Monday, 20 April 2009

Isabella de Franca leaves Calheta

The last picture from Isabella de Franca's journal of her first visit to Madeira in 1853-4 illustrates the perils of launching from a beach. She has just visited Calheta, then a remote hamlet but now a rather suburban place with holiday villas stretching up the hill. Today the beach is artificial, held in place by a sea wall.
Isabella clearly enjoyed the experience:
We took our places in the boat; overwhelmed with 'adieus'...and then began a scramble which defies description. These twenty copper men ranged themselves on each side of the boat, and at a signal given pushed it with all their strength into the water, screaming, splashing and jostling one another, with wild cries and gestures, till we were fairly launched upon the waves, and then they all jumped in and swam after us...
I like the boat. It has five oarsmen, like a British naval whaler, and tall posts sticking up from the stem and stern to hold a line supporting the canopy at the stern. Everyone looks as though they are having a whale of a time.

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