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A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by rowing, they have been used since before written history. The galley is characterised by its long, slender hull, shallow draft and low freeboard (clearance between sea and railing). Virtually all types of galleys have sails that can used in favourable winds, but people strength is always the primary method of propulsion. This allows galleys to navigate independently of winds and currents.   Galleys are primarily used as military vessels, often having a catapult or ballista mounted as well as an archer tower fore and aft of the ship. On occasion a galley may be reinforced at the front with a bronze ram to allow it to ram other ships causing devastating damage.   Galleys have since their first appearance in ancient times been intended as highly manoeuvrable vessels, independent of winds by being rowed, and usually with a focus on speed under oars. The profile has therefore been that of a markedly elongated hull with a ratio of breadth to length at the waterline of at least 1:5, the measurement of how much of a ship's structure that is submerged under water.   To make it possible to efficiently row the vessels, the freeboard, the height of the railing to the surface of the water, is by necessity kept low. This gives oarsmen enough leverage to row efficiently, but at the expense of seaworthiness. These design characteristics make the galley fast and manoeuvrable, but more vulnerable to rough weather.     Cruising speed of 6-7 knots can be maintained by rowing for an entire day. Sprinting speeds of up to 9 knots are possible, but only for a few minutes and will tire the crew quickly. Sailing is possible with the wind more or less astern with a top speed of 8-9 knots in fair conditions.


Sail and Oar

35 to 40 m (114.8 to 131.2 ft)
7 knots/12.9 kmph/8 mph

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