he took the case out from the underside of his bed and took his gun and the slow match out. He would also have to buy a new slow match when it burned out and took out three more similarly sized powder horns.
Powder horns were accessories that came with matchlock guns and were used to store powder. They were shaped just like hollowed out goat horns with holes on both sides. The large hole was used to fill the horn with gunpowder while the smaller one on the other hand was used to pour the gunpowder into the gun barrel. There were ten markings inside each horn that indicated the amount of gunpowder required to make a shot. Each powder horn could store exactly one unit of gunpowder, which was enough for ten shots.
Three full powder horns would allow him to shoot thirty shots. The horns also had two copper rings on their sides to allow for ease of carry. Claude recalled that Welikro had been wearing two black small cow horns on him during the trip that were probably used to store gunpowder as well.
Within the wooden box was a large leather sack that resembled a money pouch. There was a live knot on the top of the sack and it was used to store the gun. It could be slung around the waist for ease of access to the gun.
Claude put 30 bullets into the leather sack and thought, I’ll just practise firing 30 shots for now. Wero said that the recoil is rather strong, so it’s best if I don’t shoot too often at first or I’ll wake up with a sore shoulder tomorrow…