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Boats of Ashaba
From the journals of Chamborn Silverwing, acolyte in waiting for the esteemed high Geographer Moklarn Oulmarn, in the service of his highness the honorable King Azoun IV of Cormyr the blessed.
The great river Ashaba makes its way from its springs in the deep valleys and slopes of the northern Thunder peaks to its destination by the coast near Scardale. As it slowly flows through the ancient elven woods, parts of its waters constantly runs out into creeks and springs between the ancient trees and more comes into the river from others.The heavily wooded banks with the shadowy overhangs of rhododendron and willow have also become the site of most of the major human dwellings of the western dalelands and one can say that the river is the life-ore of these lands. In Cormanthor the waterways has always been the safest form of natural transportation and since the days of the elves there has been almost more traffic on the river than on the forest paths.
Even if the Ashaba has its share of dangers, such as the giant Quezarn eels of the deep central part of the river, the main hindrance for boat farers has always been the river itself with its shallows and sandbanks that in areas make it almost impossible for anything larger than a canoe to pass further up river. But, the gods and time find their way around most problems and today the steadings and villages have cropped up around these crossing points where man can cross the river more or less on foot, for the boatsmen this means that the cargo can be hauled over in other boats and barges able to handle the parts of the river their own vessel is unsuited for or, in the case of flat bottomed barges, help can be had in hauling the boat over the shallows with the help of rolling logs.This means that even if it is impossible for most boats to travel the entire length of the Ashaba, it is possible for one to travel the length of the Ashaba by boat.Most of the travel on the great river is made by one of three types of boat:
The most common boat on the lower reaches of the river is the Koron, the boats of our own coast and waterways. This boat is common throughout all lands that share in the common great tongue of Thorass and is the preferred vessel also in the Dales where the river itself lets it be used. Mainly a coastal ship, the Koron is also perfect for deep river sailing.The shallow keeled boat is a usually around fifteen feet long one master with a low-built deck and sometimes a raised stern-house, containing the captains sleeping quarters. Just as often this will just be a tent-like structure. These boats can be managed by a crew of two to four and have a rather large carrying capacity. It is also the fastest of the boats when its sail can be used and light enough that three or four rowers can get it up river at a reasonable pace if lightly loaded. The downside of the Koron is that its keel makes it somewhat vulnerable to the shallows, especially if heavily loaded. For this reason the boats are only common up to the Pool of Yeven and seldom seen over the Ashabenford as this crossing is near impossible for korons and the Bournbarge is here the queen of the river.The Bournbarge is a flatbottomed wooden barge with a cargo-hold under deck and a central structure that serves as living area and defensive structure. It has been likened with a floating hat. As orc raids and troll attacks unfortunately are more common in these lands than in those under the protection of his majesty, these defensive elements are a great boon for people traveling the river. This boat-type is similar to those found on the rivers east of the Storm Horns and are driven forward by a poling crew. The size of the Bournbarge can vary somewhat, but twenty to thirty feet length and ten to fifteen feet width is common. The boat is because of its flat bottom less restricted when it comes to how shallow it can go and where it can pull up on land. The boat has an even greater carrying capacity than the Koron, but it is slow and demands a large crew, preferably between eight and ten men at a minimum. This limits its popularity somewhat.
The third boat-type and the one most commonly used by the Dalesmen themselves in their daily lives, is the elven canoe, known as the Nil-Qualiir. The Nil-Qualiir is built from hollowed out logs and is a light vessel, somewhat broad for a canoe. The length can vary greatly from two man fishing boats to trading canoes able to carry both goods and a dozen rowers. The canoes are usually painted with green colours made from the sap of the Lower-Tiiran bushes, mixed with the leaves of some unknown plant. The outside of the hull is usually decorated if of elven make, and the practice is also common among the people of Mistledale. Other dalesmen usually leaves the vessel bare.The canoes are so light that they can be carried through the woods easily by the number of people they were created for and the smaller ones are able to sail even the creeks and pools of the interior Cormanthor.Captains I have met...
Captain Durail of BattledaleCaptain Durail is the master of a sleek Koron that he has equipped with a series of inward-leaning iron shields that form an irregular tent protecting the boat and its crew from arrows and aerial attacks. The main victim in this case is the boats aesthetic. It has been said that Durail created a vessel so ugly that all the priests of the cursed Talona of Chondath could have thought out anything worse. I have seen the ship and I agree, but the fact remains that Durails boat is one of the safest ways of transportation on the river.
Durail is from Battledale and was born on the river. He inherited his fathers boat at the age of fifteen and in the twenty years since he has spent more time on the river than almost any other living human. He will take on passengers, but is expensive, costing two gold pieces per day and demanding to be payed in local (that is used in Sembia, Cormyr or the dales) currency. If carrying goods he prefers lighter goods to compensate for the weight of the shields, this ables him to compete with any other Koron on the river. As Durail is also suspected of smuggling the extra speed is quite useful.
The boats crew consists of five men that all are experienced boatsmen that can do each others job blindfolded.
Captain Belduvil Horn
Captain Belduvin Horns Bournbarge is a welcome sight along the shores of Ashaba. The boat is jokingly called the River-cow, but be careful, jokes about the name is one thing; jokes about the boat herself has led to blood. Belduvin is a hin trader originally from the Sunset Vale that has made a well respected name for himself for quality goods and quality prices. For the same reason he is strongly disliked by several other traders in the area.Belduins boat is manned by a crew of twelve tethens out of Elturel that traveled to the dalelands along with him twelve years ago. Their families took up residents in Featherdale and the twelve learned boat-craft. Belduin has often said that humans are among the gods best ideas; how else could a hin captain a pole-boat like the River-cow? The crew earn a few extra coins as entertainers and claims to be Gur musicians as the legends about the western people gives them a more colourful flare and few people here know the difference.
The family vessel of Captain Sulpharin and her sons does not have the best of reputations in the Dalelands. Her Bournbarge has a reputation as a smuggler vessel most places along the Ashaba, but she is also suspected of being a pirate vessel and her crew of being responsible for quite a few murders along the river. I have been told by the famed bard Llewelyn that Sulphin was ones a beauty talked about in four kingdoms; there is little left of this today in the spitefully determined and hateful woman.The crew consists of Captein Sulpharin herself, her eight sons and about twenty ruffians that seem more at home with crossbows and hand axes than they do with the poles. The vessel is also equipped with two light catapults on the top of the mid-deck building.
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