Category Archives: Working boats

Volta Mallorca – campaigner Giacomo de Stefano to circumnavigate Mallorca by llaut

Volta Mallorca is a campaigning circumnavigation of Mallorca in a beautiful engineless traditional wooden llaut, Nova Catalina, by tireless campaigner Giacomo die Stefano and friends.

They aim to raise awareness about water-related issues, and to learn about and share the potential for sustainable projects.

Giacomo and his pals set off on their sail- and oar-powered expedition on the 27th; in the meantime, here are some photos from a trial sail last year.

Ruel Parker writes about the Chesapeake Bay brogans

Brogan lines

I hadn’t heard about the log-built Chesapeake Bay brogan before, but I’m very struck by their beautiful lines and proportions. Of course I realise that the low sheerline isn’t there to make the boat attractive but to enable the oyster fishermen to reach the water to do their work, but still…

Read all about them in traditional boat author, historian, designer and boatbuilder Reuel Parker’s article on the Woodenboat magazine website. Here’s a sample:

‘I learned about brogans from MV Brewerton’s excellent book Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes and Bugeyes. While bugeyes were large—up to 80? on deck — the brogans were small — around 30? to 35? on deck. I wanted to design a modern version of the brogan—adapted for cold-molded construction for shoal-draft cruising — but didn’t get around to doing it until December of 2011.

Brogans were double-ended, beamy, of moderate displacement, and shoal-bodied with centerboards. They carried free-standing masts, very raked, with the mizzen raked markedly more than the main.

‘The only lines drawing I have ever found for a brogan came from Brewerton’s book (shown below). They show a very lovely, nearly symmetrical, easily-driven double-ended hull of excellent proportions.’

The story of Ralph Munroe and the sharpie Egret

Chappelle Egret drawing

A nice telling of the story of legendary boat designer ‘Commodore’ Ralph Munroe, his boat building and designing, his role in introducing the sharpie to Florida and the legendary Egret by Paul Austin appeared a few days ago on the excellent Duckworksmagazine website.

It’s a story with lots of interesting elements. Munroe’s life included great adventures and terrible tragedies, and then there’s his famous Egret – a very successful flat-bottomed boat that Munroe designed after having success with a series of round-bottomed sharpie-derived boats he called ‘Presto sharpies‘, which to my eyes appear to have been about 100 years ahead of their time.

Here’s a short quotation:

‘In 1886 Munroe designed his famous Egret, a 28 foot double-ended sharpie… Egret was flat-bottomed, after Munroe had made his money with round-bilged presto sharpies.

‘With few roads in and around Miami, Munroe and Egret was busy. She had a reputation for being fast and seaworthy, running breakers, sliding among the shallow inlets, gliding up to low wood docks.’

The Egret remains a puzzle, however – there are no lines drawings, and photos of what is supposed to have been a half-model of her hull is said not to resemble photographs of the boat recognised as the Egret.

I think of the Egret legend as having something of the power of the story of Delta blues musician Robert Johnson – both are said to have been revolutionary, and both have been copied and revived by modern practitioners (the illustration above is Howard Chappelle’s version). We have photos of Egret and recordings of Johnson (and a single known photo) – but both are shrouded in tantalising mystery.

See Paul Austin’s account appeared a few days ago on the excellent here.

Caller Herrin’, the classic late 1940s herring fisheries documentary

My thanks to Chris Brady for letting me know about this tremendous late 1940s herring fisheries documentary made by the government’s Central Office of Information available on YouTube. Don’t let that Orwellian-sounding organisation title put you off though – there’s some great footage here.

British Pathé film: Grimsby’s Trade Stimulant (1934)

My thanks to Liam Robinson for passing on the link to this video about the openin of a new fish dock to boost Grimsby’s fishing industry.

Digging about on YouTube also reveals the following British Pathé clips.

EW Cooke painting and drawing in North Kent

Holly Shore Boats on Shore BM E W Cooke 1832

Following the recent post about EW Cooke, Faversham historian Arthur Percival has alerted me to the existence of this Cooke drawing of the scene at Holly Shore on Oare Creek – this is the spot we now know as Hollowshore.

This low-resolution image is all I’ve been able to get hold of up to now - the original is held by the British Museum but I have not been able to find a record of it on the museum website.

The entrance to Oare Creek and the Shipwright’s Arms will be familiar to anyone who has visited. The barge itself is of the old swim-headed type from long before the Henry Dodd established sailing barge races in the 1860s.

A long-standing fan of EW Cooke’s work, Mr Percival says the artist visited the area on the 9th July 1832.

Another find from searching the Internet is the image below of a sailing barge loaded with hay with a retired man of war in the background. I think this is very likely to depict a scene on the Medway, and is therefore of particular interest to those of us who sail in the area.

The man of war with its masts cut down is clearly not a prison hulk, because they were closed down a few years before EW’s visit.

The image of the hay barge is a thumbnail from the Magnolia Box prints and pictures website, which offers the image in various sizes – the title given is ‘Hay Barge and Men of War on the Medway, 1833′.

EW Cooke prison hull and sailing barge

Cooke clearly had a particular interest in hay barges – there’s another similar scene of a hay barge in still weather being handled under sweeps off Greenwich here.