- Theory and practice
In the same way that the dimensions of the hull were the result of the strict application of rules of proportion between the tread of the keel, the maximum beam and the depth at the midship frame, the dimensions of the apparel and gear were the result of intelligent calculation of proportions. Thus, in the various treatises, the length of a block, the circumference of a mast or the thickness of a piece of rope are often expressed in relation to the ship's primary dimensions. As a result, archaeologists need to be aware of the existence of these rules of proportion, but they must not forget to directly observe the historical reality of the wreck. Theory and practice do not always converge, and there are differences between shipyards. Construction choices are determined by both economic and environmental factors, such as the technical environment, the lack (or abundance) of certain articles, and so on.
Thus, the Natière 1 shipwreck – now identified as the royal frigate Dauphine, built in Le Havre in 1703 – displays original ways of doing things and rather unorthodox technical experimentation. Archaeological data have revealed technical solutions that were likely improvised at the shipyard by Louis XIV's primary shipwrights. The frigate Aimable Grenot, which was built 45 years later with private funds, presents a much more classic construction, both in its shape and its proportions.