Category Archives: Working boats

They have flat-bottomed boats in France too…

I can’t resist adding a few more shots from Douarnenez. I read long ago that flat-bottomed US-style sailing boats caught on in France in a big way in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, so I was pleased but not altogether surprised to see these two, a scow and a sharpie, in the harbour during the maritime festival.

I haven’t seen any in France since that day, so maybe this was a rare sighting.

French scow French sharpie

I have not been able to discover anything about the scow Katie, but the foresail of the sharpie announces that the boat is operated by l’association Seudre et Mer, which exists to preserve the maritime traditions of Mornac and the le Seudre river.

Click here for more on l’association Seudre et Mer:

Loire river boat

One thing that did surprise me was this river boat, which I was told came from the Loire. It’s a big punt with a live-well and a sailing rig of some kind – there aren’t enugh clues here to indentify it with any certainty. The astonishing thing, however, is that rudder – have you ever seen a rudder better adapted to slipping over a sandbank in a flat-bottomed boat with inches to spare?

Here’s an intriguing photo and some notes about Loire river boats:…/photo566045.htm

A little light Googling revealed this small gallery of photos, including both Pen Duick and Pen Duick II:…/index.html

And this TrekEarth gallery of images of the Douarnenez and its harbour, including some more shots of La Cancalaise:…/Bretagne/Douarnenez/

[ad name=”amazon-chappelle-small-american-sailing-craft”] [ad name=”amazon-chappelle-boatbuilding”] [ad name=”amazon-parker-sharpie”]

[ad name=”mailspeed”]


Bisquine La Cancalaise at Douarnenez

Bisquine Bisquine Bisquine

Send interested friends this link:

Here’s another big boat to gawp at – and this time it’s La Cancalaise, perhaps the largest lugger I’ve seen and certainly the only one with three tiers of sails. Here are some photos of mine taken with a film camera at the Douarnenez Maritime Festival some time ago. This is her racing rig by the way; I’ve read the usual working rig for bisquine’s is smaller, and with only two tiers of sails.

Note the little steam launch in the foreground, by the way.

Click here for more on La Cancalaise:

The reborn Kathleen & May

Kathleen & May Kathleen & May Kathleen & May

Send this link to interested friends:

The Kathleen & May is a boat to make one gasp. Built on the Dee Estuary in 1900, by the time she retired in 1960 she was the last of the merchant schooners to earn her living carrying cargo. I don’t know what happened to her over the next few couple of decades, but in the mid 1990s she was rediscovered in a sorry state without spars or rigging in Gloucester Docks.

The man who found her was Steve Clarke, the enterprising President of Bideford Chamber of Commerce. On seeing the Kathleen & May, he felt that she should be restored and brought back to Bideford as an attraction; the town had been a frequent port of call during the old boat’s long career. His initial intention was to restore her cosmetically, but later decided to restore her to sailing condition.

She was relaunched in fine style in 2002, and can now be seen in Bideford when she isn’t voyaging somewhere – I was lucky enough to pay a visit a little while ago when she put into Watchet harbour, and she made a big impression. My only regret is that the weather was pretty grim and I didn’t come away with a set of nice big photos to share – but there are some nice ones on the website.

Click here to visit the Kathleen & May website:

While we’re thinking about coasting cargo boats, check out the Bessie Ellen, Britain’s last coasting ketch still sailing:

Got your breath back yet? I haven’t…