Ship builders of Essex

This is a great little film about the building of the fishing schooner St Rosalie –¬†and very much of its time and people!

My thanks to intheboatshed.net reader Josef Sablatnic for pointing it out.

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.

Dory fishermen’s lives in the 1920s on film

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Albert Khan

Still of fishermen long-lining from dories in the 1920s, from the Albert Khan archive

Some fabulous documentary film of French fishermen catching cod from on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland is online now via the BBC iPlayer – if you’re lucky enough to have access to it. Click here!

Originally from Alsace, Albert Khan was a rich pacifist, philanthopist and internationalist who sought to promote world peace by using photography as a means of persuading the people in the West of the enormous diversity of human life and culture – so he sent French photographers on trips throughout the World to shoot black and white as well as early colour photos and film.

To say that the material his photographers brought back is hugely impressive would be an understatement. It clearly demonstrates the richness and high degree of civilisation of the lives lived by many in even the remotest areas of the world and should be seen by anyone who doesn’t know enough about people in other parts of the world, just as Khan intended.

But enough of the sermon – this particular programme includes some fabulous footage of the lives and work of dory fishermen fishing from French boats in the era before the trawlers emptied the Grand Banks of cod, as well as excerpts from the telling diary of the photographer who took it.There’s also some nice clips of sailing Breton tuna fishermen in port.

If you can see material on the iPlayer, do catch it before it’s no longer available!

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