Directions for the Bar of Figueira in Portugal

Directions for the Bar of Figueira in Portugal

N.p. n.d. (ca. 1807). Broadside (approx. 12½" x 7½"), with signature "Balthor Whitney & Co." in manuscript at the bottom; previous folds, else fine. This is a broadside of about 400 words giving instructions for entering the port at Mondego River, midway down Portugal's western coast. The first part of the Directions - "Cape Mondego" - direct the mariner to Cape Mondego, the headland by which the port may be recognized. "On the South side of the Cape, at the bottom of the Bay, lies Buarcos, a small Fishing Town, from which boats go off to Vessels that require a Pilot." The Directions then discuss tides, water depths, and proper approach, warning ships seeking a pilot "to steer by the Signals from the Castle and Pilot Boats within Side of the Breakers." Figuera is situated on that part of the Portugal coast known for its massive waves. Just 20 miles south is the famed Nazare Beach where surfers come from the world over to ride 100-foot waves. Little wonder that in the early 19th century there were very specific directions for attaining the port at Figuera. The second half of these Directions - "Explanation of Signals" - concern the signalling process. "When the sea is high and no Boat can go off to put a Pilot on board, it is customary to call vessels to the Bar, by hoisting a Flag, or Colours at the Castle; but if the Colours are afterwards lowered it shows the Tide is not sufficiently made...If a gun is fired without the Colours hoisted; it is a Signal for Vessels to make more sail in order to save the Tide." Further signals from the castle "which are made by a Pole with a small Flag attached to it" instruct ships on how to approach the bar while waiting for a pilot. The document is signed in manuscript, "Balthor Whitney & Co.," presumably an English mercantile firm. The othography - ie., "colours" strongly suggests a British origin for these Directions, and the watermark "F/1807" helps confirm this since during that period England was allied with Portugal in the Napoleonic wars. Unrecorded and certainly very rare. Item #59004

Price: $600.00

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