Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Mississippi vs. Murray River Paddle Steamers
It looks a bit like a Mississippi paddle steamer and its a total fake.
The worst bit is not that its a reproduction, nor that the wheel is spinning freely rather than powering the vessel.
No, what bugs me is that there is a strong maritime tradition in London and there's no need for such an import, and I keep wondering who exactly its meant to appeal to.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have problems with Mississippi paddle steamers and on that great river I'd like to give them a try. But they are not right for the Thames, no, no, no.
Nor the Huangpu River in Shanghai either come to that:
paddle steamer they had at Echuca and was relieved to see that the Murray River had its own design and these boats were in keeping with that tradition (see top photo).
Both Mississippi and Murray River boats had similar requirements, mostly transporting cargo, but there are design differences driven by the widths of the rivers.
The Mississippi river is wide, so when hauling cargo their paddle steamers could attach barges to the side. But that wouldn't work on the narrow Murray, which must therefore tow them behind the boat, where, should the skipper hit reverse, they would smash into any paddle that was at the stern.
Therefore on the Murray River where the paddle steamers tow their freight behind them the paddles must be on the side of the boat, not its stern.
In addition as the river often has overhanging trees the boats can't have high chimney stacks or more than 3 stories.
The Mississippi and Murry paddle steamers were designed differently to take into account the differences in the rivers on which they travel.
So don't go transplanting paddle steamers onto rivers where they don't belong.