Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Last Sailors - 1

This is the first post from my new computer. I had to give up my nice Dell Latitude yesterday because my employment with McGraw-Hill runs out at the end of the month, so I bought a new Dell Vostro as the basis of my new freelance editing, writing, publishing consulting & public relations business. So far, I like it. It's not as sleek as the Latitude -- physically a bit clunky -- but a real bargain price for a powerful machine, backed by Dell. I'm still getting used to Vista (had been using XP until now), but it doesn't seem that a big adjustment is needed.

On to the real important stuff: I've been reading The Last Sailors: The Final Days of Working Sail, by Neil Hollander, with photos by Harald Mertes. Very nicely written and photographed essays on the men who made their living in sail on boats all around the world. The authors sought out and spent time with sailors of eight types of craft, most of which were clearly outside the Western tradition (I've italicised those that are): Windward Islands schooner; Brazillian jangada; Chilean lancha chilota, Egyptian aiyassa, Sri Lankan oruwa, Bangladeshi shampan, Chinese junk, and Indonesian pinisi.

When it was published in 1984, and the authors warned that most of these craft were on the verge of commercial extinction. I suspect they were too pessimistic. Here we are 24 years later, and I'm under the impression that Chinese junks and Egyptian aiyassas still work for a living; it would be nice to know about them and the others. It would be nice if some readers would let us know what they know about this, and about other working sail around the world.

Next post, I'll discuss the jangada, the very nice photo of which I've borrowed from Wikipedia, courtesy of the photographer, Allan Patrick.

1 comment:

  1. Bob - what a lovely boat the jangada is! There are a couple in museums here in the UK, so I have mentioned them on my blog, and also linked to indigenousboats. There may be some entries there of interest to you, though mostly European, such as the boats of Venice, the German stocherkahn and the Adriatic batana.