Catalan Nava

Sober and massive, the shape of this hull is decidedly far from those of the slender Nordic langskips, and immediately call it "nut shell".

The Catalan Nave above is in fact drawn from a reconstruction closer to one of the oldest ex-votos ever found, dating well before Columbus expedition. The ex-votos are, in the absence of the engravings made by artists who are not necessarily sailors, the best testimonies which have remained to us, probably the most faithful and the richest of information because realized by nature by those who were on board ...

There was indeed no plan or instructions relating to the ships of those periods in the shipyards, since the construction techniques proper to each master carpenter were of oral tradition. This nave could have been a caravel both by the forms and by the technique of construction. Even considering possible exaggerations in proportions, these were coasters of small dimensions (25 meters at best), particularly large hull (10 meters for 25, a ratio of 2.5 / 1) advantage for stability and a serious disadvantage in keeping track. The hull was 6 meters high, which meant an ample space on board to match its charter vessel vocation and height was a guarantee in the heavy weather.

Built in oak like the Caravelles, with a front ending in the same way but surmounted by a small castle, the toldilla, a triangular platform backed by lateral "stairs" that surmounted and framed the stern, forming a kind of small post before, which will become the fellow and will assume enormous proportions on the caracas a century later. The Tolda, the quarter-deck, also served as a shelter for the helmsman handling the large saffron, but it is not known if a mechanism allowed him to better distribute his effort (hoists and drosses).

This Tolda was surmounted by a small poop, observation deck (possibly used to make the point), protected by a simple guardrail. The cargo was well protected in the hold, the access of which was closed by a single small hatch between the mast and the front station. Solidly built, although modest, this very close cousin of Santa Maria had only a reduced sail to a large sail, requiring only a smaller crew, but restricting the possibilities of maneuver. The ship was a coaster, but it was designed to be able to face roads leading from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and the North Sea.

The original model of this ex-voto is now on display in a room in the Prins Hendrik Museum in Rotterdam. It has been decorating for centuries the vault of the chapel Saint Simon de Mataro in Catalonia and remains one of the best indicators of the construction techniques of this period that remained to us...