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martes 26 septiembre 2017



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Smaller vessels. Characteristics


There is a greater range of types among smaller inshore vessels than among large, off-shore ones. Each coast has its own particular features and characteristics, conditioning local shipbuilding architecture and fostering greater diversity. The Basque coast is characterised by its rough seas and irregular winds, with difficult sailing conditions; moreover, until recent work on estuaries, access to most ports required getting past dangerous sand bars. These are the principal factors that have conditioned the development of Basque vessels, giving them unique features that mark them out from those of other seafaring cultures.

Large crews. Among the most important factors leading to the
use of oar-power in Basque boats was the unreliability of the winds
on this coast. Large crews were needed to get to the fishing
grounds when winds were unfavourable.
Large crews. Among the most important factors leading to the use of oar-power in Basque boats was the unreliability of the winds on this coast. Large crews were needed to get to the fishing grounds when winds were unfavourable. © José Lopez
Gastronomic societies. Throughout the day, fishing crews
would wait together at the port. Each vessel had a store, where they
stowed their gear, cooked and rested, and there was always an
open cask of cider. It was this environment that was to evolve into
today’s gastronomic societies
Gastronomic societies. Throughout the day, fishing crews would wait together at the port. Each vessel had a store, where they stowed their gear, cooked and rested, and there was always an open cask of cider. It was this environment that was to evolve into today’s gastronomic societies. © José Lopez

Economy of effort and optimisation of performance. This has
influenced the architecture of the smaller Basque vessels, leading to
long, narrow, light and shallow-drafted boats.
Economy of effort and optimisation of performance. This has influenced the architecture of the smaller Basque vessels, leading to long, narrow, light and shallow-drafted boats. © José Lopez

Line drawing of a skiff. Miguel Antonio Mutiozabal.
Line drawing of a skiff. Miguel Antonio Mutiozabal. © José Lopez

As well as being oared, Basque vessels successfully used the
power of the wind whenever it was available. Traditionally, the
boats had a foremast and mainmast with lugsails.
As well as being oared, Basque vessels successfully used the power of the wind whenever it was available. Traditionally, the boats had a foremast and mainmast with lugsails. © José Lopez
Basque vessels typically have a shallow draft to help get past
sand bars. This dangerous manoeuvre required sound vessels and
experienced crews.
Basque vessels typically have a shallow draft to help get past sand bars. This dangerous manoeuvre required sound vessels and experienced crews. © José Lopez

Sailing these vessels, which are primarily designed to be
rowed, requires skilled crews. Their fine proportions and shallow
draft makes them fast but unstable. The risk of capsizing is offset by
the skill of the crew.
Sailing these vessels, which are primarily designed to be rowed, requires skilled crews. Their fine proportions and shallow draft makes them fast but unstable. The risk of capsizing is offset by the skill of the crew. © José Lopez

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