lunedì 13 settembre 2010

At sea!

September 13th, 2010.

A boat sliding into the sea is the feeling of a triumph, and the pain of a separation.

The launch is the accomplishment of an idea, turned into a project, that through time, work, disappointments and satisfaction becomes a boat, going at sea.

From this point on, the gozzo "Santa Maria del Lauro"'s history is not drawn anymore on a project from 1919.

Ahead of her bow is the Sea, adventures, perils, the future.

But, that's another story.

The rigging

One of the most fascinating things in a sailing boat is, until sails are unfurled, the apparently tangling amount of lines and ropes, each of them with a defined duty, perfectly symmetric around the mast.
Position and length of standing or running rigging must be accurately studied and tested to balance safety, performances, manoeuvrability and hundreds more factors that can only be tested under sailing.
Fulvio Cafiero and his friends of the "Circolo Nautico Marina di Alimuri", that will train the crew of the lateen rigged gozzo “Santa Maria del Lauro”, assist Michele Cafiero in the rigging work. The splices, simple joints of ropes of unparalleled elegance, are winded, the mast is erected in the highest point of the cave, the bowsprit is connected to the prow.
When this task will be accomplished, the boat will be ready for the launch, at last.

mercoledì 8 settembre 2010

The Yacht Club "Marina di Alimuri"

Back in 1983, sailing was a distant memory at Marina di Alimuri.
Wooden oars boats and “sandolini", traditional canoes, were slowly giving place to fiberglass ones, the last, ignored “Cap Horniers” met by the sea overlooking the sunset, telling each other memories that would never share with anyone else.
But meanwhile, an engineer collected relics from the golden age of local sailorship, Italy learned of America’s Cup while United States lost it, and a regional tv’s documentary rediscovered the history of the tall ships built at Marina di Alimuri.
In that year, and in that climate, a group of young men, aided by the occasional advises of old seamen, gathered their sailing boats and founded a yacht club, right on the beach where once the tall ships masts were raised.
It was the start of an era: tiny wooden dinghies, to that point considered ready for the fireplace, were proudly restored and painted, old “gozzi” owners found masts and yards for lateen sail in their attics, and young boys showed up asking to be taught “how to sail”.
A few years later, almost as a joke, the club, now affiliated to the F.I.V., summoned five or six of the oldest boats, some with improvised sails, and set up an almost windless “regatta” of “historical boats”. Since the trophy they ran for was a painting in the style of an illustrious local XIXth century marine painter, the race was dedicated to his name. It was the “Ist Eduardo de Martino Trophy”, that in 2010 will reach the twenty-second edition, and has become one of the most crowded and well known classic sailing boat races of Italy, and it’s the only sailing event in Sorrentine waters.
Fulvio Cafiero, founder, president and soul of the “Circolo Nautico Marina di Alimuri”, that in time relocated to the nearby Marina di Meta, will select and train the lateen sail gozzo “Santa Maria del Lauro”’s crew. Together with the associates of the club, he will help Michele to rig and man a lateen sail boat, at the Marina di Alimuri.

lunedì 6 settembre 2010

The Rudder

"Boat with no rudder, can hold no course", old sea men said to explain the need for authority.
And the rudder is indeed the one element in a boat that could nullify any of her good features, or favourable conditions if unproperly made or handled.
Either under sails or oars, a well designed rudder can provide the boat with the right compromise of manouvrability and directional stability.
Michele Cafiero has chosen two different shapes for his lateen sail gozzo's rudder, and so he makes two different ones, the first wide and deep, the other shorter, for different settings. A large surface, and a deep draught of the rudder's blade, assures a quick response in the tacks, at the cost of a heavier weight and loss of speed, a light and shorter blade makes the boat harder to handle, but faster.
But, as reminded by the old seamen's saying, even more than the rudder shape, the boat's behavior is decided by the helmsman's ability. So after cutting and painting the rudder, and before rigging the "Santa Maria del Lauro", it is time to find and train a crew.

venerdì 30 luglio 2010

Giovanni Caputo

"To rig" a boat, that is to say to provide her with sails and rigs, is a difficult and delicate task. Small variations, insignificant to an uninitiated's eyes, can set great differences in terms of performances, reliability or safety. The position of the mast, length and angle of attach of the "standing rigging", holding the mast steady, and of the "running rigging", maneuvering the sails, are the product of centuries old, mostly empiric experiences, that once were passed from father to son, and now are kept by the "rigger", the man who "tunes up" the boat. The English word is the most used nowadays, because the job of "attrezzatore", though very much sought-after in the sailing world, has almost disappeared in Italy.
But Giovanni Caputo, a man who made a job of his passion, and an art of his job, is one of the very last classic boats "attrezzatori", specialised in lateen rigs. One day he came to visit the Cafiero's boatyard, to meet for the first time the gozzo "Santa Maria del Lauro", bringing in a pocket a surprise gift to Mast'Antonio, Michele and the boat: one of his blocks in wood and copper, custom made according to the size and shape required by every rigging need. And during an extraordinary encounter of surviving skills and experiences, a cooperation is born between the carpenters and the rigger, who will donate to the lateen sailed gozzo "Santa Maria del Lauro" all the blocks she will need to be rigged with a lateen sail.

mercoledì 21 luglio 2010

The mast and the yardarm

The lateen sail rig has been typical in the Mediterranean until a few decades ago.
In spite of what has been mantained for a long time, its origin is undoubtedly Mediterranean, and the "reversed" etimology from "vela alla trina" is now known to be wrong: depictions of lateen rigged ships dating back to the I century BCE have been found in Antony and Cleopatra's Alexandria. Its diffusion and improvement in the Arab world and into Indian Ocean saw it described at the "latine" sail, that is to say the sail of the former roman Mare Nostrum peoples.
But the fishing gozzi of the Bay of Naples used the lateen sail only in special conditions. It was high, heavy and cumbersome during the rowing. The most used sail was a fore and aft sail, the sprit sail, a tiny, less proficient one, but very easy to maneuver and taking little room when folded.
And right like the original gozzo, the new "Santa Maria del Lauro" will sport both riggings.
Michele has chosen to have a very long and flexible yardarm, in white pine wood, and a tall mast, still in pine wood, to take more wind.
From two square planks, they saw corners off, then taper both ends, and then, by plane and sandpaper work, corners are refined until the shape is almost circular.
They will define the shape of the sail, and the speed of the boat.

venerdì 16 aprile 2010

The mast-step

It is easy to imagine how a sail can move a boat: the wind blows on its surface, and since the sail is tied to the mast, that is connected to the boat, the boat goes. But to convey the wind energy to the boat's hull, and to do it in a proficient manner, is a serious problem to face, to avoid that mast and sail fly away while the boat stay still.
So the mast cannot be a simple pole, but a whole system due to resist strains while absorbing shocks potentially harmful to the hull. The first element of this system that Michele Cafiero assembles on his gozzo "S. Maria del Lauro" is the mast step.
It is a wooden pedestal that is tightly connected to the hull, with a hole where the bottom of the mast will fit in, after passing through another hole in the mast-hole, a plank placed at deck height. The position of the mast-step, that is to say the position of the mast, will affect the manoeuvrability of the boat, her trim during different reaches, and the centre of maneuver itself.
The lateen sail was seldom used by Alimuri fishermen: the Bay of Naples' winds are whimsical and changing, but who knew how to exploit them had a remarkable aid to the hardships of rowing. To save room, the mast was close to the bow, even if this arrangement made the boat quite unbalanced and hard to be kept in course, under sailing. With a concession to evolution, the lateen sail mast of Mast'Antonio's and Michele Cafiero's gozzo will stand in a more central position than the original 1919 boat.

Bookmark and Share