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Author Topic: Construction of the last Rabelo, antique Douro river boat carried Porto wine  (Read 16997 times)

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Well, we have here on a net in Portugal, a Portuguese Forum -  "The City Amazingly" "A blog of images and a few words about Porto, one extraordinary blog." Wherein appeared an article by Mr.Carlos Romão, concerning the construction of the last Rabelo, an antique river ship used to carry Porto, Portugal wine barrels. (These links pop into a new window, so you may come back and read the rest of the story.)

Make a brief but virtual visit to Porto via YouTube.

Portugal's Douro River
"Europe's most beautiful river"

[float=left][/float]
For thousands of years, foreign connoisseurs have cherished the wine that is grown in northeast Portugal on the mountainsides along the Douro River.
Douro wine was often mentioned in royal decrees, and by the 13th century it was shipped down the Douro River to the coastal town of Porto, and exported as far afield as Holland.
By the beginning of the 17th century as many as 1,200,000 cases reached Porto each year, and in 1638 a German diplomat named Cristiano Kopke founded a Douro wine shipping company that is still in existence today. In 1675 wine destined for Holland was called for the first time by its modern name: Porto. Although, by law, only wine produced in Portugal may be called Porto, other countries accept and respect its translation (Port or Port Wine).

These reaches of the Douro have a micro-climate allowing for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes important for making the famous Port wine. The region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira is considered to be the center of Port wine, with its picturesque quintas or farms clinging on to almost vertical slopes dropping down to the river.

Traditionally, the wine was taken down river in flat-bottom boats called rabelos, to be stored in barrels in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto. As you cross the bridge Luís I to Vila Nova de Gaia, you may admire the Rabelo boats on the riverbank. They are the symbol of the famous Port Wine and the trademark of the Port Wine Cellars.

The Rabelo boat, which was invented in the 9th century, was used for transporting the products from the farms of the Douro for centuries. In 1792, the Companhia Geral da Agricultura e Vinha do Alto Douro published numerous charters and documents concerning this type of boat, therefore establishing the identity of the Rabelo.

The purpose of its peculiar shape was to overcome the natural obstacles of the Douro river and to make the boatmans task easier.

The large amount of Port Wine produced in the farms required frequent transportation downriver. The journey lasted more than a week and the conditions were precarious, often leading to dangerous accidents.

Following the construction of the railway and the improvement of the public highway, the Rabelo boat gradually lost its importance. Finally, the dams along the Douro river brought its activity to a standstill.

Nowadays, this symbol of the Port Wine and trademark of the Cellars still competes fiercely for a place of honour in the regatta of S. João, organized by the Confraria do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Brotherhood) on June 24th (municipal holiday).



The smallboats seen here in Porto, with the broad sails are what this article discusses.




This is an unique document and is the only one of its kind. In my opinion, it is an excellent recent historic document and deserves republishing to help preserve its historic significance. The two languages are presented side by side, the original document in Portuguese to preserve the original inflection of the story and then to the right is an English translation. Please be aware that the following is a work in progress. For now it is a direct translation, from the original Portuguese using Googletm translator. The translation to English is a bit rough in places. Please excuse this, as the English text will be further edited.  But by all means, please enjoy your visit, as we follow along this story.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 01:12:41 AM by oliveira »

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 08:42:43 AM »
The construction of the last Rabelo, an antique river ship used to carry Porto wine barrels.

A group of naval carpenters (today, have all passed away…) began this “adventure” to build the last Rabelo! They chose one little river island named “LOMBA” in Douro and after a nice lunch ---sardines grilled with red wine, very much enjoyed in Portugal, they choose the appropriate trees to make the boat! The barque is constructed step by step, as you see. .

This film entitled "The Architecture of the Rabelo", a documentary produced in 1992 in collaboration with the acknowleged naval archaeology researcher Octávio Lixa Filgueiras, is now available on DVD-video format with menu options for soundtrack in Portuguese, English and French, portraying a detailed survey of the way the Rabelo boats were built on the banks of the River Douro, in the North of Portugal. These characteristics, widely known of the boats used to carry the Port Wine barrels stopped sailing over 40 years ago. The construction of a boat Rabelo, may pass unnoticed to most people, but what they do not know, is what makes it odd.

This documentary will clarify the details of greatest interest of a kind of boat building which is practically peculiar to the River Douro and which represents exactly the Nordic processes of wooden ship construction, that is the hull is shaped in clinker planking before the ribs are fitted. Molds are not used, the shapes being derived from basic measurements, the experience of a master craftsman inherited from the practical experience of many generations and provides one of the rare, perhaps last, opportunities to record the sights of a lost tradition: on a sand beach of the Douro; directed by the last master boat builder of the river with the few remaining artisans who had worked with the masters of their trade.

Architecture of Rabelo
Author: Mr. Carlos Romão

I PARTE

Mestre Arnaldo Pereira, então com 80 anos, natural de Avintes, construtor de barcos valboeiros utilizados na pesca e transporte no troço final do rio Douro;

Júlio Pereira, natural de Avintes, era o mais novo, com 59 anos, filho do grande construtor Alfredo Francisco, irmão do mestre Arnaldo e de profissão carpinteiro de valboeiros e barcos de pá;

Manuel Monteiro, nascido em Bitetos, então com 71 anos, filho de João Rouquinho, célebre arrais do Vinho do Porto, e ele próprio marinheiro de barcos rabelos e barquinhas;

Miguel da Silva, de Santiago, Melres, tinha 62 anos; antigo marinheiro e pescador do rio, além de carpinteirar foi o cozinheiro deste grupo;

Arnaldo Vieira, da praia da Areja, com 60 anos, arrais de rabões, barqueiro e pescador do rio funcionou como ajudante do mestre.
PART I

Master Arnaldo Pereira, then 80 years old, was born at Avintes, a maker of boats valboeiros used for fishing and transportation in the final stretch of the river Douro;


Julio Pereira, was also born at Avintes, he was the youngest, at 59 years, the son of the great builder Alfredo Francisco, brother of Master Arnold. A carpenter by profession of valboeiros(typical fishing boats) and of paddle or row boats;

Manuel Monteiro, was born at Bitetos, then 71 years old, the son of John Rouquinho, famous skipper of the Port wine boats Rabelos and barquinhas;
 


Miguel da Silva, of Santiago, Melres, was 62 years old. A former sailor and fisherman of the river, and also a carpenter, was the cook of the group;


Arnaldo Vieira, was born at Praia da Areia, was 60 years old, a skipper of rabões, boatman and fisherman of the river, was 2nd in charge, as assistant to the master.


A Arquitectura do Rabelo é o título de um estudo do prof. arquitecto Octávio Lixa Filgueiras , que serviu como roteiro para um filme documentário produzido por José Monteiro e realizado por Vítor Bilhete.

Este documentário correspondeu talvez à última oportunidade de fixar imagens para o futuro, de uma tradição hoje perdida: a construção de um barco rabelo por um dos últimos mestres calafates do rio, já desaparecido, com alguns artífices que com os mestres trabalharam.

O processo decorreu em absoluto respeito pelo método nórdico de carpintaria naval, ou seja a formação do casco antes da montagem das cavernas. Sem máquinas, apenas com o esforço humano, e sem moldes, as formas foram obtidas a partir de medidas básicas tradicionais, o gosto do artista e a prática de muitas gerações.
As filmagens decorreram entre Junho e Agosto de 1991 em vídeo e em película de 35mm. Infelizmente não houve suporte financeiro para a montagem da versão cinematográfica, que se mantém em negativo.

A versão DVD pode ser adquirida na Sinalvídeo , a quem pertencem os direitos das fotografias aqui exibidas, por correio electrónico para: correio@sinalvideo.pt .
Comecemos então pela apresentação dos «artistas-artesãos-figurantes» como lhes chamou Lixa Filgueiras , autor do guião aqui adaptado livremente.

The Architecture of Rabelo is the title of a study of Professor of Architecture: Octávio Lixa Filgueiras , who served as script writer for a film documentary produced by Joseph Monteiro and held by Vitor Bilhete.

This documentary was perhaps the last chance to fix images for the future of a tradition now lost: the construction of a boat Rabelo by one of the last master caulker of the river, with some artisans who worked with him in this task.

The process took place in strict compliance with the method of Nordic European naval carpentry, or the formation of the hull before the assembly of the timbers. Without machines, only with the human effort, and without molds, the forms were obtained from traditional basic measures, the taste of the artist and the practice of many generations.
The filming took place between June and August 1991 on video and film from 35mm.
Unfortunately there was no financial support for the assembly of the film version, which remains in a negative form only.

The DVD version can be purchased in Sinalvídeo, who owns the rights of the photographs shown here, by e-mail to: correio@sinalvideo.pt.
Let then the presentation of the "artist-craftsmen - figurantes' as they were called by Lixa Filgueiras, author of the script adapted here freely.

O local escolhido para a construção do barco foi o areio da Lomba, a poucos quilómetros do Porto, devido à importância do trabalho se realizar num espaço aberto e amplo, permitindo o acerto a olho do apuramento das formas do casco e a fruição da própria vida do rio. Geralmente não havia estaleiros fixos.

Os barcos construíam-se nas praias junto às povoações dos clientes que se entendiam com os mestres acordando as condições: o tipo e o tamanho do barco medido em pipas; à jorna ou por ajuste de preço; com ou sem fornecimento de materiais ou de comida.

Navegar no mar é uma coisa, mas navegar à vela contra a corrente de um rio, só um barco de características muito especiais o pode fazer.

The place chosen for the construction of the boat was the sandbank named Lomba, a few kilometres from the town of Porto, the importance of this work needs an open and wide space, allowing the adjustment by eye( only tool used at the begining) of the clearance of the hull forms taken by the workers at the same time they are also enjoying the life of the river side. Usually there were no fixed dockyards.
 
In the past the boats were built on the beaches near the villages where customers who understood the technical language of the carpenters, either agreeing…or not with the conditions: the type and size of the boat, measured in capacity of barrels, an adjustment of price; paid by day or total with or without supply of materials or food.

Navigating the sea is one thing, but navigating the sailing against the current of a river, only a vessel of very special characteristics can do.


Se o mestre era de fora e trazia alguns ajudantes, montavam uma barraca onde se instalavam.  A comida era cozinhada no próprio local da obra.If the master was outside and brought some helpers, they would set up a tent where they would stay. Cooking facilities were also set up inside for preparing the food, and for escaping the weather on stormy days.


Contratada a obra por ajuste de preço, o mestre Arnaldo escolheu as árvores que lhe convinham para a madeira necessária.Agreeing with the price, the master Arnaldo  chose the trees to be appropriated for wood if necessary.


Inicia-se a construção do rabelo pelo fundo chato - o sagro, estrado lenticular alongado constituído por número impar de pranchões de 4 cm de espessura. As tábuas pregam umas às outras, de encosto, de modo a que o fundo seja autêntico fundo de prato, ao contrário do dos barcos do troço final do rio, cujos fundos são de tábua trincada. Passada uma corda a meio do estrado donde sairá o sagro, marcam-se os terços - na verdade uma divisão em quatro partes iguais - e nessas marcas estabelecem-se as larguras simetricamente, com a ajuda de um compasso ou dum sarrafo.The basic construction of the Rabelo, named “ Sagro”, is begun. An elongated, lenticular platform, consisting of odd number of planks - 4 cm thick. The boards join to each other perfectly side by side, forming an authentic bottom of a dish, unlike the boats in other parts  of the river, whose hulls are of mismatched boards. Using a marking cord in the middle of the platform the “Sagro”, is then marked to a division of four equal parts, being set symmetrically, with the help of a compass or a lath.


Estas marcações e o contorno do sagro são feitas com a linha batida. A linha é embebida em água e impregnada com pó de cortiça queimada, permitindo a marcação directa. É de salientar a perícia com que o mestre consegue realizar alinhamentos curvos por este processo. These markings and the contour of “Sagro” are made with a snap line. The line is soaked in water and powder of burnt cork, allowing a direct mark. The master is able to perform precise alignments of curved joinery by this process.


Depois de serrado o contorno do sagro e feito um primeiro solinhado - corte oblíquo no rebordo exterior - pregam-se as travessas que o mantêm solidário.After sawing and shaping of the contour of “Sagro”, making a first “solinhado”-oblique cutting edge in the outer-edges, the cross beams are nailed giving strength to the basic hull plate..


Começam então a cravar as estacas do picadeiro. 0 picadeiro é formado por uma série de estacas cravadas no chão e acertadas em altura de modo a que o sagro apresente o perfil desejado.Now, stakes are driven in precise spots. The actual building area is formed by a series of stakes driven into the ground marking out the desired profile.


0 sagro acaba por ser transportado para cima do picadeiro. Em caso de necessidade usavam-se pedras ou sacos de areia para o sujeitar ao perfil definido pelas estacas.The “Sagro” is now transported up to the building area. In case they are needed, stones or bags of sand are used to force the profile predefined by the stakes.


Segue-se o traçado - batendo a linha -,feitura e montagem das oucas, as peças de reforço interior, da proa e da popa. A sua colocação nas extremidades do sagro obriga a várias verificações: as alturas são tomadas nos extremos do sagro, para as linhas estendidas dos terços aos extremos dos bicos; o acerto a olho e de longe do perfil do conjunto do sagro mais oucas, ou seja o próprio perfil do barco; o alinhamento e acerto no plano vertical, a partir da linha estendida de proa à popa, de onde se tiram os prumos. Assim, as oucas ficam mantidas na devida posição, com as estacas sustidas por pernas.Here the builder follows the route - marked by the snap line - making and assembling of the “oucas” (parts of strengthening interior), the bow and stern. Its placement on the extremities of ”Sagro” will require the various checks: the extreme heights are taken of the “Sagro”, and to the lines extended by thirds of the extremes of the nibs of the prow and stern, the adjustments are made by eye and always far from the profile as a whole, ie. the actual profile of the boat. Alignment and adjustment in the vertical plane is from the line extended from bow to stern, from where the workers take out the plums. Thus, the “oucas” are retained in position, with the piles supported for legs.
   

0 sagro, consolidado com travessas de reforço provisórias, vai começar a ser urdido. Urdir o barco é vesti-lo com o tabuado dos costados. Urdir the boat is clothe it with the tabuado of costados. As primeiras tábuas são as biqueiras, uma a cada bordo - peças triangulares a formar o rodo, à proa, abraçam a ouca pelo exterior e terminam no terço de vante. Repare-se no ajuste das tábuas que têm que ficar empenadas, tomando a forma com a ajuda de paus que funcionam como alavancas.The “Sagro”, consolidated with provisory beams to boost relief, are installed (“urdir”) with garboard stakes. The first boards are gutters one by each board to form triangular pieces-the path to the bow, they adjoin directly to the outside of the “ouca” and end one third of the prow. Look at the boards for adjustment that must be stiffed, which takes form with the help of sticks that act as levers.


A própria configuração da parte superior das biqueiras é acertada no sítio, batendo-se a linha. As biqueiras sobrepõem-se ao solinho - corte oblíquo no rebordo exterior - do sagro e são por sua vez solinhadas para receberem a primeira fiada corrida, também chamada primeiro solinho. 0 primeiro solinho é constituído por três peças a cada borda. Monta-se a primeira à proa, segue-se a de ré e finaliza-se com a do meio, que remata o conjunto.The actual configuration of the upper gutters is right on the site, again following the marked line. The gutters overlap to the solinho-oblique cutting edge to the outside-the “Sagro” is chiselled to receive the first row race, also called the first chiseling. Mounted first to the bow, and then to the stern and joining with the middle, finishing this part of the construction.


As fiadas corridas - o primeiro solinho, o segundo solinho e as corridas - não são inteiriças. As peças que as constituem ficam ligadas por uniões de escarva lavada contrafiadas para dar mais segurança aos costados. É sempre o mesmo sistema: tábua a um bordo, tábua a outro, borda trincada, emendas com uniões de escarva, acerto à linha do bordo superior de cada fiada, solinhados, etc.The rows races - the first solinho, the second one, and the others are not totally finished. The pieces that remain are linked by unions (this type of union is named in Portuguese language  “escarva lavada”) to give more security to broadsides. It is always the same system: board to a board, the cracked edge board , with amendments unions or joints, join the line of the upper edge of each row, solinhados, etc..

Part 2 Next
« Last Edit: December 02, 2007, 05:41:51 PM by oliveira »

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 09:19:14 AM »
Architecture of Rabelo
Author: Mr. Carlos Romão


II PARTE - 26 de Agosto de 2005

A última fiada, a faísca, não é completa, porque a curva da boca em perfil permite que vá de fora a fora.
PART II-August 26, 2005

The last row, the spark, is not complete, because the curve of the mouth in the profile continues on outside and beyond the hull.


Urdido o barco, isto é, modelado o casco e mantida a sua forma por estacas exteriores e travessas interiores, passa-se à operação seguinte: a de acavernar.“Urdido” or covering the sides of the boat with wood planking, that is: forming the hull and maintaining the form by a static exterior of stacks and interior crossbars, progresses to the following step: installing the ribs to the interior.


Obviamente tem de marcar-se primeiro a localização das cavernas. Parear o sagro chama-se à divisão do sagro em partes iguais, feita através do seu eixo longitudinal e correspondente ao espaçamento das cavernas. A primeira fiada de pipas nelas assenta directamente. Compreende-se por isso a importância desta fase. Dela depende a boa arrumação da carga, a própria lotação do barco. Daí a palavra rumo, que corresponde ao comprimento de uma pipa medida. De facto ao disporem-se as pipas longitudinalmente, tampo contra tampo, cada uma deve assentar em duas cavernas sucessivas, sobrando para cada lado o espaço de um quarto de pipa igual a meio casal, sendo o casal o espaço entre cavernas correspondente a meia pipa. Este era o sistema tradicional dos barcos grandes que podiam transportar oitenta pipas em quatro camadas.Obviously, it is necessary to first mark the location of the ribs. “Parear“ means the division into equal parts, made through the longitudinal axis and corresponds to the spacing of the ribs. The first row of the wine casks are based on them directly, which is very important at this phase. It depends on the proper stowage of cargo, the very capacity of the vessel. Hence the word course or route, which corresponds to the length of a cask. Actually the casks or barrels are placed longitudinally, cover or lid against cover, each must be based on two successive ribs, leaving each side to the area of a quarter of a cask or equal to half a ”casal” a “casal” is the corresponding space between the couple of ribs. This is the traditional system of large boats that could carry eighty barrels in four layers.


Não há paus que as façam inteiras, às cavernas. Nos barcos antigos, uma pernada em L, a caverna mestra, era completada com o pegão, unido de aparo e cintado com arco de pipa. Daí o assentamento alternando os pegões a uma e outra borda do barco.  Como vemos neste caso a construção foi-se aligeirando; cada caverna tem um pegão a cada lado o que torna mais frágil a estrutura.  0 acerto das cavernas e pegões é feito directamente no casco.No natural piece of wood exists that allows to make a complete rib at once. In the old boats, one piece had a shape of an L, the master rib, which was supplemented with “pegão”, a piece connected in nib and belted with the arc of a pipe. Hence the settlement alternating the “pegões” (plural of “pegão” from one to the other edge of the boat. As we see in this case the building was alleviating itself; every rib has a “pegão” to each side which makes the structure stronger. The adjustment of the ribs and “pegões” is done directly on the hull.


Após a colocação destes reforços transversais interiores passam a tratar dos reforços de bordadura, ou seja das guarnições. A borda é cintada por fora com os verdugos, terminados à proa e à ré pelos curvatões, e no interior com as dragas. Muitas vezes usavam o fogo para encurvar estas pecas.After placing these interior transversal reinforcements they start to deal with reinforcements of the edge trimmings. The edge is belted outside with “verdugos”. “Verdugo” is a lath rounded fixed longitudinally to the sides of the boat to protect it against damages of shocks. They end at the prow and the stern by the pieces called “curvatões”, and inside with the dredges. Often the heat from fire is used to shape these pieces.


Interiormente as dragas inteiriças, ficam sujeitas às estameiras - cavernas especiais mais altas e reforçadas - e são presas solidariamente aos verdugos por meio de tornos de madeira, feitos no local. Os tornos saem de pedaços de carvalho, cortados a machado e afeiçoados a enxó. Introduzidos nos orifícios, abertos com o trado de fora a fora, isto é abarcando os verdugos, as cavernas e a própria draga. Apertados a malho, ficam travados com as cunhas, nos extremos mais afilados, cravadas de fora para dentro.Inside the entire dredges, are subject to “estameiras” - special ribs higher and strengthened, and are connected to the “verdugos” through lathes of wood, crafted on the spot. These are made by pieces of oak, cut by hatchet and finished by an adze. They are mounted in holes previously opened by a boring tool, this is comprising “verdugos” the ribs and the dredge itself. The lathes are blocked with wedges using a mallet. The wedges sharp at the ends are studded from outside to the inside.


0 coqueiro - o coberto à ré - depois de pronto sobrepõe-se parcialmente a um estrado - a chileira de ré - onde a tripulação dormia e cujo espaço interior constituía a despensa de bordo, e por isso era tapada à frente.The “coqueiro”- that is the covered stern -ready after partly covering one platform deck “chileira de ré”  where the crew slept and whose interior space was the storeroom, and had a hatch or doorway opening.


Enquanto no barco se acaba a chileira de ré, cá fora tratam de afeiçoar a chumaceira - um cepo de freixo ou sobreiro - onde trabalhará a espadela - o remo de governo do barco. Acabada essa peça, ela é montada de encaixe na popa, sobre a ouca.While on the stern of the boat “the chileira de ré”, the workers adjust carefully the cradle, one stump of ash or cork tree-where it will work the “espadela”-the paddle to control the rowing of the boat as a big helm.  Finishing that piece, it is mounted by skew notch on the stern-in one “ouca” (inside part of strengthening)


Observa-se igualmente a pré-montagem dos escamões, os pilares das apègadas - a plataforma elevada de acesso à espadela - e a preparação da carlinga, onde entrará, na respectiva pia, o pé do mastro.There is also a pre-assembly of “escamões”, the pillars of ”apègadas”-high platform of access to “espadela”-and the preparation of a mast step, where it will enter, in the sink, the foot of the mast.


E já se começa a preparar a praia para tombar o barco. Este é aliviado de todas as peças móveis. A operação de tombar é feita com a ajuda de bois que vão accionar as jangadas de polés de duas rodas.  Os cabos destas polés são passados do barco, isto é das dragas, para uma estacada aonde se orde o aparelho de forca.And now it is time to prepare the beach to turn the boat over. This is relieved of all the moving parts. The operation to perform the turn over is made with the help of oxen that will set in motion with the aid of pulleys with two wheels.  Ropes of these pulleys are passed to the boat, that is the dredges, for a palisade where a differential force is applied.

Next Part 3
« Last Edit: November 26, 2007, 12:36:45 PM by oliveira »

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2007, 11:31:16 PM »
Architecture of Rabelo
Author: Mr. Carlos Romão


III PARTE - 30 de Agosto de 2005

A operação de tombar é muito delicada pois exige uma boa coordenação do esforço das juntas de bois.
PART III-August 30, 2005

The operation of turning over the hull is very delicate because it requires a good coordination of the effort by the oxen.


0 barco vai apinando, enquanto os carpinteiros esperam o momento de lhe enfisgar os pranchões, mal ele abata um pouco, depois de ter atingido o ponto cimeiro da viragem. Depois regula-se-lhe a inclinação, cavando a terra sob os apoios, que por fim assentarão em soleiras.The boat is beginning to turn, while the carpenters are waiting for the moment to install the big planks, badly, it abates a little, having reached the top of its turning point. After the inclination is regulated, by digging the earth under the supports, which will finally seat her on the sills (thresholds).


Procede-se à tosa do costado, batendo a linha ao longo das fiadas. Reprega-se tudo por fora, ficando as pontas dos pregos reviradas. O sagro é preso às cavernas com cavilhas de ferro. Tudo isto é feito ao longo do casco, trepando os carpinteiros em banquetas ou madeiros, pendurados como andaimes.Next the operation called “tosa” is the perfection of all surfaces along the flank, shaping the line along the rows with an hatchet . The carpenters put more nails from outside of the structure leaving the tips of those to turn inside out. The sagro is connected to the ribs with iron bolts. All this is done over the hull, the carpenters on small benches, hanging like scaffolding.



Para a calafetagem, preparam a estopa em rolos, que depois vai ser metida nas juntas com os ferros - os grafetos - accionados por meio de macêtas. Quando o casco não é novo, usam latinhas com água para limpar os restos do calafete anterior.
For caulking, they prepare the tow in coils, which will then be inserted into the joints using a special chisel called “grafetos” applied with a mason’s mallet. When the hull is not new, as in restoration work, which is not the situation of the current job, they use cans with water to clean the residues of old caulking made earlier.


Depois de calafetado, o casco será embreado com pez louro, a que se adiciona um pouco de gordura de carneiro para correr melhor.Esta mistura é aquecida em panelas de ferro de três pés, e aplicada com escopeiros - uma espécie de pincéis feitos com pele de carneiro. Procede-se à embreagem pelo exterior e posteriormente por dentro do barco, o que vai exigir nova operação - o botar abaixo.After that, the hull will be impregnated with pitch blond, which adds a bit of fat from sheep to run better. This mixture is heated in three foot diameter iron pots , and applied with “escopeiros”-a kind of brush made from the skin of sheep. The impregnation is started on the outside of the hull followed by the inside of the boat, which will require a new operation-“ o botar a baixo”- the complete turn to a normal position as it will float in the water, but yet still on the ground near the water.


Nada de gado, unicamente gente a botar abaixo: os que pegam aos cabos das polés das jangadas para lascar o barco e os que, de lombos aos costados, amortecem o peso e o andamento da bisarma.
 Para botar abaixo usam uma escora que serve de alavanca, empurrando a parte média da borda livre do barco, conforme vai sendo accionada por um aparelho de força, que a desloca em direcção ao casco. Para muitos, o botar abaixo constitui espectáculo mais lindo do que o tombar.
Now without the assistance of the oxen, only the carpenters will do this: some of them take the cables of the pulleys to position slowly and carefully the boat to deaden the weight and the movement and rest of them with poles helping in the lateral sides of this little monster- “bisarma” Returning to the right position as other navigable ships, they use a bracket that serves as a lever, pushing the middle part of the free edge of the boat, a force that moves towards the hull. For many people of the river this action is a spectacle more beautiful than the original turn over or throw down.


Já com o barco no chão, procedem à calafetagem e embreagem por dentro, posto o que, o lançam à água de imediato. No lançamento à água era costume enfeitar a proa com festões de papel ou ramos de flores e a popa com ramos de oliveira. Também se usava que o arrais obsequiasse o mestre carpinteiro e os seus auxiliares com uma oferta de vinho, o que constituía uma prova de apreço, em que se comiam as azeitonas e as bolachas que completavam o festão colocado à proa.Now the boat on the ground is brought to the water immediately, with further caulking and clutch applied on the inside. In launching to the river, it was customary to decorate the bow with little flags of paper or branches of flowers and the stern with branches of an olive tree. It is also customary for the “arrais”- the river sailor master, to offer the master carpenter and his assistants, wine, olives, and biscuits which was a sign of appreciation. After completing the “festão”- a big party that takes place at the bow. everybody returns to their work.


0 barco no rio, e continuam as andanças. Estamos agora nas montagens definitivas. Põem-se de novo os escamões - dois e não três a cada lado, porque se trata de uma barquinha rabela e não de um rabelo. Os escamões vão enfisgar por entre as dragas e o casco, e ficam contraventados pelas travessas de dentro e pelas travessas de fora, estas encimadas pelas pèjadeiras. Sobre as pèjadeiras apoiam-se as apègadas, isto é, o próprio estrado onde se manobra a espadela. Entremeado de capas para se firmarem os pés dos pèjadores, estruturam-no o travessão da frente e a cal, esta tendo por baixo a tábua do pão.The boat in the river, and continuing their work. We are now in the final assembly. They put the “escamões”-two and not three to each side, because it is a rabelo female and not a rabelo male….Strange! The escamões will enter between dredges and the hull, and are “contraventados” by sleepers from within and the alleys outside, on the top the “pèjadeiras”. On the pèjadeiras support is the apègadas, that is, the platform where the “espadela” is maneuvered. That platform with steps to climb to the top has places where the river sailors “pèjadores” put their feet.


Por esta altura, deitadas abaixo as árvores convenientes e transportadas para a praia, vão tratar do amanho da espadela - o remo de governo. Compõe-se este de três partes principais: a emenda apontando para a frente as ganchas da mão; a haste que remata atrás no paíl; e o quiço, assentando na mesa que serve de apoio e de base alargada, com o furo para o tornel - o eixo de rotação.At this time, lying beneath the trees and convenient the scutcher “- rowing mechanism. Is now transported to the beach. It consists of three main parts: the amendment pointing to the front  “ganchas” of the hand and the rod that ends behind in the “paíl”; and “quiço”, which mounts on the table that serves as a support and its enlarged base , with the hole for the “tornel” - the axis of rotation.


Ao lado vão formando a vela quadrada, debruada pela relinga. A square sail is now fabricated, hemmed by “relinga”.

Entretanto a verga, que suporta a vela, e o mastro já se encontram prontos e a espadela ocupa o seu lugar sobre a chumaceira. Ao porem à prova a espadela vão determinar o acerto definitivo da altura das apègadas. A obra chegou ao fim. Resta ver a armação do barco.Meanwhile the rod, which supports the sail and mast are made ready and the scutcher is occupying its place on the cradle. When the scutcher is tested, the final adjustment of the height of “apègadas”-the tour will be made. The work comes to an end. The boat is now in its final form.


Para não fugir à frente, puxada pela vela, sujeitam a verga ao mastro com as troças e respectivas polés. A vela, de pano cru, tem um reforço de cercadura -a relinga e é amarrada à verga com os invergues. Os cabos de manobra da vela, incluem as escotas - ou cotas deitadas às dragas; os arrincabens de abrir a vela; e para bracear, presos aos punhos da verga, os braços. Finalmente, o espiadoiro da vela é um pequeno aparelho que iça a vela a meio, de modo a permitir que se mantenha livre a vista para a proa, para poder governar.To prevent the sail from pulling ahead, it is secured by a rod to the mast with the “troças”- that means cables and their “polés” or pulley blocks. The sail, unbleached cloth, is a strengthened in its entire contour-“ relinga” and is tied to the rod with “ invergues”. Ropes of sail hand, including battens of discarded dredges, the “arrincabens” to open the sail, and “bracear”-to horizontal movement to the rods, attached securely to the rod, and the arms. Finally, the  small device that to raise the sail in the middle,-“the espiadoiro” so that it remains free to view the bow, to be able to navigate.


Quando o barco novo se preparava para trilhar a senda do seu destino, o que tinha pela frente era uma vida de trabalho, de canseiras e de perigos... Hoje que os novos meios de transporte acabaram com esta embarcação tradicional, o uso que dela fazem é de cartaz das casas de Vinho do Porto. Amarrados do lado de Gaia, recordam aos turistas uma das mais épicas histórias do rio Douro. Mas durante um dia de festa - o de S.- João - a cidade vive de novo a emoção do grande espectáculo das regatas dos rabelos, uma forma talvez um tanto artificial, mas defensável, de guardar uma das suas memórias mais queridas. The new boat now was preparing to navigate to her new destination, A life of work, fatigues and dangers ... which lies ahead. Today with the new means of transport and highways, ends an era of this traditional craft. Now it is a remnant of history, its use today as advertising of the producers of Port wine. Seen moored to the river side of Gaia, tourists are reminded of the epic stories of the river Douro. But during a day of the feast of St John, the city relives and celebrates the emotion of a great spectacle in the races of the rabelos, perhaps somewhat artificial, but defensible, to save one of its most dear memories.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2007, 02:24:44 AM by oliveira »

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Re: Architecture of Rabelo
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 11:33:11 PM »
A most informative contribution. Definitly gives a life spice to an historic moment. A time when production of these craft were so necessary to the economy of wine production and distribution. WE thank you much for making possible this fine article.  ;D

The following is from an exhibit in the Museu de Marinha preserving the history of the Rabelo. (The photographs were contributed by our member Octávio Oliveira.) You may visit his website here and view an extensive collection of his handcrafted Half Hulls and Ship Models.

Museu de Marinha (Maritime Museum)


The Maritime Museum, one of the most important in Europe, evokes the glory that characterized Portugal's domination of the high seas. Appropriately, it's installed in the west wing of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. These royal galleys re-create an age of opulence that never shied away from excess. Dragons' heads drip with gilt; sea monsters coil with abandon. Assembling a large crew was no problem for kings and queens in those days.


The museum contains hundreds of models of 15th- to 19th-century sailing ships, 20th-century warships, merchant marine vessels, fishing boats, river craft, and pleasure boats.

This exhibit contains original Rabelos, where one may study up close an actual craft. The views of the texture and rough hewen but tight and sturdy hulls of these boats are most interesting. Lets take a sight at part of this exhibit.











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