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"Difference between a Piragua and a Shallop?" Topic

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nnascati Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2022 2:11 p.m. PST

I've already made a pair of Shallops for my 18mm minis, based on images found on the web. The Piragua seems to be a fairly similar craft. Can anyone enlighten me?

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 Nov 2022 4:17 p.m. PST


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2022 4:18 p.m. PST

Yes, not seafood!

Thresher0111 Nov 2022 6:31 p.m. PST

The Perigua is basically a hollowed out tree turned into a sea-going canoe.

I've seen the Firelock Games interpretation of it, and mention that it was widened by Europeans to carry more gear. I don't know if that is historically correct, or just an option chosen to make it easier to put figs in them.

The impression I have always had of them is that they are only about shoulder-width wide, and paddlers sat one behind another in the craft. Rudimentary masts and sails could be rigged on them to permit longer and faster transit with ease – usually two per craft. They may or may not have had rudders, depending upon the craft, maker, period, etc.. This includes up to and including the 1710 – 1720 period, since I recall reading about pirates sailing from the Bahamas to Cuba in order to conduct transit and pirate raids on the mainland and vessels offshore.

A number were active around Cuban waters in taking down sloops and other larger vessels anchored near the island back in the day. Two – three Periguas were used to seize at least one sloop or other merchant in a small, SW bay along the Cuban coast, back in the day. Presumably those on the larger vessel thought they were just locals seeking to trade or communicate, until it was too late.

Shallops are basically shallow draft sloops (a Dutch invention I believe, since they were needed to ply the very shallow waters between their barrier islands). Most images/drawings/paintings of them seem to indicate they are Dutch craft.

Some were used around the North American continent too, as either fishing or small trading vessels.

Sloops are already shallow draft vessels, but from what I've read the Shallops were even more so.

Rigging of the Shallop may be different than that of Sloops too. Perhaps an angled crossbeam across the mainmast like on Galleys, as opposed to one at right angles like on sloops.

Thresher0111 Nov 2022 7:18 p.m. PST



Piragua (note – there are numerous spellings for this vessel, e.g. Perigua, Piragua, Periagua, etc.)



Thresher0111 Nov 2022 7:21 p.m. PST

Construction method for Periagua:


They use flame and hot coals to help hollow out the tree. Note the branches to help spread and keep the sides in place until they dry and harden.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2022 7:25 p.m. PST

Thresher01, thanks. So basically the Firelock Games version is totally off?

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2022 7:27 p.m. PST

Looks similar to the Cajun pirogue (pronounced pee-ro) and American Indian log canoes from the southern US. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has one in its collection that was excavated from a stream in the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta.


Thresher0111 Nov 2022 7:44 p.m. PST

I don't know, but I did find it to be an odd design.

Someone on-line mentioned that Europeans inserted essentially a board into the bottom, between the two sides, in order to make a wider vessel. Makes sense if that can be done, but I'd never heard of this being done before, though of course I'm no expert on period vessels.

I suppose that could be done, but don't know if it was done historically. Seems somewhat plausible, I suppose, if they can figure out a way to mate the two sides with the flat bottom, and then seal effectively to waterproof it. Good for hauling cargo, but from a practical standpoint, it is so much more beamy as to be much harder to paddle at speed. Perhaps that's where the sails come in.

Some Cypress trees can be very wide at their bases, so perhaps those were used as is, and didn't need an board insert in the middle.

Seems like their design is basically a very poor man's/natives, longboat/dinghy.

A lot of natives around the world have produced and used hollowed out trees for dugout canoes. Thinner, longer vessels are a lot more efficient for speed, whether being paddled, or under sail.

As shown above, they'd use fire/coals, and/or axes and other tools to hollow them out.

I plan to try to make some more traditional-style Periguas for my forces. I just need to find some paddlers, and/or sitting figures, to put inside them.

And, no, they won't have a swivel gun in the bow(s) either. Muskets and pistols carried by those in the vessel(s) will be the heaviest armament.

Cerdic12 Nov 2022 6:30 a.m. PST

I've never heard the word ‘piragua' before. Any long, thin thing that you sit in and paddle is called a canoe…

jefritrout13 Nov 2022 9:26 a.m. PST

By that logic, anything that someone lives in is a house. Doesn't matter if it's a mansion, a shack, a bungalow, a cottage, Tudor, Georgian or a palace, they're all houses with no need to differentiate.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2022 10:05 a.m. PST

And from the old Louisiana song lyric:

" Jumbalaya crawfish pie 'an a file gumbo
gon' go pole a pirogue down the bayou…"

Legionarius14 Nov 2022 7:22 p.m. PST

Piragua is the word commonly used throughout the Spanish Caribbean to describe a vessel carved out of a hollowed tree trunk as described above. Such vessels could be short or very long. But they were always very narrow. Columbus described piraguas that carried up to eighty Taino natives. They were used for inter island voyages by both the Taino and the Caribs. The same vessels are called pirogues in the French Caribbean and Louisiana. Old Glory has a fancy piragua with a carved prow in its "Pirates" line manned by rowing "cannibals" that could stand for Caribs or Tainos.

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