More on the last Portuguese fishing schooners

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Brites, built in 1936 crossing the Atlantic in the 1960s – her wooden dories clearly visible on deck

(Above, left )Adelia Maria, (above, right) Coimbra, both of which were built in 1948

Novos Mares

Following his tip-off about the stunning Lonely Men of the Dories Youtube videos Jay Cresswell has sent through some old photos of the last of the sailing Grand Bankers of Portugal from his personal collection.

The Lonely Men of the Dories footage shows the crews of the Portuguese Grand Banker schooners using the small wooden boats called dories for long-lining cod.

Luisa Ribau was the last sailing Grand Banker to be built, and was launched in 1953 and destroyed on the Grand Banks by fire in 1973.

A number of large Grands Banks schooners were built by the Portuguese after World War II, notably the four-masters Adelia Maria and Coimbra in 1948.

Collectively known as the White Fleet, the last departure of the schooners from St John’s in Newfoundland was the wood-built lugre named Novos Mares in July 1974. So ended the last significant chapter of trans-Atlantic commercial sail, an aspect that Jay remarks seems to be barely known about here in the UK, and which seems to have been missed by famous maritime historian Basil Greenhill when he was writing wrote his 1980 book Schooners, which was published by Batsford – although he did include the Canadian Bankers at the very end of the dory-schooner fishery on the Banks, and enjoyed rowing a dory on near his home towards the end of his life.

Perhaps he hadn’t heard about the Portuguese – the world was a bigger place in those days, and I suppose it’s a reminder that historians, like journalists and everyone else, can miss important points from time to time. What I find striking is the discovery that these large sailing fishing craft were working so late into the 20th century. When I grew up I remember everyone said that the days of large sailing craft were long over outside of sail training ships – but everyone was clearly wrong.

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More excellent video of Grand Banks schooners dory boats and fishermen

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The Lonely Men of the Dories

Jay Cresswell has been in touch to tell us about some more video of the Grand Bankers of Portugal – see Comments in the left-hand column above left.

He’s also been in touch to say that within a few years, there will be as many as three restored four-masted schooners built in the 1930s for use in the Grand Banks fishing grounds.

But to return to the video, the material he has found is marvellous footage of the schooners, their wooden boats and the fishermen themselves – six sections of film titled The Lonely Men of the Dories – the link above goes to section 1, but the rest are linked below. By the way, don’t let the title you see in the Youtube pages worry you – the voiceovers are in English.

The Lonely Men of the Dories part 1

The Lonely Men of the Dories part 2

The Lonely Men of the Dories part 3

The Lonely Men of the Dories part 4

The Lonely Men of the Dories part 5

The Lonely Men of the Dories part 6

Nathan Richie and Jeroes Porters launch a Tirrik at the Boatbuilding Academy

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Nathan Richie and Jeroen Porters built this Iain Oughtred-designed Tirrik at the Boatbuilding Academy and launched it at the big student launch on the 5th December.

Although set up as a rowing boat in these photos, the 16ft 10in Tirrik is Iain O’s take on a Ness boat. Double-ended, glued clinker in mahogany ply, the it has a beam of 5ft 4in, a centreboard and, since leaving the Academy, has been rigged as a sailing boat.

Nathan is going to use it to sail with his family. I gather the Tirrik will be featured in the next edition of Water Craft magazine, btw.

As the final photo shows, the designer called in on the Academy during the build – it was meant to be a brief visit, but he but ended up staying overnight and giving the students an impromptu lecture on boat design with illustrations.

Nathan was previously an IT consultant who owned a chain of clothing shops, but he always wanted to get into the marine industry and has previously earned RYA Yachtmaster and TDI diving certificates. It seems to run in the family, for while Nathan was at the Academy, his son Craig joined the 8-week woodworking skills course. They’re hoping to build a 40ft-ish boat when time and money allows.

Jeroenhas just applied for a job at the North Norwegian Boat Museum. He has also bought the plans for a Francois Vivier le Seil 18, which he plans to start building if – and when – he moves to Norway. His weblog of the course is online – it’s in Dutch but, even if you can’t read, it the photos are worth looking at.