Recognized HTML document

Rafts and Boats.


the place of rails : this was all; it held one or two men, and nothing but reeds or rushes were used in its construction.

Rafts of distended Hides.-" A single ox-hide may be made into a float capable of sustaining about 300 lbs. ; the skin is to be cut to the largest possible circle, then gathered together round a short tube, to the inner end of which a valve, like that of a common pair of bellows, has been applied : it is inflated with bellows, and, as the air escapes by degrees, it may be refilled every ten or twelve hours." ('Handbook for Field Service.')

We read of the skins of animals, stuffed with hay to keep them distended, having been used by Alexander the Great, and by others.

Goatskin rafts are extensively used on the Tigris and elsewhere. These are inflated through one of the legs : they are generally lashed to a framework of wood, branches, and reeds, in such a way that the leg is accessible to a person sitting on the raft : when the air has in part escaped, he creeps round to the skins, one after the other, untying and re-inflating them in succession.

African Gourd Raft.-Over a large part of Bornu, especially on its Komadugu-the so-called River Yeou of Central Africa-no boat is used, except the following ingenious contrivance. It is called a " mikara," or boat par eminence.

Two large open gourds are nicely balanced, and fixed, bottom downwards, on a bar or yoke of light wood, 4 feet long, 42 inches wide, and 4 or 1 inch thick. The fisherman, or traveller, packs

his gear into the gourds; launches the mdkara into the river, and seats himself astride the bar. He then paddles off, with help of his hands (fig.

1). When he leaves --" -

the river, he carries

the makara on his back (fig. 2). The late Dr. Barth wrote

Fig. 2.   Fig. l.