Directions for the Bar of Figueira in Portugal.
( n.d. (ca. 1807)), n.p.
Folio sheet, 32. 5 cm. with signature in manuscript.
This is a broadside of about 400 words giving instructions for entering the port at the Mondego River, midway down Portugal’s western coast. The first part of the Directions – “Cape Mondego”- direct the mariner to Cape Mondego, the headland by which the port may be recognized. “On the South side of the Cape, at the bottom of the Bay, lies Buarcos, a small Fishing Town, from which boats go off to Vessels that require a Pilot.” The Directions then discuss tides, water depths, and proper approach, warning ships seeking a pilot “to steer by the Signals from the Castle and Pilot Boats within Side of the Breakers.” The second half of these Directions – “Explanation of Signals” – concern this signalling process. “When the sea is high and no Boat can go off to put a Pilot on board, it is customary to call vessels to the Bar, by hoisting a Flag, or Colours at the Castle; but if the Colours are afterwards lowered it shows the Tide is not sufficiently made… If a gun is fired without the Colours hoisted; it is a Signal for Vessels to make more sail in order to save the Tide.” Further signals from the castle “which are made by a Pole with a small Flag attached to it” instruct ships on how to approach the bar while waiting for a pilot. The document is signed in manuscript, “Balthor Whitney & Co.,” presumably an English mercantile firm. The othography – ie., “colours” strongly suggests a British origin for these Directions, and the watermark “F / 1807” helps confirm this. since during that period England was allied with Portugal in the Napoleonic wars. This is a lovely piece of paper, clean and fresh, with the crisp imprint of the type and handsome signature. Unrecorded and certainly rare.