National Geographic : 1954 Nov
trousers rolled up well over the knees. The tide was making. The men waited until the sea washed around the bow and lifted it. "Now! Now! All together! Let's get her afloat!" roars a giant of a man who is master of the nets. "Now! Now! All together!" shout the 40 men, and the oxen strain at their yokes, toss ing their soft nostrils free of the surf and spray and stamping into the soft sand until they sink in it above the fetlocks and the surf laps at their massive shoulders. The boat lurches and rumbles. A mate in the bow shouts to a gang of women ashore holding a stout line, telling them to keep the bow facing seaward, so the vessel will not broach to. The 40 men shove with all their might, and small boys run to push fresh roll ers in place beneath the hull again as the surf recedes. The big boat has moved a good 15 feet, but still the wide stern is well aground, and she is far from afloat. Another wave rolls in, and another. Farther out the breaking crest of one larger than the rest shows a good chance. "Now! Again, my sons! All together!" shouts the master. One More Pull-She Floats! Again the animals strain and their owners shout encouragement to them, and the men push with rhythm and strength, up to their thighs in the boiling sea, spray in their faces, and the warm sun beating down. Ah, now she comes! From my vantage point on the little deck below the high prow I feel the whole boat afloat. A big sea, run ning in to break on the beach, hits the heavy cutwater and bursts into flying spume. "Let go the line!" shouts the mate to the women ashore. "Let go!" They drop the line, and the oxen are un hooked from the ringbolts. The men make a wild rush at the boat; laughing and splash ing, they leap over the high wooden sides, each making at once for his place on the giant sweeps, standing perched on a thwart rather perilously above the big hold full of nets and rope. "Heartily! Pull heartily! Backs into it!" shouts the master, for a receding sea can still leave the big boat aground, and there is al ways the danger she might swing around and pitch them out. In bad weather such a mishap could end in drownings. In any weather it is a muffed launching and bad for boat and gear. But now 40 strong backs strain with a will at the Moledo Vianado Castel Ofir PdvoadeVarzim Matosinho Vila Novade Ga SCabo 101 rt ila Real sovicente ho de Santo SaoVicente i Antonio Ponta desae uAl, de Antnio Maria 0 25 50 75 100 STATUTE MILES Cabo .... cape; Ponta.... point; Is.....island © National Geographic Map Area Bay of 677 Sea and Spain Border Sunny Portugal Fishing furnishes a livelihood for 40,000 Portuguese men. From Moledo to Vila Real de Santo Ant6nio the author watched the beach fishermen at work and went with them to sea in their colorful craft.