Wednesday 29 June 2011

Lateen sailing festival Cambrils

OB and Santa Espina
Photo by Josep-Anton Trepat

When I rang the organisers of the V Trobada de Vela Llatina de Cambrils—worrying as I occasionally do that I’ll be told that home made, ply and epoxy boats, have no place among the majestic remnants of Mediterranean maritime history—I was received with genuine enthusiasm and welcomed to take part.

Photo by Montse Granollers

Feeling rather honoured I felt I’d better prove my worth by sailing to Cambrils but no sooner was the thought out than the weather changed. 20 miles with the wind bang on the nose would have taken more time than I had and, I’ll admit, would have been more hard work than I felt like. Still feeling rather nesh I put OB on the trailer and pootled down early on Saturday morning.

Photo by Montse Granollers

All the boats were moored at the fish dock and I rafted alongside a pretty lateen craft and was warmly greeted. Actually warmth and generosity marked the whole event. I bumped into a lot of old friends and met many new ones who were familiar with Onawind Blue from her TV appearance. I was touched to receive a round of applause as I collected a goody bag at the end of the first skipper’s meeting.

23 boats took part from as far apart as Sète in France in the north to the Albufera of Valencia in the south. We had a marvellous morning sail in a friendly 8 knot onshore breeze, a group picnic with the boats rafted together, long chats over coffee and then an evening sail for those that wanted.

Photo by Montse Granollers

The few boats that sailed out formed the backdrop to a demonstration of traditional fishing techniques. Fishermen, sailors, villagers and tourists set nets from the beach with the help of llagut rowing boats. I watched from the sea and didn’t catch much except the mellow changing light.

L'Esperance from Sete

After the French Atlantic I found the event beautifully Mediterranean, I swear we squeezed 70 minutes out of every hour. We didn’t sit down to our evening meal until 23.45 and wound up much later. ‘There’s always time for everything,’ a friend of mine often says, ‘except a good night’s sleep.’ And just 6 hours after hitting the sack I found myself standing in the queue for a breakfast of barbequed sardines and red wine of the sort that gives a zing to your morning, as long as you don’t stop and rest as then you simply fall asleep.

With sardine fingers we rowed across Cambrils harbour to visit La Teresa, a fishing boat from the ‘30’s being restored under the eye of the son of the original builder. And then Gerard Martí, director of the local history museum and one of the event organisers gave us a moving account of the fierce storm of 1911 in which 80 Catalan fishermen were lost, many near Cambrils.

Lola, built in 1906, the oldest boat in the fleet.

Each boat was presented with a flower and followed Lola out to the point where the fishing boats foundered 100 years ago for a memorial ceremony. There was no wind and I was rowing so the ceremony took place before OB arrived.

My friend Jaume Amengual was aboard rowing with me. Jaume was taken out of school at 12 to join his father’s fishing boat and he fished for 20 years before setting up his own nautical company. Together, a little to the north of the actual spot, we had our own little ceremony in which I threw the flower overboard and then tipped beer over the side before both drinking to those lost and each saying a few words. It made an emotive end to a great weekend.

For more photos visit El Mar és el Camí, Artesà Nàutic and El Mar de Amics

'Alba' from the Albufera region of Valencia
Santa Espinsa

Sa Xicote

Above photos by Montse Granollers


Bursledon Blogger said...

OWB looks right at home with those traditional boat.

I've been interested in Med boats for a long time and have noticed an emergence of interest in them during our visits to Barcelona and Sete area. What's been nice is through blogging I've been in contact with owners of these boats which has increased my understanding - for example I now know the difference between a Lute and a Bot

Ben said...

Nomenclature is confusing, as names can be applied according to the use of a boat or to its construction. As I understand it so far a 'bot' is a small boat, usually too short to be double ended, often used as an auxillary to a larger craft. It is generally a rowing boat though some have had sails added.
The double ended 'llagut català' that I row with the local team is referred to by the fishermen as 'el bot'.
I usually hear the word used slightly affectionately, for a large range of small craft, as we might use 'tub' in English.

Geoff_D said...

So good to see from your blogging that you appear to be well on the way to recovery.