4. Jean-Pierre Bouvet design notes

The Brilliant Drawings of Jean-Pierre Bouvet

        Like Verne himself and everyone who has made efforts to visualize what the ‘true’ Nautilus looked like including me, M. Bouvet took great license with his concept.  Yet I also have great appreciation for the amazing detail he imparted to his plan.  The one thing I tried to remember, which Jean-Pierre seemed to have been lax about, was… the year this all took place.  I did a lot of research on 1869 and the years around that.  It was an extremely simplistic time in technology.   I feel as though J-P stretched that a lot.

JP 1

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        Nemo was Spartan in his accommodations.  And I believe this was not just in his own quarters.  I doubt he would have included the luxury of toilets and wash rooms in his and Aronnax’s cabins, especially considering Aronnax’s cabin was normally vacant.  Feels too extravagant, too much like a cruise ship, and not the war machine Nemo meant it to be.

        Remarkably, I didn’t see the outstanding Bouvet design, and all the super details in it, until I was nearly finished with mine.  So many details were included that I almost lost my motivation to continue with my own drawings.  But I’m doing the design with graphics software, not by hand as an artist.  This two dimensional project is just a preliminary effort for the 3-D project in the near future.  As nice as Jean-Pierre’s drawings are, I found that such extensive details are much more difficult when using a computer.

        It is interesting though, how many things we did the same, such as the carpets in the main rooms and using the lighthouse principal for the Searchlight and other aspects.


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        There are a great many things I like about the Jean-Pierre Bouvet design.  A few things I found confusing though.  It seems like there are too many hap-hazard decks and levels to be consistent with the simple plans of the day.  From my research, generally the decks on submarines of 1800’s and even early 1900’s were few and simplistic.  The Bouvet decks seems to be adjusted for whatever function is located in that area.  I doubt Verne’s Nautilus,  the Delavaque vessels,  Zédé and Romazotti of the French “Gymnote“, or even the great Robert Fulton would have been so impractical.  Even as late as 1941, British submarines kept the number of decks and there arrangement as minimal and simple as possible.

        Several other things seemed to bother me.   M. Bouvet’s boat seems very much too large.  I fitted my plans and elevations into the dimensions Verne supplied;  229 feet (70 meters) in Length  x  26 feet (8 meters) in Diameter ( beam )  In addition, that is at the boats midpoint.  Being essentially round in  shape, the upper and lower decks would be significantly more narrow.  All usable space would be at a premium.

        Looking at Jean-Pierre’s layout makes the boat seem to appear much, much bigger than defined.


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        Some things I found missing, at least from the one elevation drawing available; no aft hatches for loading all those humongous fish and trolling net catches.  Also, there was no method provided to raise the directional fins and hide them in the hull for ramming.


        I seriously believe that too many corridors and hallways is a terrible waste of space in a submarine.  And Nemo was very pragmatic.

Food 2

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        Also there was no ramp or stairs to and from the Diving Chamber and the sea.  That room is still a bit too far above the sea floor to be that convenient.  If the food catches were brought in through the diving room, the trip up to the Galley would have been… interesting to say the least.

        And like so many others, myself included until just recently, M. Bouvet stayed with the oval Salon windows, even when Verne clearly states they are rectangular.  Not surprising considering I missed it myself for nearly 60 years!

Salon 2

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        Yet some things are most excellent.    The way he handled the dinghy, the stacking of he crew ( need that in my Crew Quarters! ),  and he included pumps for the water circulation and for the air.  All in all, M. Bouvet did an amazingly creative job on his design.  I’m surprised each time I review his plans, at the extent of detail he imparted and the ingenious ways he managed to get it all in!

        Below in Jean-Pierre’s most excellent web site.      A bit slow to load, but well worth the wait.  (Very large, intricate and complex drawings)


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