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miércoles 22 noviembre 2017



Bertan > Our boats > From sail to engine
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From sail to engine


The defeat at Trafalgar and the loss of the overseas colonies put an end to Spain's maritime might. From then on, a variety of medium-sized ships was built in the Basque Country, including schooners, brigs and quechemarines (two-masted luggers), as well as the omnipresent skiffs (lanchas fleteras). Steam was quickly adopted along the Basque coast for freight ships and later for fishing vessels, putting an end to traditional sailing practices, particularly around the beginning of the twentieth century. Sail-powered fishing and cargo skiffs both struggled in vain to compete with the new motor boats: hulls were extended and the sail area enlarged considerably. However, these bold innovations were to result in much misfortune.

The Ugarte No. 1 was built in England around 1878. During
this period the Ugarte family began to build wooden-hulled steam
ships at Aginaga. The Ugartes were the first steam-driven ships to
be built in the Basque Country. This model shows how much space
was taken up by the new propulsion system.
The Ugarte No. 1 was built in England around 1878. During this period the Ugarte family began to build wooden-hulled steam ships at Aginaga. The Ugartes were the first steam-driven ships to be built in the Basque Country. This model shows how much space was taken up by the new propulsion system. © José Lopez
Skiff (lancha fletera). Shortly after the adoption of watertight
decks by the tuna boats, they were increased in length to 15
metres. The foresail on the freight skiffs was enlarged so much that
it became larger than the mainsail.
Skiff (lancha fletera). Shortly after the adoption of watertight decks by the tuna boats, they were increased in length to 15 metres. The foresail on the freight skiffs was enlarged so much that it became larger than the mainsail. © José Lopez

Sail boats. During this period the Basque maritime commercial
network was reduced to a more local area. There was no longer
any place for the great transatlantic vessels of yore and trading
was carried out in ships of smaller tonnage in a wide variety of
different types. Among the most common rigs was the brig, the
quechemarín (two-masted lugger) and the pailebote (a small schooner).
Sail boats. During this period the Basque maritime commercial network was reduced to a more local area. There was no longer any place for the great transatlantic vessels of yore and trading was carried out in ships of smaller tonnage in a wide variety of different types. Among the most common rigs was the brig, the quechemarín (two-masted lugger) and the pailebote (a small schooner). © José Lopez

Plan of spars on a frigate from the first half of the nineteenth
century.
Plan of spars on a frigate from the first half of the nineteenth century. © José Lopez

Ugarte No. 2. For decades, sail and steam coexisted alongside
each other. Initially, steamboats found it difficult to compete with
sailing vessels; the space needed for the boiler and fuel meant that
the hold was much smaller than on a sailing ship, and at many
ports it was impossible to acquire coal. Gradually, the efficiency of
the ships' engines was enhanced, with a subsequent reduction in
the space needed for the coal and a consequent increase in hold
capacity.
Ugarte No. 2. For decades, sail and steam coexisted alongside each other. Initially, steamboats found it difficult to compete with sailing vessels; the space needed for the boiler and fuel meant that the hold was much smaller than on a sailing ship, and at many ports it was impossible to acquire coal. Gradually, the efficiency of the ships' engines was enhanced, with a subsequent reduction in the space needed for the coal and a consequent increase in hold capacity. © José Lopez
Steam ship Esperanza. 1919. By the second decade of the
twentieth century the Basque fishing fleet was mostly composed of steam vessels, leading to an improvement in conditions on board.
Some fishermen, however, resisted the new technology and stuck to
the traditional sail boats, predicting that sooner or later the new
motor trawlers would exhaust fish stocks.
Steam ship Esperanza. 1919. By the second decade of the twentieth century the Basque fishing fleet was mostly composed of steam vessels, leading to an improvement in conditions on board. Some fishermen, however, resisted the new technology and stuck to the traditional sail boats, predicting that sooner or later the new motor trawlers would exhaust fish stocks. © José Lopez

The first steam boats were British and were converted sail
boats. Soon new ships were built, designed specifically for mechanical
propulsion, although the hulls remained identical to their
sail-driven predecessors. The close trading ties between Britain and
the Basque shipping companies of the time sped up the adoption
of the new technology along this coast.
The first steam boats were British and were converted sail boats. Soon new ships were built, designed specifically for mechanical propulsion, although the hulls remained identical to their sail-driven predecessors. The close trading ties between Britain and the Basque shipping companies of the time sped up the adoption of the new technology along this coast. © José Lopez
The first steam-driven fishing boats along this coast were purchased
abroad and they featured a "ducktail" stern. However, this
type of hull was not well suited to these waters. Sailing before the
wind, especially when crossing the bar, the waves beat dangerously
high on the overly buoyant stern, which was sometimes torn
away altogether. As a result, Basque fishermen later returned to the
traditional designs of this coast.
The first steam-driven fishing boats along this coast were purchased abroad and they featured a "ducktail" stern. However, this type of hull was not well suited to these waters. Sailing before the wind, especially when crossing the bar, the waves beat dangerously high on the overly buoyant stern, which was sometimes torn away altogether. As a result, Basque fishermen later returned to the traditional designs of this coast. © José Lopez

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