THE BASQUE WHALING BOAT04/5/2020
✅ THE ACTIVITY
Whaling boats - or scoops - feature on the coats-of-arms of the towns of Basque Country like Hondarribia, Guipuzcoa, Bermeo and Biarritz, dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, some indication of how long the history of Basque whaling stretches back. The Basques used harpoons, requiring them to get within a few metres of the whales – evidence not only of the bravery and skill of the crew, but also of the speed and manoeuvrability of the vessel.
✅ THE DISCOVERY
Some basque whaling boats from the sixteenth century were recovered at Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador by archaeologists from Parcs Canada, in underwater excavations of the San Juan whaleship, sunk in 1565. This is the oldest whaling boat known and is in the Basque whaling museum at the Red Bay National Historic Site.
➡️ More about the investigation process: http://www.albaola.com/en/site/investigation-process
✅ THE CHARACTERISTICS
Thanks to the sixteenth-century basque whaling boats discovered in Red Bay, we now have detailed information on the vessels that played a central role in one of the most heroic episodes in basque maritime history.
These txalupas were multi-purpose vessels, and were also used for fishing. She is eight metres in length and two in the beam. She is built primarily of oak, and the most striking feature of her design is that it combines the two systems: clinker-built above the waterline and carvelled below it. She sported a fore mast and main mast, and had a crew of six oarsmen (included the harpooner) and a captain.
By the sixteenth century, the basque whaling boat had already reached a very high degree of design sophistication. In later centuries it was adopted by other seafaring cultures, who maintained and adapted the principal features. Once such example was the New Bedford whaling boat, made famous throughout the world by Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. The American boat was in turn adapted locally in the Azores for hunting whales, and continued to be used into the twentieth century. It is still used as a racing vessel.
✅ LA CHALUPA BALLENERA BUILT BY ALBAOLA
"Beothuk" is a replica of the Red Bay whaling boat, built by the Albaola Association at the Ontziola Traditional Vessel Research and Construction Centre located in this time at Pasai San Juan (now Albaola Itsas Kultur Faktoria). This vessel, made to plans provided by Parcs Canada, was put to the test in an experimental archaeological voyage off the coast of Newfoundland in 2006; she travelled over 2,000 kilometres. We will writte about this aventure in a next post.
Ilustración "La chalupa vasca" vía El Trotamanteles
Ilustración sin título National Geographic Julio 2018 & Albaola Itsas Kultur Faktoria by Fernando Baptista
✅To read more all the information in the book "BERTAN 23: Our Boats". Texts by Xabier Agote and edition of Gipuzkoako Foru Aldundia - Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa