segunda-feira, 2 de março de 2009


Rubert Simper at the wheel of the Thames barge LORD ROBERTS in the Medway, 1968

Robert Simper was the responsible by “Sail Review” of the SEA BREEZES, the British Magazine of ships and the Sea, which I gave my collaboration in this small work inserted in that magazine.

The CREOULA and ARGUS anchored in river Coina, Tagus estuary, near her owner's plant, 1972

It seems that one of the last stronghold of vessels using sail is finally doomed.
Every April the cod “liner” schooners of Portugal have sailed to the Grand Banks, but for several years this has been increasingly uneconomic and the owners are now converting to pure motor-ships using drift nets.
In March I boarded the 1.195 gross ton motor-ship NEPTUNO at Lisbon and was shown by Capitão João Matias how the five new small boats will be operated from her. Built 1958, the NEPTUNO formerly carried 102 men who fished from dories with outboards; now she will have only 60 men but will still return to Portugal in October with salted cod and cod liver oil for export for Britain.
The Parceria Geral de Pescarias still have the schooners ARGUS and CREOULA which I was able to see their cod-drying plant at Barreiro. The ARGUS will not sail in this year’s campaign but she might go next year. The CREOULA will sail with a total of 68 men of which 54 will be fishermen using dories. O Capitão Marques was at least optimistic about his beautiful 4-masted schooner remaining in operation for a few more years.
From what I could gather in Portugal it seemed that only about three of the auxiliary schooners would sail to the Grand Banks this year, the rest being motor-ships. Mr. Rui Amaro tells me that north port of Oporto once had an important fleet of Grand Bankers, but no longer has any.
The side trawler INVICTA, motor-ships SENHORA DO MAR and VILA DO CONDE were transferred for other ports. As recently as 1956 Portugal still sent 25 schooners to the Grand Banks and many of these were lost there. One of the last of these was the 4-masted, 635 gross ton auxiliary CONDESTAVEL, built at Gafanha, Aveiro, in 1948 and converted to a motor-ship before being lost.
Of the Portuguese coastal traders only five former sailing vessels are still trading as motor-ships. These are the JAIMESILVA, SADINO, VITORIOSO, VIANENSE and CARLOS AUGUSTO which trade between Setubal, Lisbon, Oporto, Leixões and Viana do Castelo carrying cement or salt northbound and returning south with ballast.
Vessels that appear to thriving are the River Tagus fragata. These gaff sloop sailing barges carry freights from Lisbon to wharves further inland. Tiller-steered, they have an open hold and their most noticeable feature in their graceful curved bow. The mast rakes aft and the loose footed mains’l is stowed by letting the peak halliard go until the gaff is against the mast, the lower part of the sails picked up with a brail.
The fragata are expertly handled and in dock everything is stowed neatly. In recent years I have been accustomed to looking at working craft reminded me just how much of the mystic is lost when a craft stops trading.

The CREOULA as motor-vessel anchored in the River Coina, Tagus Estuary, ready for 1972 cod fishing season.

The ARGUS on laid up, anchored in the River Coina, Tagus estuary, in 1972

The NEPTUNO of 1958 anchored in Belem, Tagus estuary, ready for a new cod fishing season /(c) unknown Photographer/

Signed by Robert Simper - SEA BREEZES vol. 46 no. 319 July 1972.

Photos (c) by Robert Simper

Rui Amaro

2 comentários:

fangueiro.antonio disse...

Boas Rui.

Muito interessante ter ido buscar este artigo de 1972 sobre o fim anunciado nos poucos anos que se seguiam, destes imponentes veleiros. O que veio a suceder, já o sabemos e nos últimos dias o "Argus" juntou-se ao trio que afinal sobreviveu.
Que o futuro lhes dê muito vento e muitas missões aos mais variados níveis. Com a boa vontade dos homens e alguma sorte à mistura, sempre necessária, teremos um trio único de escunas no mundo.


Rui Amaro disse...

Olá Robert

It was a pleasure receiving your message after so long time. I am no more subscriber of “SEA BREEZES”, where you still writing the interesting Sail Review and as you can see by my blog NAVIOS À VISTA, meaning Vessels at Sight, I continued passionate of ships. Site SHIPS NOSTALGIA is another space where I post a lot of ships photos.

SANTA MARIA MANUELA, after some years laid up at Aveiro is being converted in her original profile of 4-mast auxiliary schooner and some days ago the cruising schooner POLYNESIA ex ARGUS of Allan Villiers book “The Quest of the Schooner Argus” was bought in auction at St. Maartens, Aruba, and will be towed back to Aveiro to be converted in former ARGUS, which seems being a surprise or miracle for the Portuguese. Both vessels will have several purposes, mainly cruising, by her new owner, the old cod fishing enterprise Messrs Pascoal & Filhos, of Ilhavo, Aveiro. Those schooners, which were part of the “Portuguese White Fleet”, will join to NTM CREOULA affected to Portuguese Navy.

You may visit the under mentioned blogs, where you have enough information about the three ex Grand-Bankers sister schooners (it is a pity to be not in English language but you may use Google translator)
Rui Amaro - Oporto


De: Robert Simper []
Enviada: sexta-feira, 6 de Março de 2009 10:40
Assunto: argus

After 42 years I am still writing the Sail Review feature in the magazine 'Sea Breezes' and a reader has pointed your web site out to me. Good to find you are alive and well and still passionate about ships!
We saw Creolua in Maderia last autumn and she looked very smart. I think she does 'sail training' voyages like our STA. However there is a rumour that 'Portuguese owners have bought the Argus back' Is this true and if so what will she do?
I was told my Antonio Guimarraes Lobato that the Santa Maria Manvela has been put back to a schooner and will start cruising this summer. Has she been returned to a 4 masted schooner?

Robert Simper