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Who builds better ships?

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4 hours ago, HelmHammerhand said:

If I could supply my own answer, I would go with the Summer Islanders....

Indeed, they have the most modern ships in Planetos.

Also, OP forgot the Ibbanese. IIRC, they have big whalers ships.

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Ibbanese are said to have very strong ships and the Summer Islands have very mordern ships in comparison to the rest of the world. Although IMO Bravvos has the strongest FLEET in the world. 

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Ironborn bc they would kill all those ship makers who had quality problems and sometimes they even build their own ships that they use.

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Longships were marvels of naval engineering in their time. Their shallow drafts and ability to go upriver has real value, as was their ability to withstand storms and high waves in the North Sea and th North Atlantic. But they fell out of favor because they were small and their sailing capabilities were limited compared to later, multi-masted vessels.

Braavos's galleys are a marvel in their own way, the result of developing a means of pre-fabricating all the parts of a ship and putting them together in a systematic way. But galleys are a technology that the world moved away from for various reasons, not least because they are relatively inefficient. In a pre-gunpowder era, however, they are superior ships for naval warfare compared to the carracks and cogs that are the alternatives.

As others say, the real answer is that the Summer Islanders have made the most advanced ships in the world, swift and capable of long voyages far at sea in a way that galleys are not while being substantially larger than the longships of the ironborn. 

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It is the Summer Islanders and the Ibbenese. They are the two cultures who really explore the deep oceans. The others are children compared to these two.

Perhaps Valyria also built great ships - but we don't know at that point. And the Yi Tish and the Lengi'i might also have great ships, of course.

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Groleo of Pentos points out that he is not a shipwright, but adds that

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ships are made of rope and pitch and canvas, of Qohorik pine and teak from Sothoryos, old oak from Great Norvos, yew and ash and spruce.

(ADwD, Ch.30 Daenerys V)

Rope and canvas are both made from hemp, pitch from pines.

Boats need timbers that are knot-free, with a fine, straight grain, dense and buoyant, strong and light, not prone to rot or warp. That almost invariably means well seasoned wood from very old trees, typically hundreds of years old, that have grown in dense wet forests (where they have to compete for scarce sunlight by growing straight and tall, while resisting rot). It is often important that the wood for the hull can be steamed and bent into shape (rainforest timbers like teak are good for this).

For the load-bearing timbers of the frame, strength is required so a wood with a high silica content. For knees (the curved part of the boat frame that bore the highest load) what is needed is a tree that not only grows tall with a thick straight trunk, but also has thick strong primary branches as well (because that angle between the trunk and the branch is shaped into the knee, and it needs to be strong) English oak is good, white oak is better - but the boat builder, or a forester that understands boat building, has to go out and spot the particular trees that will do individually, and they have to be felled and transported and milled in ways that preserve their structural integrity. 

So, it seems to me that Braavos is probably not on the face of it a good place for profitable ship building enterprises in spite of its large merchant and defensive navies - no trees, no room for hemp cultivation - there is hardly enough real estate and water to grow fresh produce to meet the needs of the denizens of the city. Like most things, their wood, pitch, canvas and hemp have to be shipped in from elsewhere. They need water and fuel to make the steam to bend the wood, too. On the plus side, as the aquaduct and canals show, they are very cluey about getting in water. And fuels make good ballast. But getting the materials in to Braavos is always going to be more expensive than building a shipyard in a place like Bear Island or White Harbor, that is surrounded by them.

Ship building is also very labour intensive, requiring a variety of highly skilled artisans and a hoard of unskilled labourers too. This gives an economic advantage to a culture that embraces slavery, especially one where slaves are trained up in particular areas of expertise. It is no accident that the great naval powers of the sixteenth century (and of the classical world) were all slave traders, and their navys grew as the slave trade grew.

A culture that embraced colonisation is more likely to have governments and non-state actors that will invest in large ships of war and transports (for troops and for slaves). Braavos has a democratic government with an emphasis on free trade - that tends to support smaller and slower boats. travelling slowly in convoys along trade routes to deep harbours with docks and warehouses, avoiding shoals and shallows and hopefully pirates, that they cannot hope to out-manoeuvre, with their big bellies filled until the waterline is almost to the deck, and their crews as small as can be contrived.

On the plus side for a Braavosi boat-builder, there is a strong and constant demand for ships and ship repairs in Braavos. Braavos also has the most powerful bank in the world, it is led by a sealord, and it's navy (like Britain's) is it's wooden walls. Both their traders and their government understand the value of a navy and are prepared to invest in one.  State investment and subsidisation have historically been a critical factor in the building of large navies and innovative ships.

With a state keen enough to put in the money, the expenses of sourcing materials from other lands and paying for labour that other places exploit for nothing, become less of an issue. A ship, once built, can give service for up to a century, and (if a trading vessel) might return the cost of it's building with only one or two voyages (to the spice isles or some other super-profitable venture). A military ship might be the difference between being a powerful trading empire, and not existing at all, so the expense of a navy might be, like the expense of deep harbours, regarded as a common good, a justifiable and prudent item to invest customs duties and poll taxes in.

Given the constant link between slave-trading expansionist colonial powers and naval might in real-world history, it seems to me that Braavos is must be on the verge of becoming that, or that in fact the Bank of Braavos has triangulated the slave trade a long time ago, but the Braavosi that Arya and Sam meet are unaware of the role of the bank and the sealord, the trade and the navy, in other parts of the world. Thinking about it, a city state with a large navy, that isn't supporting colonial factories full of unwaged, unfranchised compulsory workers requires a greater suspension of disbelief than magical dragons. 

Westeros also seems to be notably lacking in expansionist ambition. Except for Euron, the Westerosi navies aspire only to conquer each other . Volantis is a different story, though.

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The tigers held sway for almost a century after the Doom of Valyria. For a time they were successful. A Volantene fleet took Lys and a Volantene army captured Myr, and for two generations all three cities were ruled from within the Black Walls. That ended when the tigers tried to swallow Tyrosh. Pentos came into the war on the Tyroshi side, along with the Westerosi Storm King. Braavos provided a Lyseni exile with a hundred warships, Aegon Targaryen flew forth from Dragonstone on the Black Dread, and Myr and Lys rose up in rebellion. The war left the Disputed Lands a waste, and freed Lys and Myr from the yoke. The tigers suffered other defeats as well. The fleet they sent to reclaim Valyria vanished in the Smoking Sea. Qohor and Norvos broke their power on the Rhoyne when the fire galleys fought on Dagger Lake. Out of the east came the Dothraki, driving smallfolk from their hovels and nobles from their estates, until only grass and ruins remained from the forest of Qohor to the headwaters of the Selhoru. After a century of war, Volantis found herself broken, bankrupt, and depopulated. It was then that the elephants rose up. They have held sway ever since. Some years the tigers elect a triarch, and some years they do not, but never more than one, so the elephants have ruled the city for three hundred years.

(ADwD, Ch.14 Tyrion IV)

this passage implies that the Stormlands, Tyrosh, Pentos, Qohor and Norvos also had navies.

Lys and Volantis clearly still do. New Ghis, Tolos, and Mantarys might be allied with Yunkai'i because they realise that they are the next in line to be sacked, if Daenerys is left to decide the matter. But it seems to me that Volantis and Qarth have imperial ambitions, and are using their alliance with the Yunkai to get in and carve themselves out a concession in Slaver's bay. Volantis, first child of Valyria, is not a natural ally of the Ghiscari.

 

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The cedars that had once grown tall along the coast grew no more, felled by the axes of the Old Empire or consumed by dragonfire when Ghis made war against Valyria. Once the trees had gone, the soil baked beneath the hot sun and blew away in thick red clouds. “It was these calamities that transformed my people into slavers,” Galazza Galare had told her

 (ADwD,Ch.16 Daenerys III)

That might just be the way the Green Grace spins it to Daenarys, but it explains why the cities of Slaver's bay, so dependant on international trade, have no navy or merchant navy to speak of.  (A slave-trading city without a colonising navy is almost as much of an oddity as a free city with one).

Yunkai has a forest of birch (which rots easily), and Meereen has groves of olive (knotty gnarly wood) but it seems nobody has attempted to replant the  cedars (excellent maritime timber, good to work, but strong) in the last 300 years.

It is interesting that, in Slaver's bay and apparently throughout the world, copper has low value and apparently none to shipbuilders. The English started cladding the hulls of their boats with copper to make them fast, waterproof and protect from shipworm in the fifteenth century. It caught on, and the price of copper boomed whenever the ship building trade did for the next three centuries.

GRRM's naval technology must be older - although he has naval technologies from a broad time range. Stuff like Victarion's collapsible telescopes (late 18th century technology) on the one hand, and on the other, the Swan ships from the Summer Isles (bronze age technology, but apparently vastly superior thanks to the choice of wood for their hulls).

There doesn't seem to be any technological impediment to lining hulls with copper, beyond nobody thinking to do it. Renly and the Dothraki have no trouble getting their hands on copper tubs. the Dornish wear copper helmets, Maester Balabar has a copper funnel, Marwyn, Haggon and Ramsey have copper kettles and Braavos has copper domes... so the coppersmiths are clearly up to the task, as soon as someone realises the advantages of lining their ships bottoms with it.

I think perhaps the Summer Islands naval forces are a cross between the South Sea Islands waka taua  and Tolkien's elven ships.

Hizdahr's rooms in the Great Pyramid of Meereen have supporting spars of black oak, that seem very good for ship building purposes. There was enough combustible material in the pyramids of Hazkar and Yherizan to keep them burning in the rain for days, and enough combustible material in the pyramids of Astapor to burn them out too.

Looking at places that have forests that might yield suitable timbers:

Lots of places in the North of Westeros: wolfswood, Deepwood, the Neck,Umber lands, Hornwood forests, in the Gift around the Night's Fort and Queenscrown, in the hills of the Norries and the Flints, Bear Island.

We know there is a navy, newly built, in the White Knife at White Harbor, and that Jorah Mormont built a single ship in Bear Island.  But the North seems to have had no naval forces in living memory apart from these recent and not extensive efforts.  Historically, there are strong hints of a navy in firth at White Knife long before the Manderleys arrived: 

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The Den was much older than White Harbor, the knight told Davos. It had been raised by King Jon Stark to defend the mouth of the White Knife against raiders from the sea.

... Reavers from the Three Sisters took the castle once, making it their toehold in the north. During the wars between Winterfell and the Vale, it was besieged by Osgood Arryn, the Old Falcon, and burned by his son, the one remembered as the Talon. When old King Edrick Stark had grown too feeble to defend his realm, the Wolf’s Den was captured by slavers from the Stepstones. They would brand their captives with hot irons and break them to the whip before shipping them off across the sea, and these same black stone walls bore witness.
“Then a long cruel winter fell, ... the new king come down on them. Brandon Stark this was, Edrick Snowbeard’s great-grandson, him that men called Ice Eyes. He took the Wolf’s Den back, stripped the slavers naked, and gave them to the slaves he’d found chained up in the dungeons. It’s said they hung their entrails in the branches of the heart tree, as an offering to the gods.

(ADwD, Ch.29 Davos IV)

At Winterfell, the only allusion to naval forces in the ancient North are Bran the Shipwright and Bran the Burner. It seems odd and slightly suspicious to me that the West Coast of the North, and Bear Island, which has been harried by the Ironmen in Maege Mormont's time, and visited by Tyroshi slavers in Jorah's, should have no ship building industry but the one ship he banged together to escape to Essos in. Same for Deepwood Motte, Moat Calin, Greywater. I could understand if King Arys II or Aegon I had given some ultimatum that the North would have no navy but that of the crown, although it seems to me that Robert Baratheon might have relaxed rules like that, especially when putting down Balon's first rebellion, and afterwood ensuring the peace was kept.

This account from the Wolf Den also makes mention of reavers from the Three Sisters, and kings from the Vale. A navy from the Vale (which we have otherwise heard nothing about) fighting with a Northern navy (ditto). The Sistermen don't seem to have lost their appetite for plunder, smuggling and betrayal, although they display a semblence of respect for the authority of the true Warden of the East by only conspiring against him in secret.  The forests of the Mountains of the Moon and the Giant's Lance have the right sort of timber, and even supposing the Mountains of the Moon are too rugged and clan-infested to harvest and transport timber, there are Snakewood and Coldwater Burn right there in the webs of the Fingers, just the places to stuff hidden navies,  and their slippery Lord Protector is just the type to hide an army in the inlets supposedly allied with his Lord Declarant rival, Bronze Yohn. Petyr Baelish has also been investing himself in the Gulltown merchant navy these last twenty years at least.

The Riverlands are too far inland for the most part, and too long converted to agriculture, to furnish or feel the need for a navy since Harren built Harrenhal. Seaguard and Oldstones might have been useful places to have a navy before then, and we know from Merret's epilogue that there are forests around Oldstones with Elms (buoyant timber, resistant to rotting).

The woods around Harrenhal could be accessed by river, but given the proximity to the God's Eye they might be sacred or part of the Pact of the God's Eye. The other possible site for shipbuilding in the Riverlands would be along the Trident between Castle Darry to the Saltpans. The combination of the timber and the river to transport it, and the bay and docks at the Saltpans, to float the finished product in and out, might make it a worthwhile. But it doesn't seem to be an industry that is already established. Perhaps the shallowness of the tidal estuary around the Quiet Isle makes  the draft too shallow or the currents too strong to float ships out safely. I'm not sure if they grow hemp or if that was just a notion of Ser Hyle's, but the cleared parts of the Riverlands seem to be a good place for it. 

In the far North, beyond the wall, there are the forests of the Frostfangs and the Haunted forest and just about everywhere else before the plains of the Lands of Always Winter. There are also whole tribes of Wildlings dependant on fishing and harassed by slave traders from Tyrosh and Lys. But they don't seem to have had a navy. Perhaps because the Night's Watch at Eastwatch have been assiduously policing them to prevent them building warships or training crews to man boats to slip around to the south in.

King's Wood does have a Navy, as to be expected in a place established by a naval power 300 years ago precisely because it had a good harbour and was surrounded by the right trees for shipbuilding. Dragonstone, where that Naval power had been based for a generation before the conquest, which definitely did have ships then, did not appear to have ships in the era of Aerys II. Dragonstone did destroy Aerys fleet, the night Daenerys was born. I'm not sure if Robert's fleet was entirely built in King's Landing and then sailed to Dragonstone, or if it was partly built on Dragonstone after Jon Arryn died. The Velaryons seem to have had ships, so maybe Dragonstone still had ship builders.

It seems that the Storm Lords, that made their name as a naval force, have not had a ship to speak of since Steffon Baratheon died, in spite of the availability of natural resorces.

I would think that Crackclaw point would be a good place for smugglers to repair their ships, although Duskendale would be a better place for a shipyard. And there is a market in Duskendale for repairing ships, if not actually for building them.

We know Lannisport had a fleet that was burnt at anchor in Balon's first rebellion, and apparently never replaced. That Dorne had not had a fleet since Nymeria burnt her boats.

Other places that seem to me should have navies and shipwrights, that I don't think we have heard of yet, are Ibben, the Basalisk Isles, Qohor, the Isle of Cedars, and New Ghis

We know that the Ironborn do have a fleet, and at least two shipwrights. Ambrode, who is old, and Sigrin who in Theon's opinion is thick witted. Still, there is no doubt the Ironborn have leathally fast ships. 

So, to answer the OP's question, I would say the best warships would be built by the Ironborn, and that Pentoshi shipwrights make more and better trading vessels than the Braavosi. I'd rate Braavos above the Reach for shipwrights, because they are a culture focused on trading by sea, while the Reach seem to do a lot of wine and agriculture, so while their real estate and labour might be slightly less expensive than Braavos, their skilled labour would be in seasonal competition with agriculture (which would drive up wages as well as lowering the general focus on boat-building.) It is also likely that they would be doing a lot of trading up the Mander, to the Westerlands, Riverlands and Crownlands. So they might prefer to build small boats with shallow draft, carracks and barges only just sturdy enough to get to the Sheild Iles, rather than more expensive large sea-going vessels, which would only be really necessary for international shipping out of the Arbor and Oldtown. 

Oldtown's shipwrights might be spurred to innovation by having a Citadel, but I don't know. Marwyn seems to be the only Archmaester that goes down to the docks, and he hasn't shown much interested in naval engineering. There is no mention of shipwrights at Oldtown, and Humphrey Hightower is in Lys, attempting to supplement their small naval force with Lyseni sellswords. The Oldtown navy does at least appear to be orderly and alert, in marked contrast to Renly's huge army. Willas, at Highgarden, with his interest in astronomy and studiousness, might also be a force for naval innovation. We haven't really learnt enough about what is happening at Highgarden - all we know is that the Tyrells are right on to the Ironborn invasion, to the extent Cersei allows.

I'm guessing that Winds of Winter will be all about naval forces and naval battles, given how much of what we know about the navies of Planetos was set up in Dance with Dragons.

TL;DR Iron Isles, Pentos, Braavos, Reach in that order.

Edited by Walda

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Interesting fact is that by Search of Ice and Fire main purpose of "tar" is to stop rotting of loose heads. 

I was curious bc in real world wooden ships and their ropes needed a lot of tar to keep them in business, but in Planetos only non Westerosi ships use tar. 

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On 1/19/2019 at 12:07 AM, Leo of House Cartel said:

The decline of Driftmark....

Sea Snake must be gazing down/up from some watery afterlife, with a single solitary tear running down his cheek.

Oh, by the time of the Regency Driftmark looks still very strong - they were much stronger still before the Gullet, but Alyn Velaryon is not a minor lord.

Unless some other great tragedy strikes between 136 AC and Robert's Rebellion I'd say the destruction of the Targaryen fleet off Dragonstone in the night of Dany's birth - most ships would have been Velaryon ships, presumably - in combination with Robert flat-out barring them from replacing the lost war ships after he took power - and placing the entire newly built royal fleet under Stannis' command as Lord of Dragonstone - is what caused the Velaryons to decline.

Prior to that they should have still been pretty great lords. Not as great as the Sea Snake, of course, but Alyn Oakenfist seems to have been not that far behind his (grand)father insofar as fame is concerned.

House Velaryon should have reaped great rewards just for the role Lord Alyn played in the Conquest of Dorne.

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8 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

main purpose of "tar" is to stop rotting of loose heads. 

And the main purpose of "pitch" is to chuck it at the enemy in battle. And hempen rope is used mainly for hanging people.

It is as if GRRM didn't give much thought to naval engineering until Clash of Kings forced him to, although he had clearly plotted a fair bit of naval action in the current books from the start - Viserys' (now Daenerys') plans to invade Westeros necessarily involved ships, and rightly bothered King Robert from the start. In retrospect, Stannis departing to Dragonstone with the entire Royal fleet ought to concerned both Robert and Eddard more than it did too. But these plot points, and foreshadowing for future Ironborn raids, were clearly there from the start. 

Perhaps the lack of detail is because the first three books have been told largely from land-lubber points of view. In the whole of A Game of Thrones, the only use of 'pitch' is to describe something black. I could only find one reference to tar (for heads) as well (although this could be because I searched with white space before and after the tar, to avoid wading through endless references to Starks, Targaryens, and bastards).

But it could also be because GRRM always intended to ease us into the period detail, rather than launch straight into excruciating particulars, Patrick O'Brian style. (Which, of course, would also kind of force GRRM to commit to a particular period's technology - in boat styles, he cherry-picks from ancient Greek triremes to 19th century whalers - perhaps doing a quiet bit of tightening up certain specifications in Feast and Dance. And he already gets criticized for extraneous details. Still, I bet he regrets making the Ibbanese deep sea whalers, obsessed with bringing blubber to the world somehow, apparently because they just like to smell of it?)

Game is a terrestrial-based book, focused on the Starks in the North and King's Landing. Dany is in an exotic land far from it, on a horseback, in a tribe with a cultural aversion to seawater. The only actual sea voyage in it is Catelyn's trip on Storm Dancer from White Harbor to King's Landing.

Apart from that, Vayan Poole finds the Wind Witch, and whether it was really out of Braavos or Myr, nobody got on it and it didn't sail from King's Landing.  There were other proposed sea voyages that came to nothing: Khal Drogo talked of getting a fleet of ships and invading Westeros when he set out for Slaver's Bay via Lhazareen lands (which implied Meereen had a navy - although we didn't hear anything about it directly until Dance). Ser Jorah talks to Dany of going to Asshai (apparently overland) and getting a ship to Pentos from there.

Clash of Kings gets right into the naval theme straight up, first chapter Dragonstone, on the eve of Stannis setting off for the mainland. It introduces Davos, so we have a seafarers point of view for the first time. Immediately after Davos's first chapter we are re-introduced to Theon as a seafarer and a point of view character.

Tyrion does a dockside tour of military defences of King's Landing before sending Myrcella to Dorne, Dany meets Quhuru Mo of the Cinnamon Wind, negotiates with Qartheen trading guilds for ships, heads off to the docks of Qarth where she conveniently finds three sent for her from Pentos. Jojen warns that the sea is coming to Winterfell, Theon gives us a short excursion to the Stoney Shore and a longer one to Pyke.  Davos gives us a quick tour on the naval side of Storms Ends, as well as a naval view of the Battle of Blackwater.

But still, there is not a lot about how ships are built and sailed. The focus is on military rather than naval concerns, even when the battles are on water. The tar is for heads or rum, perhaps except for on the Qartheen docks where

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The air smelled of salt and frying fish, of hot tar and honey, of incense and oil and sperm.

(ACoK, Ch.63 Daenerys V)

Not a wiff of bilge-water, raw fish, seaweed. Most of his choices don't seem to be even outdoors smells. The hot tar might be for waterproofing vessels or piers, but then again, maybe it is being used to warm honey to roast mice with.

Pitch is for lighting, immediately prior to catapulting casks or barrels of it. Also for lighting, as in fuel for torches in the crypts of Winterfell.  The one reference relating pitch to boat-building implies that it is something you only smell in the fresh-sawn timber of a brand new boat like the Sea Bitch:

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The longship was so new that she still smelled of pitch and resin.

(ACoK, Ch.24 Theon II)

Tar on the other hand (the only time it is mentioned in relation to ships), is a smell associated with hard use:

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a huge Ibbenese whaler that reeked of tar and blood and whale oil

(AFfC, Ch.34 Cat Of The Canals)

Storm of Swords has a lot of people navigating rivers - wildlings coming down the Milkwater, Lannisters on the forks of the Trident, Davos and Tyrion on Blackwater bay, Daenarys observing the Worm and invading Meereen from the Skahazdahn. Sansa takes her first ever sail to the Fingers on the Merling King, and we could assume from her deft familiarity with boats that the Maid of Tarth has some coastal sailing experience too. Stannis gets to the wall without a point of view character, and while he brings men from Eastwatch with him, it is not until Feast for Crows that we start to learn of the Black Brother's fleet.  When I look at it, it seems striking that there is so little sea, and so much water in Storm.

In Feast, Arya and Samwell becomes seaborne points of view and gain maritime experience in  Braavos, while the Ironborn get three new points of view, all experienced mariners. Euron returns from abroad with plans that scatter them across the oceans of Planetos. Arianne and Brienne travel along the coastlines of Westeros.

Even compared to Feast, the maritime themes really ramp up in  A Dance with Dragons. Tyrion, Victarion and  Quentyn go by sea to Meereen.  Daenarys is blockaded by a Qartheen and a Meereenese navy. Davos sails from the Sisters to White Harbor with many an appraising glance at their naval defences, Reek gives us a good look at the defences of Moat Calin, and Asha of Deepwood Motte.

Even landlocked points of view get a glimpse of the sea: Melisandre sees visions of a port city, Jon gets dispatches from the fleet he sent out of Eastwatch to Hardhome. Tycho Nestoris comes to him, and to Asha. Qyburn brings news from the docks of King's Landing about their fleets in the Stepstones and Dragonstone, the depredations of Euron's and the landing of JonCon's in the Reach, to Cersei and Kevan.

Dance also retcons maritime stories into earlier histories - a voyage across the bite with Wylla the fishwife into Eddard's backstory, maritime invasions of Blackfyres into Westerosi history.

In Dance and Feast, there seems to be more effort taken with the nautical details - although this could be because there are more nautically informed points of view. There are more mentions of hemp rope, resin, cooperage, more thought given to the function of docks and the nature of harbours than previously. The world has opened up and become much larger, but paradoxically, the distances between places have become smaller, the peoples more cosmopolitan,  largely though sea travel.

There are clearly at least two big naval battles preparing for Winds of Winter. One that might start between Victarion and some other navy, but will end between Victarion and Euron, over dragons, in the South seas.  Another would be the Targaryen conquests of Westeros. Aegon and the Golden Company have already started one. Dany with the Dothraki might start another. Harder to tell if these two will stay on the same side, and which side Sallador, Aurane, Redwyne will take. That would be on the Narrow sea. Unless Dany and/or Euron decide to come at the Kingdoms from the Shivering or Sunset seas, taking their chances on an unmapped and unknown route (Euron might have done this already -the Reader suspected he was lying about retrieving his hell-horn from the ruins of Valyria. Maybe he wasn't even on the summer sea).

House Manderley seem to be taking an interested in things happening nearer the shivering seas, around Skagos and Hardhome. If the winds are cold enough, they could be battles of survival on ice more than battles for territory on sea. Still, most real-world "battle on the ice" stories are really maritime survival stories of men who started out in pursuit of territory (eg. Shakleton, Franklin, Amundsen).  Dragons can fly to from and over boats, can burn them to the waterline, or melt a path through ice for them to navigate. They can burn wights too. Also, it seems to me that the relationship between dragons and ships is a bit like the relationship between aircraft and aircraft carriers. They don't seem to go any distance over seas without the ships, but they do seem perfectly able to keep themselves alive with fish and frolic when they travel with ships. 

 

  

 

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7 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Oh, by the time of the Regency Driftmark looks still very strong - they were much stronger still before the Gullet, but Alyn Velaryon is not a minor lord.

Unless some other great tragedy strikes between 136 AC and Robert's Rebellion I'd say the destruction of the Targaryen fleet off Dragonstone in the night of Dany's birth - most ships would have been Velaryon ships, presumably - in combination with Robert flat-out barring them from replacing the lost war ships after he took power - and placing the entire newly built royal fleet under Stannis' command as Lord of Dragonstone - is what caused the Velaryons to decline.

Prior to that they should have still been pretty great lords. Not as great as the Sea Snake, of course, but Alyn Oakenfist seems to have been not that far behind his (grand)father insofar as fame is concerned.

House Velaryon should have reaped great rewards just for the role Lord Alyn played in the Conquest of Dorne.

Lord Alyn's many adventures, especially the Dornish Conquest, would have given the Sea Horses ample rewards, respect and glory. I imagine Daeron I also would have paid the Oakenfist handsomely in gold for his services.

If we also assume that some of the wealth that old' Corlys brought back from his voyages was stored in banks/safe foreign locations before the events of the Dance, it could be that House Velaryon were/are still an extremely rich Household - then again, with no real need for their navy up until TWOT5K, and Driftmark not seeming to have many other resources, one wonders how much their finances might have dwindled.

As you say, Robert's edicts after the war seem to be what caused the decline. The Velaryons not being allowed to replace their fleet after the storm at Dragonstone is something I've not given much thought to. I find the idea of a sea faring house/organisation being banned from rebuilding their fleet to be pretty compelling - do we have many other such examples in the text?

Also, do you think the surviving Sea Horses in 300 AC might hold a grudge against Stannis or the Iron Throne for taking away their main form of income/cultural identity? Monterys is probably too young for such bitterness, but any kin he might have could see matters differently. Perhaps the denizens of Driftmark have a Balon Greyjoy style view of how the IT treated them, post war.

Again, I reckon the likes of Corlys and Alyn would consider it a pretty solemn state of affairs that no one (rightly) counts the modern Velaryons as amongst the most skilled/powerful shipwrights and sailors.

 

 

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@Aline de Gavrillac

From the four you listed, I'd have to go with Braavos.

The famous Arsenal can not only build a ship per day, but also built the ultra advanced Sun Chaser, an ocean dwelling masterpiece, some 250 odd years ago - if the shipwrights of the city could do that so long ago, think how their craftsmanship might have improved in the meantime!

The Summer Islanders and Ibbenese would be my other choices. The Swan Ships, built by the peoples of Walano, Jhala etc. seem like they are great for both exploration and combat. While the Ibbenese vessels are most likely the planet's most well suited for cold conditions/maritime hunting.

Would love to see a fleet of Swan ships go up against a fleet of Iron Born longships. 

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4 minutes ago, Leo of House Cartel said:

Lord Alyn's many adventures, especially the Dornish Conquest, would have given the Sea Horses ample rewards, respect and glory. I imagine Daeron I also would have paid the Oakenfist handsomely in gold for his services.

Yeah, although we'll have to wait and see where his voyages go and how successful and profitable his enterprises actually are. The first voyage seems to have been fun, but not exactly very profitable.

4 minutes ago, Leo of House Cartel said:

If we also assume that some of the wealth that old' Corlys brought back from his voyages was stored in banks/safe foreign locations before the events of the Dance, it could be that House Velaryon were/are still an extremely rich Household - then again, with no real need for their navy up until TWOT5K, and Driftmark not seeming to have many other resources, one wonders how much their finances might have dwindled.

They kept Castle Driftmark and certainly would have stored some stuff there. But High Tide and all the valuables and treasures stored there were lost. That's when House Velaryon likely lost it status as richest house in the Seven Kingdoms, most likely.

But the fleet Alyn controls is still very large, and his cousins have ships of their own.

4 minutes ago, Leo of House Cartel said:

As you say, Robert's edicts after the war seem to be what caused the decline. The Velaryons not being allowed to replace their fleet after the storm at Dragonstone is something I've not given much thought to. I find the idea of a sea faring house/organisation being banned from rebuilding their fleet to be pretty compelling - do we have many other such examples in the text?

Oh, the Velaryons not replacing the ships they lost at Dragonstone is just an assumption on my part. If they had remotely as many ships as Alyn had during the War of the Five Kings Stannis' fleet would have been enormous. They still have ships in ACoK and they are still the strongest house sworn to Dragonstone, but their ships do not make up the majority of the royal fleet under Stannis' control.

Which means either the Velaryons lost the bulk of the war ships at the end of the Rebellion in the storm, or their fleet declined for some other reasons during the centuries due to some other tragedies. If the latter were the case we don't know anything about that at this point. And since Alyn seems to have been rebuilding Velaryon wealth chances are not that great that such a decline took place - after all, Lord Lucerys Velaryon was Master of Ships under Aerys II, implying that the Velaryons kept their 'almost hereditary' office until the end of the Targaryen reign.

That implies the Velaryons remained important.

4 minutes ago, Leo of House Cartel said:

Also, do you think the surviving Sea Horses in 300 AC might hold a grudge against Stannis or the Iron Throne for taking away their main form of income/cultural identity? Monterys is probably too young for such bitterness, but any kin he might have could see matters differently. Perhaps the denizens of Driftmark have a Balon Greyjoy style view of how the IT treated them, post war.

One assumes the current weakness of House Velaryon stems from the fact that Monford has only a boy heir. Davos gives us the impression both the Velaryons and the Celtigars are still very rich and very haughty and arrogant because of that, that implies they did only decline in political and military power, not so much in wealth.

Robert's rise should have been very unpleasant for the lords of the Narrow Sea since they have been Targaryen men since the beginning, and Robert couldn't really risk them assisting Viserys III in an invasion - not to mention that historically the Velaryons and Baratheons were competing for the position of second house in the Realm, meaning that Robert would have likely not been very lenient to them even if they hadn't been traditional Targaryen loyalists.

I expect Driftmark and the Velaryons to feature more prominently in the main series when Aegon and/or Daenerys rise to the Iron Throne. A restored Targaryen monarch is very likely to call or draw traditional Targaryen men to court.

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I doubt Robert would have batted an eye about Stannis taking the Royal Fleet to Dragonstone.  I know this is a minor part of the discussion, but we know that Stannis sailed the ("a") fleet into Sisterton to put an end to smuggling, and of course Stannis commanded the fleet against the Ironborn.  As Master of Ships, Stannis was often performing his duties, in which Robert showed little interest.  If Stannis took off with the fleet, Robert's thoughts likely went no farther than "Stannis is off chastising someone again."

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7 hours ago, Leo of House Cartel said:

Lord Alyn's many adventures, especially the Dornish Conquest, would have given the Sea Horses ample rewards, respect and glory. I imagine Daeron I also would have paid the Oakenfist handsomely in gold for his services.

If we also assume that some of the wealth that old' Corlys brought back from his voyages was stored in banks/safe foreign locations before the events of the Dance, it could be that House Velaryon were/are still an extremely rich Household - then again, with no real need for their navy up until TWOT5K, and Driftmark not seeming to have many other resources, one wonders how much their finances might have dwindled.

As you say, Robert's edicts after the war seem to be what caused the decline. The Velaryons not being allowed to replace their fleet after the storm at Dragonstone is something I've not given much thought to. I find the idea of a sea faring house/organisation being banned from rebuilding their fleet to be pretty compelling - do we have many other such examples in the text?

Also, do you think the surviving Sea Horses in 300 AC might hold a grudge against Stannis or the Iron Throne for taking away their main form of income/cultural identity? Monterys is probably too young for such bitterness, but any kin he might have could see matters differently. Perhaps the denizens of Driftmark have a Balon Greyjoy style view of how the IT treated them, post war.

Again, I reckon the likes of Corlys and Alyn would consider it a pretty solemn state of affairs that no one (rightly) counts the modern Velaryons as amongst the most skilled/powerful shipwrights and sailors.

 

 

Recent thread on the Velaryon decline post Rebellion here:

 

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