Culé and Chata


A culé is a cargo boat once used to carry salt, fruit, and other items to supply the city of Lisbon (Portugal), which sits on the wide estuary of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River). It was in use until the beginning of the twentieth century.

It is also known as a "Barco de água Acima", which roughly translates to "boat of the upper river".  Having a wide, flat bottom and a long, shallow rudder, the boat could navigate the shallow waters of canals and the upper reaches of the Tejo.

A chata is a small flat-bottom open boat used, in this case, as a tender to the culé.

The plans were obtained at the Museu de Marinha in Lisbon where our cruise ship made an all-too-brief stop. The museum is incredible, and highly recommended.

The Culé

This is a drawing of a culé, the model of which is underway.  Later sections detail the chata (its tender) and construction details for both vessels.



The Chata

A chata is a small flat-bottomed boat of Portugal. The named is derived from the word chato, which means flat. The boat is so named for its flat bottom, which made it popular for pulling onshore (life guard duty) and as a tender for larger shallow-draft boats (such as the Culé).

The pictures below show the model nearly completed. A little paint touch-up, some thole pins, a pair of oars, and perhaps a fender for the bow, will make it complete. A Portuguese 5-cent Euro coin provides scale.

Image Image

Construction of the Culé

The building board

There were two particular challenges to overcome with this boat:

  1. The heavy sheer plus the depth of the stem and stern pieces
  2. Absence of a keel

The bottom is not flat enough to easily build it right-side up.  Due to the high amount of sheer and the extended stem and stern pieces, building it upside down on a flat board would make it less stable and result in a lot of wasted material.  So I created a wedding-cake style  (layered) building board.


I first layed out the frame locations, centerline, and buttock lines on the bottom layer.  I then glued two thicknesses of 3/4" plywood together for the second layer, squared up their edges, and screwed the assembly to the bottom layer from underneath.  By not using glue, the upper boards can be removed and a cradle attached to the bottom board when the planking is done and the model turned right-side up.  The marks on the base board were then transfered to this second layer.  The second layer was removed from the bottom and a third glued to its upper surface.  The assembly was then reattached to the bottom layer and the frame and centerline marks tranferred to the top-most layer.  A great deal of care was taken transfering the lines to make sure everything stayed square.

Each frame consists of two side-timbers (port and starboard) and a floor timber that connects them. I was not confident in the frame templates I created, and so resolved to do final shaping on the building board, remove the side fames, cut away the inside shape, and then attach the floors.

Because there is no keel, some temporary structure is needed to keep the frames in alignment during fairing and planking. Where the boat is wide enough, two parallel pieces of plywood were cut to the shape of the profile and notched to accept the floors.  The outside edges of the plywood are aligned with a buttock line to form a "fence" related to a known position on the drawing.   The spacing provides lateral stability to the floor pieces and minimizes the size of the wood required for the side frames.  The inside edge of the frame templates are cut to these locations.

Along the length of the jig there are pieces of wood to fill in the space between frames.  The frame were friction fit between the spacers.  With humidity changes it was sometimes necessary to do a little sanding or add paper shims.  Any frames that were unnacceptable could be easily removed and replaced.

At the ends, the stem and stern portions of the building jig were cut to the rabbet line. Unlike the center portion, they were not glued to the board.  This is so they could be removed once the hull was faired, at which point they were replaced with the stem and stern pieces.



Poplar was chosen for the frame material. Since the boat will be completely painted, a more a attractive wood is not necessary. Poplar is always an economical choice, and in this case it has the added interest of having been harvested by HRSMS members from a tree felled by hurricane Isabel.

The side frames are fairly straight at the sides and turn inward for only a short distance at the bottom, basically forming a knee. There is little value in building up frames to keep the grain running along the frame, as is normally recommended.  The short portion at the bottom is across the grain and weak. But these are completely lapped by the floor timbers, which provide all the necessary strength, once assembled.

This image shows how the wood was cut to fit against the floor and walls of the jig, with the grain of the wood running in the general direction of the side frames.


The next image illustrates how the layered building board discussed in the previous section saves material.  Making the grain parallel to the side frame means that as the length of the blank increases, so does the necessary width.  The layered board reduced the necessary material width for most frames to a point they were compatible with the poplar boards I had on hand, which were roughly 12" wide and 1" thick.  I simply needed to rip strips off that were equal to the frame thickness (with allowance for sanding, of course).  For the remaining frames I had to cut off a 1-1/2" section from the board and then rip that to the frame thickness.  At least that extra effort and waste were minimized.  I could have avoided this by creating more variations in the width of the building jig (between the centerline and first buttock, and between the 1st and 2nd buttocks), but this likely have been even more work.


The first photo below shows all of the side frame blanks in place on the starboard side, with the fairing process just begun. 

Before cutting away the inside, I inserted all of the floors into the slots in the jig frame, as shown in the second photo.  I checked for high and low spots in the profile, and sanded away or shimmed up the slots to get the floors in the correct position.  Where the side frames were too short, I had to add shims to the bottom of the frame.  If the model were not being painted, such frames would have been removed and redone.  As it is, I think these patches will be invisible.

To mark the side frames for cutting, I made two "measuring sticks" with tabs equal to the frame thickness at the sheer line and near the floor.  I then used the template for the outer shape to mark a curve on the inside.  This is shown in the third image.  The tacks did not stay in the cardboard well, and in the end I just made one mark at a time by hand, and held the templates to the marks while drawing the curve.  Perhaps this is too simplistic to warrant an explanation, but it is quite easy to mark the wider side.  On the narrower side the bevel of the side frame gets in the way (as shown in the fourth image), and it is necessary to turn the measuring stick on its edge and hold it in the correct position.  By tilting it ever so slightly you can catch the edge without much affecting the measurement.

Image Image Image Marking the side frame width

With the inside shape cut, the floors could be attached.  Installing these took some special care.

With the inside of the frames cut away, they were easily bent inward.  Any accidental lateral pressure while clamping on the floors could have moved the bottom of the side frames toward the centerline.  Some of them bent inward on their own, simply from stresses in the wood being relieved after cutting and shaping.  To make sure the original shape was held true, I left most of the frame blanks intact and used them to hold a fairing strip in place.  When clamping on the floors, I made sure that the side frames were in contact with the fairing strip.  This is illustrated in the first picture.  I then repeated the proceedure for the remaining frames, one at a time, progressing forward and aft from midship.  The second image shows the midship frames being placed back in the jig after removing the assembly to insert trunnels.  You can see that the inside of the blanks were left intact so that they could be pressed up against the frame of the jig, easily positioning the side frames in the same place they were before being removed.  The remaining images are of a forward frame being assembled.  I did the final shaping of the outside after placing it back in the jig, using the other frames to fair it in.

Note: You can see rubber bands holding the fairing strips in place, the ends looped around thumb tacks pressed into the frame.  I stubbornly stuck with this approach dispite the fact that the tension frequently pulled the frames up (violently, on occasion) when the friction fit between the spacers was insufficient to hold them in place.  I did need to keep the bands snug against the frames, but perhaps a bent nail in the base, near the edge of each frame, would have worked better.

Image Image Image Image Image Image Image


The taper in the wale was created with the aid of a special sanding jig.  At this stage, I glued the frames to the board so that there could be no movement while installing the wales.  From this point on it would be difficult to replace a frame, if necessary.

Image Image

The wales stiffened the structure up considerably, and with planks installed along the centerline the frames were really locked in tight.  Next came the bottom row of planks.  I only shaped the top edges and left them overhanging the bottom.  Then I sanded the bottom flush with the floors.  After that the remaining bottom planks were installed.  These were left overhanging the side, as the midship construction drawing in the plans shows the bottom planks extending past the sides.   After all were in place, I shaped the outboard edges of the bottom planks, tapering the amount of overhang toward the bow and stern.  Lastly I installed trunnels.  A book I have on a different class of ship from the same region and era, and sharing at least some characteristics, indicates the planks would have been nailed.  However, as the model will be painted, the ends of the trunnels can pass for nail heads, should the paint be fine enough to show any texture left after sanding.  The trunnels are the appropriate diameter for nail heads. 

Image Image Image

It was finally cut away from the building jig after completing all the work below the wale.  The wales will curve sharply and lap to the stem and stern pieces, and two more rows of planking will be placed above the wales.  The pictures below show the current state of the model.

Image Image Image

Construction of the Chata

Building board

The second step was to layout the frame locations on a building board. A centerline was drawn parallel to one side of the building board so that the tee-square (depth gage) could be used to draw lines across the board at each frame location, using a copy of the plan as a guide.



Roughing Out

The first step was to make templates for each individual frame. The templates represent one half of the frame, port and starboard. A centerline was drawn on blanks of 0.05" (1.25mm) thick cherry wood using a depth gage as a small tee-square. The template shape was drawn in mirror image about the centerline to give the full shape. Given the small size of the drawings I was not confident in the accuracy of the templates, so I cut well outside the line. The image below shows this process after the outside shape was cut away.


Fairing the outside

Because the boat is carvel planked, the frames must (or generally do) come first. But since there is no keel, something must provide temporary support to hold the frames in position. On a real boat (or a model at a larger scale) templates or bracing might be used. But this is not feasible at this size. Instead, solid spacers were inserted between the frames. This also offers maximum support while shaping the delicate pieces.

The frames were only rough-cut in the first step. To arrive at the final shape they must be assembled together on the building board and faired. Not until the outside shape is determined can the inside shape be drawn and cut away. So it must be possible to remove the frames from the board, cut away the inside shape, and return them to the same position. To ensure the frames cannot move about, and to allow them to be removed, cut, and replaced in the exact same position, the frames were attached to the spacers using small pegs, sanded flush with the surface of the frame. Each frame and spacer combination is secured to the building board using small screws to form a many-layered sandwich. The stem and stern pieces were then added (being necessary to properly fair the frames).

Image Image

Inside Shape and Floors

Once the outside shape was faired, the inside of the blank could be cut away to create two separate frames for the port and starboard sides, still temporarily attached at the bottom (when viewed upside down) for rigidity. The two sides are connected by a floor piece, which was added at this time. You can see a notch cut away in the spacers to allow room for reassembly. Note how the wooden pins allow the assembly to be returned to the original location of the solid blank.

Image Image

Hull Planking

Here you can see the planking underway and the hull cut away from the extra material connecting the port and starboard frames. My hand and a Portuguese 5-cent Euro coin provide scale. The planks are 0.02" (.5mm) holly.

Note the poor shape along the starboard quarter sheer line. To fix it, a thin strip of wood was glued to the outside and faired into the hull. This results in the plank being excessive wide in middle of the repaired region (shown best in the last photo), but this will be decked-over, hiding the imperfection.

Image Image Image Image Image


The inside was painted, with masking tape over areas where the decking, thwarts, and inwale need to be glued. These object were then fitted. The margin deck planks (against the hull) were very difficult to fit, and the pieces very fragile. The little tab on the forward end of the port plank broke off. Unwilling to start over, I glued in back on, hoping the seam would be invisible. It was not!   Note how the deck hides the ill effects of the repair mentioned in the previous section.

Image Image Image


I take sloppy hand-written notes, and lose 50% of everything I put on paper. So one purpose of this page is to organize my data on this project in a more structured way - and one that I am less likely to misplace. It's also to help me to communicate with those kind enough to answer the dozens of questions that I have. And of course I want to share the knowledge I so gratefully receive with a wider audience.

I'll include what I know from my own knowledge plus all of my questions, both answered and unanswered. Where appropriate, I have listed the source of the information, within brackets.  If it is "FNM" followed by a name, this is the username of an individual on Forum de Modelismo Nautico, a Portuguese modeling forum, where I have started a discussion on the culé. If you have something to share but do not wish to bother becoming a member, you can send your comments to the webmaster.


From introduction sheet supplied in drawing packet

Barco de tráfego do rio Tejo, navegou até princípios do século XX. De fundo chato, possuía um leme de larga porta que governava por meio de uma vara chamada "xarolo", para poder subir o rio e navagarem águas pouco profundas. Transportava frutas e outros víveres para abastecimento de Lisboa.

My rewording of a Babelfish translation:

Cargo boat of the river Tejo, sailed until the beginning of the twentieth century. Having a deep flat bottom and a wide rudder (controlled by means of a pole called a "xarolo"), the boat could go up the river and navigate shallow waters. It carried fruits and other victuals to supply Lisbon.

From Embarcações Regionais Da Tradição Portuguese (Regional Boats in the Portuguese Tradition) by Telmo Gomes:

Embarcação também chamada "varino de pau de aresta", pois os remates dos costados com o fundo fazem-se por intermédio dos "paus de aresta".

Motava grande leme de pá longa que alinhava pelo fundo. Apresentava um ou dois estais, destinando-se o primeiro - que enverga uma vela adicional - a fazer baixar quando necessário, o único mastro, muito inclinado para ré. Armava um latino triangular.

Normalmente com 12 a 13 metros de comprimento, tinha uma tripulação dois homens.

English translation from same text:

Also known as Varino de pau de aresta, since the bulwarks are joined at the stern by paus de aresta (cant planks), these boats had a large rudder with a long tiller that was in line with the bottom.

They could have one or two stays. The first one - carrying an extra sail - was used for lowering the single mast, which raked backwards, whenever necessary, and was rigged with a triangular lateen sail.

Usually they were 12 to 13m long with a crew of two men.

From placard for model in the Museu de Marinha, Lisbon, Portugal

Culé ou Barco de água Acima

Pequeno varino, de fundo chato, destinado a subir o Rio Tejo até locais de baixos fundos, de onde transportava para Lisboa sal e outras mercadorias.

English translation from the same source

Culé or Boat of the Upper River

Small varino, flat-bottomed, used in Tagus River for unloading in Lisbon salt and other goods from shallow water ports of the south bank of the river.


The plans were purchased at the Museu de Marinha, in Lisbon. The museum is fantastic and well worth going out of your way for!! Do yourself a favor and allow more time than I had available during our cruise ship's brief stop. As for the city itself, what little I was able to visit after leaving the museum left me wanting to return to see more.

I've made notes on the contents of the plans, but I could not include the plans themselves because they are protected by copyright.

Cover Sheet

A type of boat that was once used for fishing and later for transportion of goods. [FNM-pjesus]
d'Água Acima
Literally, "of water above". The meaning is 'upriver' or 'upstream'. In other words, the rivers origin, where it is still shallow. This is the reason that the rudder is very large and is long instead of deep. [FNM-skipper]
An alternate (perhaps regional or temporal) name for a culé. [FNM-pjesus,lmcharrua,skipper]

Palamenta e Utensilios

Rigging - in the broadest sense of the word. One definition of rigging includes only the ropes, blocks and other objects used to support and operate the masts, booms, spars, and sails. Another valid definition of the word includes the latter. In un-masted boats the word rigging can reasonably be used to describe the oars, oarlocks, poles, boathooks, anchor, etc. In English one would generally refer to these items as 'outfitting'. The Portuguese word 'palamenta' refers to all of the aforementioned objects. The English word 'outfitting' can also refer to items not covered by 'palamenta' (see 'utensilios', below) [FNM-skipper]
Considered to be outfitting items (see 'palamenta' above) that are not part of the boat or its operation (mops, buckets, water barrel, etc). [FNM-skipper]
Image Literally, 'plate'. The meaning is 'gangplank'. The ends are capped with metal to protect them from abrasion. [FNM-skipper] The sketch below is very close to how it appears in the drawing. The band represents the cross section of the plank, showing that it is rectangular and indicating the thickness (the sketch is not to scale - don't use it!). There is a similar band in the drawing of the bancaça and a circle in the center of the vara, croque, and remo drawings. The circles, of course, indicate that the cross sections are circular. This is an space-saving alternative to the standard three-view drawing showing the top, side, and end of a part. Since I am much more familiar with the three-view representation, it did not initially occur to me what the black band represents. If you know what an object is and what it looks like, you don't even need this indicator - poles are of course round! I think this is why I did not initially understand it. But in a drawing you must make no assumptions about the viewer and indicate ever dimension definitively
Actually, I went a long time without knowing what the band and circles indicate. When I finally figured it out, I was embarrassed at missing something so simple. However, I showed the drawings to several knowledgeable people and they did not know either, so perhaps I should not be so ashamed.
Pole - perhaps for propelling the boat in shallow water. In the drawing there is a black circle in the center of the pole, which indicates that the cross section is circular (more at prancha).
Boat hook. In the drawing there is a black circle in the center of the handle, which indicates that the cross section is circular (more at prancha).
Image Oar. This sketch crudely imitates the oar in the official plans. The black circle in the loom indicates that the cross section is circular, as one would expect (more at prancha).
Mop made of ropes and/or rags [FNM-skipper]
Literally, 'balloon'. I believe this is a boat fender.
barril de alcartar
'Barril' obviously translates to barrel (or cask) in English. The qualifier 'de alcartar' is unknown. Drinking water???
The online translator did not work for this, but it is obviously a cup.
balde de limpeza
cleaning bucket
balde de arrebem
Perhaps a bucket for drawing water from the river [FNM-skipper]
Image Bench fitted on top of the inwales.In the plans it is a simple rectangle with a black band in the middle, as shown in the sketch below. The black band shows that the cross section is rectanglar and indicates the thickness (more at prancha) [FNM-skipper]
bomba de esgoto
Bilge pump.
Image This is the long vertical portion of the 'bomba de esgoto', or perhaps the plunger inside. The translation is uncertain, but it is not necessary as the function of the 'bomba de esgota' is obvious. I am told that a bilge pump handle is called a 'picota', and that perhaps 'picok' is a mispelling on the drawing. I wonder also if 'picok' might be an older or regional variation of 'picota'. The sketch is a good approximation of the original drawing. [FNM-Artur Marques]
Literally, 'spillway'. aka 'bartedouro'. A utensil for bailing water. [FNM-skipper]
My original guess was that this is a spigot ("a wooden faucet placed in the bunghole of a cask" - American Heritage Dictionary) perhaps for the 'barril de alcartar'. Among the many kind offerings from the Fórum de Modelismo Náutico, I was informed that this is in fact a pruning knife that is mounted on a pole anywhere from 60cm to 2m long. Speculation is that it is for cutting vegetation along the river bank. I suppose that abandoned/lost fishing nets is another possibility. The sketch is roughly the same as the original drawing. [FNM-skipper]
Image Image
stove [Ricardo - a work associate]
green Google searches provide lots of images of colorful Portugues boats. I am told the bright primary colors are traditional, not just modern touches. [FNM-skipper]
Image Literally, 'flesh-colored', but in meaning it is the same as red. As best as I can determine from web searches and the help of forum members, the Portuguese words for 'red' (vermelho) and 'flesh-colored' (encarnado) are not different shades. Forum member Felipe Seguro offered an rgb value for what he considers encarnado (237,28,36). It is slightly darker than pure red (255,0,0). encarnado [FNM-Paulo Simões,Filipe Seguro]

 Plano vélico

This is the sail plan. Numbers in parentheses refer to numbered items on the plan.

tackle [FNM-skipper]
yard [FNM-skipper]
boom [FNM-skipper]
shroud, compare to Portuguese 'brandal' [FNM-skipper]
stay [FNM-skipper]
Talha do estai
(1)stay tackle [FNM-skipper]
Teque da adriça da vela de proa
(2)The meaning of 'teque' is unknown, but this is the jib (or headsail) halyard. [FNM-skipper]
Talhas do carro da verga
(3)This is tackle used to position the foot of the yard. There is one from the foot of the yard running aft to the mast, and another from the foot of the yard running forward to the deck. I'm having a hard time finding the proper English term(s).
Talha do ovéns
(4)shroud tension tackle [FNM-skipper]
Talha da adriça da verga
(5)yard halyard tackle
Estralheira para serviço de carga
(6)winding tackle [FNM-skipper] winding tackle consists of a fixed triple block, and a double or triple movable block, used for hoisting heavy articles in or out of a vessel (Websters dictionary)
Talhas dos gualdropes do leme
(7)Tackle for rudder control. [FNM-skipper] translated this as "relieving tackle", but as defined in my dictionary, this is temporary tackle attached to a tiller in heavy seas. But this rudder is permanently controlled by this tackle, the 'tiller' running athwartship through the top rudder, outboard of the vessel. Perhaps the same term applies in this arrangement.
Carregadeiras da vela
(8)brails [FNM-skipper]

Divisões Internas e Vistas Supeior de Convés

Internal divisions and views above deck

There are no other terms on this plan that require explanation.

Plano Geométrico

Most of the meanings of the words on this sheet are obvious, but I list them all anyway.

Literally 'bottom'. The meaning here is 'floor' (bottom of the boat).
Edge (at side).
Secções Transversais
Transverse sections (the body plan)
Secções Longitudinais
Longitudinal sections (the sheer plan)
Secções Horisontais
Horizontal sections (the half-breadth plan)
Dimensões Principais
Principal dimensions
Comprimento entre perpendiculares
Length between perpendiculars (which is 15m)
Boca maxima
Maximum beam, which is 4.2m. The common translation for 'boca' is 'mouth'. Either the word has two meanings and the nautical definition is not given by the free online translator used, or the Portuguese actually speak of 'the mouth of a boat' with an implied meaning of width. It makes sense if you consider the 9th definition of 'mouth' as defined by The American Heritage dictionary, which is essentially the same as saying 'width'.
Depth ("Distance between the upper part of the keel and the deck" - [FNM-skipper] ).
a vante
Forward. At first writing I could not get a direct translation for 'a vante' from free online translations, but they have since improved. Before that, I had guessed correctly and my guess was confirmed by [FNM-skipper and Artur Marques]. The given value of 2.8m equals the distance I measured from the sheer edge farthest forward, to the bottom of the floor/top of the stem. As this is a transversely framed boat, it has no keel. Since the measurement is not to the top of the stem at the same longitudinal point where the sheer edge ends (the floor does not continue as far forward as the sheer edge), it seems the floor serves as the reference point in place of the keel (see definition by [FNM-skipper] .. I assume the floor is chosen as the reference instead of the stem because it extends a great deal farther fore and aft than the stem and stern timbers. Since there is also a depth taken at midships, the floor makes a more consistent reference point, although it is odd that the measurements fore and aft are not taken at a single longitudinal point.
a meio
Midships. Literally 'midway'. The meaning is 'midships'. Here too, the free online translators have improved. An initial guess at the time this was first written was confirmed by [FNM-skipper and Artur Marques] - "meio navio to define the zone equivalent to half of the distance between the stern and the bow - midship. The other expression is meia nau. The given distance of 1.6m matches my measurement on the plan from the sheer edge to the bottom of the floor.
a re
Here the free online translators still fall short, but I can see it means 'aft'. (confirmed by [FNM-skipper and Artur Marques]). Unlike, the values for 'a vante' and 'a meio', the given value of 2.05m does not quite match my measurements (but it is close). See 'a vante' for more comments on where these measurements seem to be taken.


Literally 'flat', but in this context, a flat-bottomed boat. Compare to 'chato' ('o' in place of 'a'), which means 'boat'. I'm not sure if this is a coincidence or if the two words are etymologically related. My friendly Portuguese helpers assure me this is indeed a proper word for a flat-bottomed boat, so there is no reason to believe the spelling on the drawing (which is quite clearly 'chata') was in fact intended to be 'chato' ('boat'). [FNM-skipper]
do Culé
Belonging to the culé - it is the larger boat's tender.

 Notch on the stern

The plans for the chata show an elliptical notch on the stern.   After much speculation, this was determined to be an aide for keeping the oar in place while sculling the boat, as evidenced by the photograph.

Image Cover a folk music album, showing a small boat similar to the chata, possibly being sculled


Although the fasteners are unlikely to be visible on this model (it will be completely painted), I am still interested in these details both from an acedemic standpoint and because they will be visible in photos taken during construction. I will look back on these photos even if no one else does, and I will take pleasure in any additional amount of detail and realism.

The cross-section drawing does not include fasteners. Lacking any information directly related to the culé, I am using details from a reference on the fragata, another boat type from the same region. Though different in many respects, they do share some common features. The reference is "Barcos do Tejo, A fragata do Tejo e tipos relacionandos", by Manuel Leitão.

The english translation on page 160 includes details of various sized nail, spikes, and treenails, and where they are used.


Both the culé and the fragata include side frames joined by lapped floors, though in the case of the fragata the bilges are rounded, and on the culé there is a sharp knuckle.

The diagram on page 50 shows three variations for the fasteners used to join the frame timbers.


The two types of faster used for joining the frames are:

pernete de encolamento
a boat spike 13-3/4" long, section 9/16" x 9/16", head 7/8"x7/8"
cavilha de mangue
a 7/8" diameter treenail of mangrove wood

However, the combined thickness of the frame timbers on this vessel is only 11-3/4", so perhaps the next-smaller spike mentioned in the text is more appropriate.

prego de encolar
a boat spike 9" long, section 1/2" x 1/2", head 13/16"x13/16"

Detail 19 uses 3 spikes, detail 18 uses four spikes, and detail 17 uses either four treenails or perhaps two treenails and two spikes - the illustration is ambiguous to me. The legend mentions only treenails for detail 17, but the detail has a combination of solid lines that go completely through the timbers and dashed lines that only partially penetrate the second timber. Details 18 and 19, which clearly use spikes exclusively, have only the partially-penetrating dashed lines. Are timbers bored completely through for treenails, and this is indicated by the solid lines? If so, then the dashed lines in detail 17 should be interpreted as spikes. This is my current interpretation, but I have stong reasons to doubt myself. For instance, what would be the reason for using a mix of fastener types? Opinions on this matter would be appreciated.


Cover a folk music album, showing a small boat similar to the chata, possibly being sculled


Cover of "Barcos do Tejo, A fragata do Tejo e tipos relacionandos", by Manuel Leitão. Oddly, the cover photo is of a culé, not a fragata or similar vessel.

Similar Vessels




The moliceiro is similar in many respects to the culé:

  • no keel
  • upswept stem and stern posts
  • side frames and floors (but floors are inline with frames rather than lapped, as on the culé)
  • long, shallow rudder controlled by tackle (see "Talhas dos gualdropes do leme")
author's photo, used with permission of the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA


Model Subject » Type » Vessel » Merchant » Cargo » Break-bulk
Model Subject » Propulsion » Pole/Oar
Model Subject » Propulsion » Sail
Model Subject » Era » (1815-1914) Late Sail / Early Steam
Model » Modellers » Harrington, Greg
Model » Scale » 1:40
Model Subject » Length » 040-80 feet (12-24m)
Model Subject » Nationality » Portugal
Model » Type » Static
Model » Build Method » Scratch