France and the


FROM the flat sand-bound coasts of the Low Countries, where the bluff-bowed Dutch craft sail, we may now turn westwards along the French shores. Leaving the West Scheldt and the countries of the leeboard, the spritsail, and the long vane aloft, the carvel-built hulls and square-cut lugsails of Northern France are reached. They will be found to join on by degrees with the higher-peaked, shorter luff lugsail, which again will lead on eventually to their parent, the long-yarded lateen of the Mediterranean.

Off Blankenburg, in Flanders, the local fisherman still wears his leeboards, but here the standing lugsail is first seen set in the French style; the mainsail tall and square-headed, and the foresail set on a light mast right in the eyes of the boat. These local men set their foresail luff taut with a spar bowline, like that used in setting their lugs by the Malays, and formerly by the old Scotch Skaffies. 


But off Niewport, a little further west, the familiar French three-masted lugsail rig may be seen. Main and fore lugsails set on masts stepped amidships, and right forward, now become the ordinary working sails; a mizen, a running bowsprit and jib, generally of very equilateral cut, being commonly added, with a main topsail on the mainmast pole in moderate weather.

This rig, descended probably from the old three-masted felucca of the Mediterranean was, as already mentioned, a favourite one with the French armed craft of the Napoleonic wars, and was adopted and used until recent years on Certain portions of our east and south coasts, at Yarmouth and Hastings, but it seems never to have taken strong hold of British seamen.


The rig has the advantage of being easily reduced to snug proportions, while it offers a fine spread of canvas in light winds, an especially useful feature in trawling.

For the drift-net fishery, a number of boats hailing from Calais, and the smaller ports along the coast westwards round Grisnez, utilise the English form of two masted lug rig, with main and mizen lugsails and jib, similar to the modern drift-boats just across the Channel at Brighton or Hastings.


The French boats are, however, as a rule easily distinguishable from the English by reason of the square cut of the head of their lugsails and the equilateral form of the jib.


The English and Scotch fishermen, during the last half of the nineteenth century, found that the sharper the peak the better the set of the lugsail on a wind, and there is no comparison between either the cut or the set of the average lugsail, north and south of the Channel.

In the same way, the English jib is longer in the luff and shorter in the foot, and is at all events to the accustomed eye a prettier-looking sail than the equal-sided triangle presented by the old-fashioned jib of the French, both on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean seaboards. This shape appears to be largely a result of the low foremast-head and the length of bowsprit used with the lateen and the French-cut lugsails.

The Treport trawler, the Normandy chasse-maree, and the fishing-fleets as far round as La Rochelle, show the French peculiarities very clearly. The foresail often has a bonnet on it for lightness in bad weather.


 The unlacing of the bonnet reduces the sail and avoids the weight and danger caused by heavy rolls of reefs soaking in a heavy head sea, which in this rig would often be a serious matter owing to the forward position of the foremast. The foremast occasionally, in the larger craft, has a long pole for a topsail in fine weather, especially for trawling purposes; and two or more jibs and standing bowsprit are carried in the bigger chasse marees. The St. Malo boats are even seen in calm weather with light upper topsails set over the usual lug topsail.

Some of the beautiful two-masted luggers which may be seen sailing out of Havre and other ports, have adopted a higher peak and proportionately shorter luff with great advantage; and with their neat sharp sterns, boomed mainsails, and tall spars, they are not only fast and safe, but also a very handsome type of boat of which any seaboard might be proud.


This three-masted lug rig, with local variations (as for instance the omission of the mizen, the addition of a boom to the mainsail, or otherwise), may be said to be the national rig of France, and is retained in all forms and sizes of craft from men-of-war boats to traders of several hundred tons.

At Douarnenez and neighbouring ports fronting 'the Bay' a fine class of drift-lugger is used, having many of the characteristics of the Scotch Zulu, such as straight stem and sharp raking stern-post.


The rig consists of a dipping lug foresail, set on a very raking mast right forward, with a main or mizenmast, with great rake aft, stepped nearly amidships, on which a very sharp-peaked sail is set.

The gaff sail has made progress in certain parts, and not a few ketch-rigged trawlers often purchased in England are now owned across the Channel; but the national standing lug, main and fore-sail, appear to be likely to hold their own for many years to come.


In the men who handle these vessels France has again that reserve store of industrious, uncorrupted, and fearless men which, in her case especially, owing to the diseased nature of much of her civilisation as represented in her fickle capital, constitutes a treasure of immeasurable value to the nation.

•  •  •

If Paris, as has been said, is a standing peril to France, it is her country-folk, and above all her seaboard-men who, by their virtues, have her safety and her greatness in their keeping.


 Long may France be able to turn to the intrepid and great-hearted men of Brittany and Normandy in the day of struggle and adversity. It is such men that make the true inward stuff of any nation, and to such that France owes that marvellous recuperative power which is the admiration of all, and the astonishment of those who do not know their France.


The Channel Islands fishing and pilot boats formerly had their three masts all rigged with the standing lugsail, French fashion. They have now, however, pretty generally adopted a boomless gaff sail with considerable peak and good cut, set on the same mast-plan, in place of the lugsail proper.

Some of these boats are very fine powerful craft, and much they need to be good sea-boats in the wild seas and strong tides about the islands. In light weather the big sail-spread obtained by the three-masted rig is no less necessary to give them way across, or against, the strong currents which make sailing anything but unalloyed pleasure in these dangerous rock-strewn waters. *1*

*1* Approximate dimensions : 36 ft. by 12 ft. by 8 ft.

The Mediterranean

Probably no sea in the world leaves such an indelible mark upon the mind of the navigator as does the Mediterranean. The long Pacific roll, the winter grey of the Atlantic, the hot rain of the Indian Ocean, or the fury of the China Sea, are written on the worn paint of the hulls that battle them, and on the hearts of the men who brave them. But the Mediterranean in its deep summer blue, or in the low lights of winter, in oily sunlit calm or the haze of the chill mistral, has a way of its own, a fascination, a fickleness, and a beauty which are irresistibly attractive. The sense of colour, the charm of contrast are nowhere so potent. The constant presence of bold outlines, of peaceful natural harbours, of all that is bright and striking in tint and form, and the need for constant vigilance which the neighbourhood of bold land-falls in a treacherous sea demands, combine alike to exercise to the full the powers of observation, and to impress the mind of the sailor. Other seas of the world mark deep the heart of man, but the Mediterranean appeals to all his senses, and writes most upon his memory. 

Behind its physical aspect lies always the wonder of its historic past. The dim vista of man's struggle from empire to empire unfolds itself along these much-navigated shores. Pictures of one knows not what quaint sea-craft, in which the old mariners piloted from point to point, arise in the mind's-eye. Again, the many-banked galleys of Tyre or of Athens, the high sided corn-ships of Rome and Carthage, or the gaily coloured merchantmen of Genoa and Venice, seem to sail out of the mirage in the hull of some humble tunny boat with the rising sun astern of it.


And surely of all its wonders the most wonderful, and a striking tribute to the little distant Isle of Britain and its people, is the fact to be writ in future histories, that for over a century this sea of memories, which has seen peoples and empires rise, rule, and wane, should have been an 'English lake,' won, patrolled, and kept by the English fleets. 

It is noteworthy that positively nothing of the ancient Egyptian, or even of the classical Roman, seamanship or methods of rig or construction appear to survive in the Mediterranean, or even in Egypt itself.


More especially since the oar-propelled galley has become extinct, it is left to the Far Eastern seaman alone to revive memories of the seamanship of the ancients by a conservative retention of a few very ancient devices known to the older civilisations. These, doubtless before they were swept away, the ancient Mediterranean seamen communicated to, if they did not actually derive many of them from, the peoples whom they met across the Indian Ocean.

We know that the Egyptians equipped fleets for the East in the reign of Rameses III, or about 1200 B.C., and that the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa at the beginning of the sixth century before Christ, under orders from the Pharaoh Nekan. These voyages probably account for the similarity of many devices found in our records of ancient Egypt to those which are still in vogue with the conservative Eastern seamen.

Our records of the development of seamanship and shipbuilding in the Middle Ages are meagre, but the oar, which was so greatly relied upon by the Greeks and Romans, remained in the Mediterranean the principal form of propulsion. In that sea of frequent calms and squally winds such a mechanical form of propulsion was of the utmost value where speed was required, and except in the larger merchantmen, the sail was only an auxiliary even to recent periods when the mast and sail had long been fully developed by the nations of North and Western Europe.


At what period exactly the squaresail of the Egyptian and classical seamen began to give way to the lateen, now almost universal for small craft in the Mediterranean, is not clear, but it seems to have directly followed the Mohammedan incursions.

That the lateen was generally adopted in square-rigged ships during the fifteenth century, for the mizen sail or driver, on account probably of its superior set for holding the wind in staying, we find from several drawings of that period, and it became definitely the rig of the Venetian galleys of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in place of the classical squaresail which had been retained until that period, and of which we have records in the galleys as late as the fourteenth century, disposed as in the time of Pliny, on fore, main, and mizen masts.


The squaresail was still in use in the Venetian galley of the fourteenth century, but the galleass class which fought at Lepanto in 1571 had three masts, all of which were rigged with lateen-sails. From some old drawings of men-of-war of the sixteenth century, *1* it would appear likely that the lateen driver or spanker in North Europe was developed as a result of the tip forward given to the lower squaresail yards in cases where the line of the deck from the high poop to the waist was pitched very steep.

*1* e.g. one of a British man-of-war 1588, given in Holmes's  Ancient and Modern Ships, from the tapestries of the old House of Lords.


The sail became practically a lugsail in this position and when the fashionable angle of pitch of the deck became much flatter, the advantage of the better set of the sail in this position was retained by cutting off the lower fore triangle. The Henry Grace a Dieu *1* had lateen topsails on her two aftermasts, and also a lateen topgallant sail.

*1* Launched in 1514.

Whatever the immediate cause of the use of the lateen in the ships of Northern Europe in the fifteenth century, which later on developed into our present fore-and-aft gaff and boom sail, it seems probable that the Mohammedans already possessed it, probably in the shape of the present dhow-sail, at a much earlier date.


Wherever the sailors of Arabia penetrated either east or west, in the Indian Ocean or the Mediterranean, the lateen followed them and remained. Wherever, on the other hand, the Mussulman wave did not break, or the Arab seaman failed to secure a footing, as was the case in several parts of the Indian Ocean, there apparently remained unaltered many of the oldest devices known to shipmen, and consequently, in looking for survivals of Egyptian or classical practices, we have to turn eastward to inland waters of India, to Burma, to Siam, or even China.

Down to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the old galley under various forms remained the most characteristic of Mediterranean craft. The term is the old <-> or <-> which was applied to the single-decked rowing-vessels which succeeded the earlier many-banked ships of the Greeks and Romans, and which were introduced as a result of the success of the famous Liburnian galleys which won the battle of Actium.

Even to the early nineteenth century these vessels were common, and the name of galley *1* was still applied to single-decked vessels used for pulling or sailing. *2*  They were used with the felucca rig, and were a favourite class wherever men enough could be obtained to man the oars.

As would be expected in a sea of such sea-memories, the Mediterranean offers at the present time an unending variety in the craft which sail its waters. In interest, in beauty, and in serviceableness they are second to none in the world, and if ever exhaustively dealt with they would furnish material for a lifetime's work for a Cooke, a Dixon, or a Wyllie.

*1* This is almost the only classical boat-name which
survives, with the exception of <->, a form of Phoenician
trader from which possibly our Norse term yawl is derived.

*2* Admiral Smyth's Sailor's Word-Book.

The Western Basin

Every visitor to the Riviera knows the high-stemmed shore boat with the round sharp stern and the long-yarded lugsail or lateen which, with minor variations, is used from Alicante to Alexandria; and many will have noticed the sleek sides of these boats, which are carvel-built, as sailors say, in contradistinction to the strong, light clinker-build of the north.

Along the Spanish and Riviera coasts these boats have particularly well-built sterns, with great breadth well aft at the gunwale, giving them great buoyancy and carrying-power.


The profile of the hull is generally peculiarly like that of the blade of certain figure-skates, the stern stem posts having a tumble-home at the gunwale and curving gently into the keel which is itself considerably rockered. The shape is eminently suited to boats which are continually beached in a heavy surf.

The sail par excellence of the Mediterranean is the lateen. As noted above, this form of lugsail (for such it is generically) is of Moorish origin, or to be more accurate, it is the adopted sail of the Mohammedan, for as to its true origin there is no evidence at present.


Its wide spread from the Aegean to the Atlantic is evidence of the influence which Mohammedanism has exercised upon modern navigation in these waters.

The usual rig of the coasting trader, familiar in all the charming natural harbours along the Spanish, French, and Western Italian coasts, is the one-mast lateen with bowsprit and jib. A light topmast is often carried, upon which is set a jib-headed topsail, sheeting to the lateen-yard about a quarter of its length in from the peak. The bowsprit is also often a long high-pointing spar, upon which one or more outer jibs may be set beyond the usual big equilateral staysail or jib now in general use with the lateen.

The handling of the big lateen mainsail is a science by itself, and may be recommended as an experience likely to bring life to any jaded soul seeking for sensation.


The yard, which is in two or more parts according to size, spliced or fished together, is hoisted by a halyard which passes in two parts through a pair of masthead sheaves. A four-fold block and a stout rectangular sheave built into the deck, ,just abaft the mast and standing some feet above the deck, form the tackle for hoisting and lowering the sail. A running parrel holds the yard into the mast. There is generally a peak halyard to assist in taking a portion of the weight off the yard, and in peaking it to the required angle; but the set of sail is really controlled by the heavy tack-purchase at the heel of the yard and by the mainsheet. In running free a wonderful lifting-power is given to the lateen by taking the sheet forward and letting the tack-purchase run out; the yard then lies across the ship, the triangle being upon its apex, the peak dropping and the tack rising until the strain on the sheet is about equalised. Where a jibheaded topsail is set above the lateen-yard this cannot, of course, be done to the same extent as in the smaller fishing-craft which have but little gear aloft.


When close-hauled the heel of the yard sags out to windward in a way which is at first somewhat embarrassing to the fore-and-aft sailor. Its right position is formed, however, when the sheet is into the required extent, and the strain along the foot of the sail asserts itself. The tack tackles are used to prevent the yard from swinging, which it does with considerable violence in a seaway when the peak is being subjected to a series of wild oscillations; one tackle is brought aft and the other forward, or they are spread athwartship as may be necessary as a result of the position of the yard or the direction of its movement.


The sail is as a rule taken in by being furled to the yard, two or more brails being used in the first instance, to spill the wind, the canvas being then furled and tied by a hand upon the yard. The difficulty of the process naturally varies with the size of the vessel, but even in a moderate sea, furling a fifty-footer's lateen sail is no fun if you have had no practice at it and are not possessed of prehensile toes.

The virtue of the lateen, which at first sight seems ill-suited a sail to such squally coasts as those of the Mediterranean, is that it can always be let go with a run in a heavy blow; and my grandfather, who did many of his first surveys of that sea in a lateen-rigged paranzello, used to speak with emphasis of the handiness of the lateen in this respect. At the same time, the yard is long and inconvenient on deck, and it is better generally to keep it off the deck if possible. In many of the Italian coasters regular chocks are fitted to receive the long yard when lowered in bad weather, and a small storm-sail ready bent upon its yard is carried on the opposite side to the big sail all ready to be hoisted when the other is secured in its place.


The tricks which the skilled lateen-sailor plays with his sail are endless, and can be best seen among the trawlers off the Tuscan coast, where, to suit the varying strength of the wind, upper and lower spinnakers are set at one moment, and the next the big mainsail is being skilfully emptied of half its wind. When the trawls are hauled the yards are allowed to swing out forward and are brought on deck. No little experience is necessary to keep the sister boats working together on a trawl-net at exactly similar speeds as the changing puffs of wind come up astern, and there is no rest with the sheets or with the small auxiliary sails which are constantly being eased or tautened, hoisted, spilled, or taken in.


Only the trinchetto sails of the Tagus muleta exceed the Tuscan fisherman's in number and variety. But these boats are most beautiful when bending close-hauled to a stiff breeze on the beat home, when their weatherly qualities will delight any sailor.

My father, who at one time used one of the smaller Tuscan fishing-boats for a cruise of some months' duration, used to speak with pride of the power of his little craft to carry sail in strong winds; but he was unfortunate in his crew, which consisted of two men who, whenever it blew hard, first of all besought him to run for a port, and when he refused used to get out their rosaries and go upon their knees in the lee-scuppers, where they remained praying and crying until driven out of their retreat by an opportune green-sea. But these were longshoremen, very different from the generality of Italian fishermen, who are probably the finest mast and sail men of the Mediterranean at the present day, and whose one-masted luggers from the Adriatic coast may be seen as far east as the shores of Egypt.

TAGUS, 1861

From the records of the Mediterranean during the beginning of the last century, when, for the first time since the Crusades, it began again to be a sea known to British sailors, it is evident that the old three settee or felucca rig, the rig par excellence of that sea was then far commoner in comparison to others than is now the case.


The reason is not far to seek. At that time the old methods of warfare were still in vogue, and the three-masted lateen rig was well adapted to long vessels of easy lines and low freeboard of the galley type, which could be propelled at considerable speeds in calm weather by a large crew of rowers.


For warlike purposes they were used by the old Venetian and Genoese sailors of earlier centuries, by the Moors on the Barbary coast, and by the Greeks during the war of 1819, as well as by all the great sea-fighting nations for their small craft during the Napoleonic wars.

For large cargo carriers and for warfare, steam has taken the place of the old long sweeps, and the sail remains for the small coaster and the fisherman where economy in crew is necessary, and seagoing and carrying capacity are required as far as they can be made compatible with restricted size.


For large-sized coasters, therefore, the ordinary fore-and-aft or topsail schooner and the ketch rigs are often seen on the coasts of Italy. In the Adriatic especially the two-masted lugger is a very frequently found. As late as the forties and fifties examples of fair sized three-master lateens were still common-in the beautiful bragagna of Dalmatia (a true felucca, or rather settee in build and rig), in the brigantine shown off Torre di Rio, and in the peculiarly rigged velocera, which are both from sketches by my father.

The last-named is a development of what used on the Barbary coast to be known as a xebec, which was a felucca with square yards on the foremast.

(ELBA, 1841)

It was a rig which gradually came into favour for larger vessels, the main and mizen masts retaining the lateen yards. Not a few old drawings show that the square topsail was very frequently set during the last century over the lateen, as was done over the gaff mainsail of our old smacks. This was not only the case in the felucca-rigged vessels on fore and main masts, but also smaller paranzellos and others.

But as in northern countries the fore-and-aft jib-headed topsail has replaced the upper squaresail, so it has happened in the Mediterranean, and the jib-header is seen even over the lateen yard.

The three-masted, or settee rig, without topmast, is still retained in parts of the Mediterranean: one may instance the big coal-carrying gaiassas of lower Egypt, and some of the fruit-carrying and other long narrow-built boats in the neighbourhood of Naples.


The mizen is undoubtedly less common present day with the lateen-sail than it was during the first half of the last century. At Genoa, Leghorn, or Naples, the rig depicted in the Genoese bovo, and that of the paranzello, are seldom seen, the one-mast rig being the commoner. In some cases a fore-and-aft mizen instead of a lateen may also be met with. It is not easy to account for the lack of popularity of the mizen, as the lateen mizen is easily handled in a wide- sterned boat, and would be very serviceable in hard weather.

For sharp-sterned boats, however, such as the majority of the present small traders of the western basin and the Adriatic are, the mizen has its inconvenience if carried, as must be the case with the lateen mainsail, right aft on the taffrail.


It will be noticed that the lateen-sail of the Western Mediterranean differs considerably in shape from that of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. It is only in the smallest boats that the forward angle is cut off so as to make a piece of square-cut luff. The he Arab lateen is almost invariably so cut, and the sail is in truth a four-sided one. Its disadvantage when so cut is apparent on a wind, when a straight luff is more difficult to maintain, and the heel of the yard is inclined to take charge in a seaway because less controlled than it is by the Mediterranean tack tackles. It appears to be tradition that the old settees, small single-decked vessels of the felucca rig but without topmast, generally carried sails of the quadrilateral Arab pattern.

But the sail of the big lateener of the western basin is usually more nearly an equilateral triangle than that of the dhow, and it is more sober in the amount of peak given to it. The lateen, which is more exuberant in its peak, is of course that of the inland gaiassa of lower Egypt.


The western lateen always remains on one side of the mast, and is never shifted for a fresh tack. Its shape enables it to stand inside the rigging of the mast, and not outside at the extreme masthead as is necessary in the case of the Arab gaiassa, as a result of the cut of the sail and its high peak. The western lateen is thus far more snug to the mast, and more easily lowered on deck, and is certainly a more seamanlike and weatherly sail, while it is always made of stout material cut and roped after the European style.

A peculiar form of fore-and-aft mainsail, reminding one of the 'curtain' spritsail of Smyrna and Turkey, is that on the mainmast of the velocera, which is still frequently met with in a number of coasters in the Gulf of Genoa and the Tyrrhenian Sea.


The gaff is kept standing, and is a very long spar hung from one-third to one-half of the mast's length below the heel of the topmast; the mainsail is hauled out along it, when set, and travels on rings to the peak halyard slings. The peak is controlled by vangs going to each quarter, and no boom is used.

In conjunction with this low-cut mainsail is a huge jib-headed topsail which hoists on mast rings up the topmast, but is also laced along the portion of the lower mast which intervenes between the gaff and the heel of the topmast. When this topsail is taken in, the mainsail left standing is about equivalent to an ordinary sail with three reefs down, and is certainly snug enough for most purposes. This convenience is gained at the expense of a plan of sail-spread which is far less efficient in ordinary weather than that of the ordinary long-hoist fore-and-aft sail and topsail.


With this sail the mast is always given considerable rake aft, and while the lower mast is long, the top and the topmast are both rather short. The whole has rather a topple-over-stern air which does not impress the stranger.

Though seldom met with in three-masters at the present day, this arrangement is generally seen in conjunction with the very old style of foremast, placed right in the eyes of the ship and raking over the bows, upon which the old galleys and feluccas used to set the fore lateen. While the position of the mast, the old trinchetto, has been retained, the heavy lateen yard has been in these vessels taken off and a large main staysail, set along a stay from the maintop, is substituted.


The first record which I have been able to find of the use of this peculiar form of staysail is in a sketch made by my father in 1841, in the neighbourhood of Elba. In this case it is shown fitted to an ordinary felucca-rigged boat, the staysail taking the place of the fore lateen, it having been apparently introduced as a storm-sail, when the fore yard was lowered on deck in order to reduce weight of top hamper.

The bowsprit, taking the place of the old overhanging bow, to which the tack of the lateen worked, remains in the modern rig in order to carry a jib necessary to give the required head-sail in ordinary weather.

The staysail is of the four-sided type now in common use in square-rigged ships, and is fitted on the foremast with mast-rings. It is a handy sail with good lifting power, easily set and stowed; its centre of effort is low, and it involves no weight of spars aloft. But it is not remarkable for beauty, nor for flatness of set when close hauled, the upper fore angle being difficult to fill effectively on that point of sailing.

Lying in harbour, these vessels at first appear to have a set of very solid jib-booms all 'on end,' but a closer inspection shows that what appears to be a jib-boom is in reality the old-fashioned foremast of history still surviving.

This peculiar rig is largely an outcome of the meteorological conditions prevailing in the Gulf of Lyons and Tyrrhenian Seas, which alternate between calm bonaccia weather, occasional raggiature or land squalls, and the fierce, cold mistral from the north; or again the labeseltades, south-westerly gales of great violence, which blow home with a big sea of short range and very destructive power.


The Adriatic

The Adriatic provides a new rig to the sailor, for here is the powerful and flat-setting boomed Italian lugsail, which is seen alike in the trabacola or coasting trader, and in the gorgeous-sailed bragozzi which is familiar to all lovers of Venice and its colouring.

The weather in this sea is notoriously unstable, and the harbourless condition of the greater part of the Italian coast has rendered it absolutely necessary to use a powerful rig capable of working out to windward off a lee shore. Both with the siffante or south-wester, and with the bora, the heavy, westerly blast which has dismasted so many good ships, sudden shifts of wind take place, followed by squalls of such violence and fierceness that a snug sail-plan and a powerful build of hull are alike essential.


The burst of a siffante on this coast is a thing not to be forgotten. It is a hot morning, and the sun flashes off the windows of the distant city, which bears a little south of west. A long swell comes up from southward, where a bank of threatening cloud lies, the upper edges lit up like the summits of great snowpeaks. We lie up close-hauled on the port tack to a light air from south-west. The aneroid has fallen the part of a tenth since our morning dish of maccaroni, which, by reason of the swell and the hot sun, was perhaps not greatly appreciated. It is consequently with much impatience that we feel the roll, and long for wind, and eye the threatening horizon. A dull film of cirrus brings a haze over the sky above us, and the whole world seems to silently threaten us with some terrific peril. Not long after, the wind suddenly comes among a few spasmodic white caps on the sea, sighs through our rigging, and is gone again.


Our close-reefed lugsail bangs about over our heads, and strains every rope and strand aloft. Then it comes, first a puff abeam, then one nearly right ahead, and steady and stiffening minute by minute. Night seems to settle down and cover us up. The great strong bow breasts through the short breaking seas, but the force of the wind presses her down until all our lee side is awash, and the mast is at such an angle that the foot of the sail is becalmed by our weather gunwale. We are making terrific speed, but taking in water everywhere. In the midst of this, and when we are beginning devoutly to wish we had a less heavy boom and roll of reefs to our sail, the mole of the harbour appears soused in heavy sprays under our lee. Gently and cautiously the sheet is slacked away by the strong-handed crew.


The few minutes' run is desperately exciting, because we are sailing by the lee, and a gybe is imminent. A steep, fierce sea, showing its angry white teeth, seems to spring down upon the starboard quarter, the main-sheet suddenly falls in folds into the water, and with a bang like a gun's the sail sweeps across above our heads. The sheet and tack part simultaneously, and the sail lies in a bag, pinned by the gale in the rigging. However, it is a few moments more into the lee of the mole, where with a short sweep we round into the wind's eye. For a few minutes the sail has charge aloft, but as every thing is slacked up, it is got in without having broken any arms or legs, as it seemed determined to do. Before night the sun is shining along the low, cloudy sky, and the wind is hard, but moderating.


To tell the truth, we felt mighty glad we were so near the land, for, while it lasted, there was a fierceness in it, a driving, hitting power which seemed uncanny, and which left us feeling surprised, bruised, and mystified, especially those of us who were new to Eastern seas. The paralysing power of a strong wind, which grips and holds down the limbs, and overpowers the brain, and the stinging, vicious onslaught of the hard, salt spray ceaselessly slapping the eyes and face, if continued for many hours, are able to conquer the stoutest will, and are the direct cause of many a sea tragedy. It is at such a time that one feels their pitiless strength, and realises why so often shipwrecked crews are unable to do anything to save themselves.

The typical Italian lugsail seen in the Adriatic, and from thence carried to the far corners of the Mediterranean by its enterprising seamen, is what we term a balance-lug -- a Chinese lug without the battens, laced to boom as well as yard, and when hoisted set up by the tack purchase.


To prevent a 'back sail' against the mast, and to ensure flatness of set, the Adriatic or Italian sail has its tack purchase brought to the deck at some distance away from the mast.

The bragozzi, stern on, and the topo, or mouse, of Venice show this peculiarity. If the sail is hoisted on the starboard side of the mast, the tack purchase comes to a point about midway between the line of the mast and the starboard gunwale. I am not aware that this method of setting down the tack of the lugsail is adopted anywhere else.

Of the Adriatic sailing craft, the best known, because the most seaworthy, and the one which carries the largest proportion of the coast trade, is the two-masted lugsail trabacola.

The high bow, the round stern, and the deep rudder hung on the stern-post outside the vessel, are characteristics of this as of most of the purely Mediterranean types of craft.


The mainsail is set on a mast stepped well inboard, and although generally smaller in actual area than the foresail, it has the power of a mainsail rather than of a mizen. It is of standing-lug cut, and the luff is generally set taut by bowlines.

The fore-lug is more of the character of a balance lug proper, for it has a considerable length of boom and area of sail forward of the mast. The tack-rope is often so slackened up as to allow a large portion of the sail to swing out forward, giving the sail an odd appearance, suggesting that it requires setting up; but on certain angles of wind it is considered to draw better when thus set. The pilot-boats of Alexandria are rigged in this fashion, and it is an excellent rig for open or ships' boats which require short spars and modest sail-spread. But they would be the better in general for a light bowsprit and jib on most points of sailing.

The bowsprit of the trabacola, like so many of those in the Mediterranean, is topped up at a high angle, and carries one or more jibs. These boats are of beautiful lines and great power, and constitute one of the finest forms of sea-going luggers in the world.


Another form of lugger very similar to this occurs in the big two-masted traders of the Spanish coast, which appears to be an outcome of the same ideas, and like the two-masted lateen felucca, also in use there, it shows evident connection with the general mast and sail plan adopted by the French and other Latins.

They both carry the somewhat long-yarded but squareheaded lugsail which the southern races often substitute for the lateen. Both show the same tendency to obtain the balance of sail by placing the foremast right forward, and setting a lugsail upon it, sometimes a little larger even than the mainsail, thus avoiding the need of the stay foresail so generally adopted by the northern races, who place the forward mast well back from the stem-head.


The bowsprit and jib are modern adjuncts both with the Norse and the Latin races, and only came into general use during the nineteenth century. The jib has proved itself useful a sail that it is now almost universal with lateen and lug-rigged vessels alike.

The Venetian boats are remarkable for the very slight draught forward, and consequently they carry centre of effort of their sail area very far aft. Many of the small fishing-craft, like the topo, may be seen sailing with what looks like a large mizen, only stepped well inboard. At first one feels a keen desire to present their owners with a foremast and headsail after the usual proportions. But further consideration soon shows that the sail is correctly placed relatively to the centre of lateral resistance, which is much further aft than in most boats.


The insignificance of the foremast and foresail of the bragozzi, and the importance of the large, gaily coloured mainsail, are due to this cause. The trabacola and other deep-water craft have necessarily far more underwater body forward, and thus can carry a sail-plan more suited to seagoing purposes. But the light craft of the Lagoon of Venice are of the flat-bottomed, mud-larking type, capable navigating shoal-waters with a minimum of draught a maximum of carrying power. Wherever their owner can wade they must carry him and his wares. Of his deep channels are far between. And they are q??? turn a r, light to move to with the stroke of long oar an air of wind or by a pair of arms, steady to carry 11 weight of goods, and not to flinch at a squall of wind and at the short ripple which soon gets UP in the wind Lagoon waters.


What beautiful memories that little topo under sail brings back! The wide grey waters under a grey rimmed by low grey islands and tall grey towers; the sparkling blue of a sunny day, with the far city, long unchallenged mistress of the sea-world, in all colouring, and the snow-white, distant range, on the sky-line; the lapping of the tide along the piles, the cheery voice of my friend Antonio instructing ??? in short cuts across the flats, the character of his friends, or stories of the days of the old Republic's greatness.


The big single-mast lugger of Ancona and the south is in build a smaller trabacola fitted with one mast in place of two.


Her big mainsail is of the same pattern as that of her big sister, and her bowsprit stands up at the same truculent angle. Capable, wandering sea-boats, they are to be seen heading up to a gregale off Malta, or away down east running with dry decks before the long roll of a Levanter.


The Eastern Basin

The Italian form of lugsail takes us among the modern Greek fishermen, who use it in many of their sponge-boats and other fishing-craft, and in their small traders of the Archipelago. But the Greeks, although they built and fitted out quite a fleet of felucca-rigged privateers in the early wars of the nineteenth century, are not really sailors at heart.


Our own seamen in times past had a very poor opinion of the seamanship of the pukka Greek, and a naval officer who spent three years of one commission in and about the Aegean, declared that he could never get any information out of a Greek pilot except long lists of omens foreboding bad weather, or of ports to run to when the wind should freshen up.

It must in justice be admitted that navigation under sail in small craft has its drawbacks in a sea where the wind, even in weather of an apparently settled character, is liable to such sudden shifts as is here the case.


The sheltered anchorage of one hour is a dead lee-shore the next; the greater the apparent protection when the anchor is dropped close in, the more imminent the danger when the wind is blowing a sudden gale right on the rocks.


A southerly wind and fine weather may suddenly shift to due north with a heavy squall and confused sea, while six miles to the eastward a distant sail is seen with a fresh easterly wind. *1* Such incidents, frequent as they are in an archipelago of deep soundings and few real harbours where ground-tackle is of service, have had the effect of almost driving the not too daring Greek of the mainland off the sea.

*1* Admiral W. Smyth's  Mediterranean.

A large part of the trade and fishing of the Aegean and Levant is carried on by Turks, who, although not perhaps such skilled sailors as the Arabs and the Moors have been, have yet all the courage and pertinacity of their co-religionists at sea.


A favourite rig, to be seen alike among the islands of the Archipelago and in the Dardanelles, is the single-masted spritsail vessel carrying a square topsail, fore Staysail, and one or more jibs. The mainsail is hauled out along an almost horizontal line to the spreet end.

There is no boom, and the spreet is controlled by vangs. The sail can be hauled into the mast with great rapidity and ease, and it is a quick and simple method of brailing and reefing which commends itself to the cautious Eastern sailor. As a rule it is badly set, being cut to bag in a manner less artistic than serviceable, this mode of cut, dear to the Eastern heart, being more conducive to speed when handled by those who understand it than we generally imagine, especially in heavy-laden craft.


The Turkish boat is built long of bow, low in waist, round of bilge, and high of stern. The latter is rounded and generally has the rudder slung outside on the curved stern-post. The low waist is often protected by a duck or canvas strake, which is easily removed in light weather for pulling, as in many of the Greek boats of the Archipelago.


Simple sprit or low-yarded lateen boats are used for fishing and cargo-carrying in the Bosphorus. They have the same general features of build, and a fore staysail or jib, and are known as mahona. But the most typical craft of Turkish waters, next to the caique -- the long-bowed, wide-sterned rowing boat of the Bosphorus -- is the polacre-rigged trader. This class of vessel was very common at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and although still met with on other coasts, as in the Tuscan bombarda, not quite extinct, it is most popular with Eastern Mediterranean seamen.


As a rule it is what we should term a pole-masted brigantine, but the name can, and used to, be applied to any square-rigged vessel having pole-masts.


As is implied by this description, the yards are lowered right down to just above the foreyard for furling; there are no foot-ropes, the crew standing on the yard below from which they can just reach to furl each sail above. There are no tops, and the mast has a peculiar tapering appearance not unpleasing to the eye.

The mainsail is either a balance-lug or of the fore-and-aft pattern, with very long boom, and the mainmast, in the latter case, is often in two parts, and is fitted with main and main-topmast staysail and jib-headed gaff topsail. It often acquires a tipsy-looking rake forward, while the foremast adopts a somewhat similar drunken rake aft. The crews are inclined to bestow more pains upon the cleanliness of the sails and gear aloft than upon that of their own persons or of their cabins. Yet some of these little brigantines are perfect pictures, and are greatly cared for by their owners.


I shall always remember the little vessel which we saw one night as we steamed eastward in a big mail boat, a few hours before entering the Canal. The sun was low astern of us, when, crossing our bow closehauled to a brisk westerly breeze, a white-sailed polacre brigantine of not more than 150 tons passed us. She was deep-laden, and her long bow had the look of a dolphin as she rose through the swell. She was sailing very fast, with every sail drawing full and bathed in the sun's rays, and she threw the spray off to windward in showers into the deep blue of the sea. The whole ship's company watched her in admiration until she was far away on our quarter -- a beautiful vision come and gone of the lands and seas we were leaving behind us, some of us, alas! for ever.

(TAGUS, 1861)





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