The Carlos Barral
I first started planning cruises on the Catalan coast, rather than
studying a pilot book, I looked to the Catalan nautical writers who,
though writing sometime in the past, used language that I could
readily absorb. Two writers stood out—Josep Pla and Carlos Barral.
Both sailed extensively on this coast from the '40's to the '70's and
as I lapped up their prose I began to feel an almost personal
attachment to them. While Pla was paused, detailed, literary and
enjoyable purely for his masterly use of the Catalan language, Barral
described sailing and the coast with larger, more spontaneous brush
strokes and his vivid colours reflected his passionate nautical
died in 1981, his boat 'Mestral' long lost to scrap. Barral died in
'89, and his boat 'Capitan Arguello' ended up in Tarragona's 'Museu
del Port.' Barral was from Calafell, just round the next headland
from OB's beach, and the dedicated souls of the association 'Pati
Catala Calafell, Mar Mitic, Mar Ludic' have striven to return
Barral's boat to its home beach in Calafell. But for all the
negotiations Tarragona Museum hold tightly
to the treasured Capitan Arguello. So the association studied the
possibility of building a replica but that plan unsurprisingly was
beyond their budget. They did the next best thing, found and restored
a deteriorating llaut
which, though of smaller dimensions, they painted in Capitan
black and orange colours and named La Carlos Barral.
I went along for the launch ceremony and arrived in time to see the boat chugging out of the port, running parallel to the beach to the place on the sand where the ceremony was to be held. Conducted by Vicente Garcia-Delgado, author of the definitive book on the lateen sailing rig—Nuestra Vela Latina—and historical expert of Mediterranean sail the ceremony recreated the pagan rites that mariners hoped would appease the fates. With fitting pomp and deliberation Vicente burnt a potful of olive branches under the prow, dressed the stem head with a lamb's fleece and bade the 'patron' soak it with wine, then he doused the boat in sea water followed by coarse-grained salt. Finally, moving into christian territory, the boat builder responsible for the restoration nailed a gold coin to the mastfoot to pay St Peter for entry into heaven should the boat founder. Then a virgin climbed aboard with a cross to be placed inside the boat at the bows. With the fates and deities suitably catered for the La Carlos Barral could begin her career.
Dawrfed by the local dark-suited bigwigs attending the occasion was the pettite guest of honor Yvonne Barral, Carlos Barral's widow, accompanied by her children and grandchildren. While she waited for the local radio station to sort out its signal I introduced myself and explained the role her late husband had played in my personal sailing story. As occasionally happens when I talk about Onawind Blue ears pricked to the simple tale of a small boat on the sea, but now I was more than flattered that this elegant lady who had sailed many miles with her husband might be interested in my adventures. Emboldened I pulled my book from my rucksack and showed it to her. As she flicked approvingly through the pages I felt that quite unexpectedly I made a significant connection with part of Catalonia's literary and maritime heritage.
Hi Ben, just finished reading The Invisible Workshop from the initial build entries up to the present posts, just wanted to thank you for taking us along on all your journeys! Great inspiration to get my pram sailing dinghy finished! Cheers Alistair
Thank you Alistair, that's exactly the sort of comment that makes my day. All the best for the rest of your pram build.
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