Sunday, 15 March 2009

Isabella arrives in Funchal

When they arrived at Funchal, Madeira in 1853, Isabella de Franca and her husband had to land by boat. They were swung from the ship to the boat in a chair, which Isabella found alarming but exciting:
"I was very much scared at being hoisted out of the ship, to hang over the sea, and then be swung back again and dropped into the boat; but when the Captain had packed me up safe, wrapping a Union Jack round my legs and fee, I shut my eyes and before I was aware of having moved, felt a hand and heard a voice in the boat, into which I had thus rapidly and silently descended. In a minute were were both comfortably seated, with our friend and a Custom House Officer in charge of our luggage; and a beautiful row we had..."

Her watercolour doesn't show the chair: presumably it was used only to load the outermost of the wherries which are moored three abreast against the ship. One lady is being carried on the shoulders of a beefy sailor, stepping from boat to boat with casual confidence, despite the nasty chop that is sending waves almost to the gunwales of the boats.
Dangling in a chair over the ocean, even when draped in a Union Jack, is not exactly a stylish arrival but much more memorable than staggering into the airport terminal from the EasyJet plane.

No comments: