Friday, February 29, 2008

Maritime Book Review 1 - "Lisbon Docks and Ships"

In the next few months I will review several books concerning maritime matters. There will be no fixed schedule, although I’m anticipating one or two monthly posts on this subject.

All books that will be appraised here are owned by this blog author, some were offered, most were bought. There is no commercial intention whatsoever, the only purpose of this new section is to divulge one of my favorite things (books) concerning my favorite theme (the Sea).

If there is any copyright infringement on any of the posts let us know at once.

The Book.

One difficulty that immediately arose was the choice of the first book to review, since it will carry a symbolic meaning. After careful consideration I decided to pick “Lisbon Docks and Ships”, by Luís Miguel Correia.

The reasons for this choice are mainly two. The first concerns the book’s author, a respected maritime historian and photographer whose devotion to ships and nautical matters is well known. Since I own several books from this friend of the Sea, the next step was to choose one from the bookshelf. This is where the second reason steps in. Although many photographs depicted on the book are prior to my career at sea, all are part of my memories from the years I lived on the South margin of the River Tagus, and the maritime activities were a daily presence, from the big tankers drydocked at Lisnave Shipyards, to the anchored vessels at “Mar da Palha”, the weekend trips with my Grandfather to out of service ferries “Cacilheiros” (pirate ships for me…) and the regular visits to the Naval Museum and the Lisbon Planetarium.

Who would say that I would later sail on those ships and, even later, handle them as a pilot…

Now back to the book. “Lisbon Docks and Ships” features lots of beautiful colored photos taken between 1975 and 1996, depicting the relationship between the city, the harbour and the ships.

The beautiful reefer Tropical Sintra, February 1986

In the first pages it becomes quite clear that this isn’t just a book with photographs of ships taken by some shipspotter.

It is a book where you can almost sense the port activities, the cranes moving on the wharves, the noisy tugboats pulling the massive ships, the service boats steaming for the anchored ships for the crew relief, the gasoline smell from the tankers discharging for the city’s refinery, the passengers sprinting for the last ferry that will take them to the other side of the river, the noise of the chain running through the hawsepipe as the anchor is dropped and so on…

Greek cruise liner Atlas alongside Alcântara Passenger Terminal, February 1981

Historical pictures dating from the early 80’s can be found of several old Portuguese ships belonging to now extinguished shipping companies. Portuguese cargo vessels “Muxima”, “Funchalense”, “Madeirense”, “Bernardino Corrêa”, “Porto” (which I believe to have been built by Viana Yards), “Quelimane” and “Amarante”, all now a memory of a not so late past when the decline and fall of the Portuguese Merchant Marine was already under way.

Several Portuguese vessels anchored at Mar da Palha during the extinguish process of CNN and CTM companies, or the beggining of the end...

More recent pictures (late 80’s and early 90’s) show some ships of important Portuguese companies such as Portline, Transinsular, Soponata and Sacor Marítima, all regular callers at Lisbon Port.

One of the pictures shows the tanker “Galp Leixões” discharging three different grades at Cabo Ruivo, the oil terminal that would eventually be dismantled to be converted on the EXPO 98. On this ship I served as 3rd Officer, 2nd Officer and Chief Officer, several times. Alongside this berth I worked endless hours, managing pumps and valves, to get the gasolines, gasoils and jet fuels to the refinery pipes as fast (and safely) as possible. This “T” shaped jetty was sometimes so busy with vessels from the same company (Sacor Marítima) that I remember one occasion when “Galp Leixões” and sister vessel “Galp Sines” were on the outer berths while “Galp Faro” and “Galp Lisboa” were alongside the inner ones. At least that gave us a chance to go and try the other ship’s Cook food…

Galp Leixões discharging at Cabo Ruivo

The book also has lots of panorama views of the South margin terminals (oil, bulk and grain) as well as navy vessels, both Portuguese and foreign visitors.

South margin terminals

Given the importance of Lisbon Port as a tourist destination, cruise vessels and liners couldn’t be missing. Old ladies such as the “Canberra”, “Maxim Gorkiy”, “Augustus” and “Oriana” (from 1960) are now historical photographs. One that soon will no longer call at Lisbon (or any other port), the “QE2”, is also depicted alongside as well as sailing.

As a summary it can be said that this book reflects the importance of maritime activities in the Tagus estuary. These activities were responsible, throughout the centuries, for the development of Lisbon as well as all the other cities spread through the river margins. The Portuguese maritime inheritance is well documented in this book and it is a shame that nowadays politicians tend to forget this legacy, completely transforming the waterfront with ugly buildings and reducing port operational area.

Title: Lisbon Docks and Ships

Author: Luís Miguel Correia

Pages: 96

Edition: EIN, Edições e Iniciativas Náuticas

ISBN: 972-96940-1-X

All photos posted on this blog copyright Luís Miguel Correia

1 comment:


Muito obrigado pela forma como apreciou o livro CAIS E NAVIOS DE LISBOA. Foi feito para comemorar os meus primeiros 20 anos de fotografia de marinha numa perspectiva associada a Lisboa. Foi o livro nº 003.
Entretanto prosseguiu a actividade e hoje foi assente a quilha do livro nº 017 e conto chegar ao final do ano com diversas novas publicações.
A forma honesta e compreensiva como soube apreciar este meu trabalho é o melhor estímulo que posso ter para continuar.

Muito obrigado