Friday, 18 February 2011

The Northumbrian Coble

This is a Northumbrian coble, the traditional fishing  bopat of the Northeast coast coming into Beadnell harbopur, Northumberland. To the beginner the very term coble can be confusing as it covers a range of sizes and patterns. They could be any size between 12 and 38 feet long with the average being about 30 foot with a beam of 8 feet although some were as long as 50 feet.

The coble is to be found roughly from The Firth of Forth as far south as Bridlington in Yorkshire.
However just as the accent changes as one travels through this area so does the coble (pronounced as in noble). In general the Northumberland sailing coble for example wasn't so wide as the cobles you find in the East Riding these days.

In Yorkshire too the word is pronounced "cobble" (as in hobble) and when I once interviewed Andrew Rutter who had sailed cobles out of Seahouses he told me “The sailing rig of the Yorkshire boats was regarded by the old Northumberland men, as vastly inferior to that of their boats, having four times the amount of rope to run before the sail was down!”

There are very few harbours on this coast so the keelless coble evolved to suit the often stormy surf conditions and to launch and land on the long flat bottomed beaches. This is due in no small way to the main features of the coble being a deep forefoot and a flat bottom towards the stern. This deep forefoot steadies the boat whilst the wave drives her up the slope on her drafts.

Have a great day wherever you are.

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