Stunning videos of Portuguese Barco Rabelo being sailed and built

Rabelos are a traditional Portuguese cargo boat developed for transporting people and goods such as port wine along the Douro River to Porto.

The Wikipedia tells me that port wine companies continue to maintain a fleet of rabelos and race them each year on St John’s Day, June 24. It must be quite a sight.

My thanks to Dave Rowlands for spotting this one!

Commodore Munroe’s Egrets sailing on a blue sea…

This is especially for everyone who, like me, is dreaming of the summer.

If you’re curious about these elegant and unusual craft (which you may very well be, particularly if you’re a flat-bottom averse British sailor) take a peek at these links: Munroe and Egret at Duckworksmagazine, Ralph Munroe at the Wikipedia, Planing Around. Munroe was hugely influential – it seems to me his ‘Presto sharpie’ lifting keel hull forms would have seemed reasonably modern for decades after his death in 1933.

Fascinating though the Egrets are, I do wonder how you reef them before the squall arrives, which of course is essential in the waters around the UK – and yet boats like this used to perform all-weather services such as delivering and collection the mail, and life saving. As someone who single-hands quite often, I would not be keen on tottering about trying to manage those foresails.

Madness at Sea

Madness at Sea

Nic Compton’s latest book looks interesting – to me at least. Apparently publishers haven’t shown any interest, but psychosis, paranoia and the rest have played a part in so many true and fictional tales of the sea. And of course there’s something especially vulnerable about a short-handed or solo sailor that makes the possibility of insanity especially scary… Buy your cheapie Kindle edition copy here.

Here’s what Nic’s back-cover blurb has to say:

‘When Donald Crowhurst’s boat was found drifting in mid-Atlantic with no-one on board, its solo skipper having apparently taken his life, it confirmed what many people suspected about sailing on the high seas: it can drive you crazy. Indeed, the link between ships and psychological trauma is embedded in our culture, from the privations suffered by Odysseus during his ten-year voyage home from Troy, to the emotional torture described in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, and the obsessive behaviour of Captain Ahab in Moby Dick – all show how the sea can push sailors over the brink.
The first and only book written on the subject, Madness at Sea examines the causes of such behaviour: the physical factors of life at sea, as well as the psychological dynamics aboard ship. It looks at the cultural legacy of madness at sea, and brings the story right up to date with contemporary studies of crews taking part in today’s major races.’