A drab day. Rain and low cloud. But headed to Redcar in the afternoon so I thought I’d seek out a traditional coble. A coble is a flat bottomed fishing boat that’s found from the Humber to the Tweed. It’s clinker built, overlapping planks on a frame. The flat bottom enables it to be launched and recovered from the beach. It’s supposed to be a design that’s a direct descendant from the boats used by the Vikings that raided and eventually settled along the North East coast.
So to Fishermen’s Square where the boats are parked up on their trailers ready for the next launch. But to my dismay I couldn’t find a traditional coble; at least one that looked reasonably sea worthy. One characteristic I was looking for is a flat overhanging ‘horseshoe’ stern essential for launching and recovery (both done stern to beach) and to aid stability in rough seas under sail. This boat is one of many that are double ended, its stern is pointy and I have now learnt the design is actually referred to as a ‘mule’. Apparently it’s faster and more manoeuvrable and would have been the favoured boat for fishing for the herring using drift nets. But with the decline of sail as the means of power and tractors for launching the need for a flat stern has become redundant.