ships of Camogli
Text and pictures from the book
"THE SAILING SHIPS OF CAMOGLI" SAGEP Editions, Genoa 1987,
at the care
of Capt. Pro Schiaffino, Director of the Maritime Museum Gio Bono
Ferrari of Camogli.
paintings in the Maritime Museum constitute a detailed reconstruction of
the whole of the sailing history of Camogli, the "City of the Thousand
White Sailing Vessels".
The everyday work of the
Captains and sailors of Camogli created a fleet which has shown how
application, skill and favourable circumstances can obtain well-being
and comfort for an entire community and not just a minority.
shipowners of Camogli took advantage of the high freight costs at the
time of the French campaign in Algieria to strengthen their fleet.
Captains-used their savings and those of their families to become shipowners themselves and many sailors invested part of their pay and
earnings on portage or “Paccotiglia" to buy shares of part ownership or
even eighths of shares in the ships they sailed on. With the profits
they made on these shares they paid for their sons to study to become
sea captains, thereby raising their own status and that of their
neighbourhood. These favourable circumstances were repeated during the
Sometimes the cost of freight for one voyage was enough to pay for the
course it could be a very risky business, but as Cavour said, “those
devils from Camogli were a guarantee of safe passage”. The cause of this
improvement in living conditions is partly to be expIained by the
people's natural leaning to the sea, and also by the geographical
location of the place, the sea being practically an obligatory choice
due to the lack of overIand communications.
settlement cut off from the rest of the world a shake of the hand was
enough to seal a contract. The
family network was a further guarantee. The
shipowner entrusted the ship to his son, his son-in-law, his brother,
and everybody worked together for the success of the voyage.
best part of the profits went into building a house or villa, but this
was always in the town, so that everbody could see and judge. And every
house, and every villa might carry the name of a sailing vessel or a
solidarity is expressed in a regulation of the Mutua Assicurazione
Camogliese (Camogli Mutual Insurance), founded in 1853, the first in
Italy and perhaps in the world ''The Captain commanding the vessel must
be from Camogli"; almost a distinction, a guarantee of professional
standards, skill and success.
Camogli had reached a position of distinction is witnessed by the fact
that a theatre was built a symbol not merely of well-being but also of
culture. This is also demonstrated by a piece of information supplied by
an English book of notices to seamen, dating from the beginning of the
twentieth century: "Camogli can be recognized by night because it is lit
by electricity". In fact, it was the only town on the Riviera to have
the new and expensive ele!ctric lighting.
the pink we have the other types of sailing vessel: the bombard,
evocative of wartime and defence the strong and agile brigs which at one
time almost-completely prevailed over all other types of sailing vessel
in Camogli, seeing that of all the vessels listed h the Camogli Mutual
Insurance in 1853 125 out of 145 were brigs. And lastly the barque the
favourite vessel of Camogli seafarers, capable of good speed with a
following wind or slack winds but also able to make good headway to
evolution of sailing vessels we must also remember the schooner, which
the Camogli sailors called the "barco bestia", a corruption of the
English "best bark", for it was indeed the best bark, simple, fast with
its big fore-and aft sails, able to go to windward, quick to put about,
swift and nervous as a foal.
vessel, we might say, was the type that put up the longest fight against
the irresistible advance of the steamships.
paintings are by various artists, some of whom are famous, such as
Nicolas Camilleri, Domenico Gavarone, Angelo Arpe and Vincenzo Liuzzo.
It is remarkable how in
nearly all the paintings there is an extremely precise depiction of both
standing and running rigging. Even the tackle belaying pins and tacks
show a degree of detail suggesting such a knowledge of the subject that
one is forced to conclude that the artist was a sailor first and then a
dates and characteristics of the sailing vessels have been obtained
through researches, especially in the registers of the Registro Italiano
Navale for the years 1865, 1879 and 1890, which are in the Museum. For the
year 1865 there are 1.274 vessels recorded, which is clearly only a part
of those that existed.
The Mutual Insurance companies
fixed the value of vessels using their own surveyors. The only dimensions
supplied are the register tonnage, that is the tonnage calculated from
the product of the three principal dimensions, deck length, maximum
internal width between the second deck planking and the depth from the
floor-plate hook to the underneath of the upper deck planking minus the
thickness of the floor ceiling divided by 3.80 (Article 18 of the
Regulations for the Construction and Classification of wooden Vessels)
and finally the draught expressed in French feet,
equivalent to 32.5 cm.
degree of a vessel's seaworthiness is expressed in decimal fractions.
1.00 is the unit ascribed to vessels meriting 100% seaworthiness. The
fractions 0.85, 0.75, 0.65 and 0.50 are used to express the
seaworthiness of vessels which fall between the maximum degree and that
off mediocrity. Other
information has been collected from the Museum's Lloyd Registers for the
years 1902 and 1909.
bought second-hand in Great Britain were almost always registered at
Lloyd's, but several Liguria built vessels were also by Lloyd's registered.
numbers of the insurance pennants and the insured values were obtained
from the various lists of sailing vessels belonging to the Mutua
Assicurazione Marittima Camogliese for the years 1853, 1862, 1880 and
1881, and to the Mutua Cristoforo Colombo for 1907. All these records
are held in the Museum. It is interesting to note the depreciation in
the value of vessels between 1853, 1862 and 1880.
Research into the sailing vessels, especially those of the early
nineteenth century, was extremely difficult. This was also due the
numerous vessels, Captains and owners with the same names.
This work is only
dedicated to supply information and documentations without any
commercial purpose. We do not sell neither we can give permission to
copy images, texts, pictures, postcards, duplications of the site
content, that remains property of the respective owners also when not
book is dedicated to the shipowners, captains and sailors of the
glorious period of sailing history.
Director of the Maritime Museum Gio Bono
Ferrari of Camogli