National Geographic : 1948 Nov
Stevedores in Loincloths Cast Cargo Overboard, Lash It onto Rafts, and Pole It Ashore This old baggala, flying the Iranian flag, unloads Indian teak in Matrah Bay, Oman. She looks not unlike a caravel; indeed, native skippers told the author that baggalas had been copied from the Portuguese. This example is distinguished from the double-ended boom by the high poop deck overhanging the windowed cabin. She is one of the last of her kind, as the flat stern has proved too vulnerable to following seas. Here an old sail is folded across a yard as a tent. After a long hungry day, we anchored late at night in a tiny cove under Perim. Before dawn we were off again. For the next week our routine was the same: we sailed by day and anchored by night. Nocturnal navigation was too dangerous, for the waters were full of reefs, which we had to avoid by eye. Sheikh Mansur made a lot of water, most of which drained into the rough well abaft the mainmast. Into this foul cavern a man or a boy descended each hour and bailed as if for his life, passing up a kerosene tin or goat's skin to be emptied overboard. Palm matting lashed along above the sides proved a surprisingly effective barrier to the waves. Though the freeboard amidships was not much more than six inches, we shipped little water over the sides. We had just the one big mainsail. In a stiff breeze its area could not be reduced by reefing; we had to lower the lateen yard and then bend another, smaller sail-an enormous amount of labor. When the ship went about, head to wind, the heavy yard had to be shoved from one side of the mast to the other. On anchor ing we lowered the sail to make sure that it did not blow overboard. There was no standing rigging. Each time sail was trimmed, a lot of the rigging had to be taken down and set up again. Our Ancestors Sailed Such Ships Our little vessel was planned and manned much as she might have been in Bible days. She was built entirely by eye, blueprints being unheard of, and the cost did not exceed a few thousand dollars. For years her awkward triangular-type sail was the world's standard equipment. The square sail, so obsolete com pared with a mechanical engine, is, in fact, modern indeed beside the lateen.