Deep-sea fishing Bragozzo

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Deep-sea fishing Bragozzo

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The Bragozzo d'altura was an important boat and due to its massive shape and for its resistance it was used for deep-sea fishing. The crew required changed from between three to five men in the smaller boats and seven to eight seamen in the bigger es.
They came from Chioggia and were used on the Adriatic cost of Veneto and Romagna. The Bragozzos were the most used fishing boats in the 1700 and 1800, replacing the old tartan which disappeared in the 18th Century. As a consequence of their widespread use, the Bragozzos underwent an evolution mainly in the size of the hulls, which got bigger and bigger until it reached well 12 meters of length.

This kind of boat of simple but strong structure stands out for the proportions of 1 to 4 (between width and length), for the round shape with a high and swollen prow, for the flat bottom, and for the reduced and receding bow. It had a deck with a broad hatch and a big helm which went down much lower than the keel.

The Bragozzos could have one or two masts according to their dimensions and with vele al terzo (1) placed to the left of the mast in order to leave the opposite side free to allow the nets to be operated easily. On the top of the masts a dog-vane could be found, which besides indicating the direction of the wind had also an apotropaic function. Each family took care of their own dog-vane possessively, which were often marked with religious symbols.

In Romagna, many families depended on the bragozzo d'altura to survive. Usually the boats went out fishing in pairs or small fleets of around ten boats and were out to far away seas for several days.

Taking in consideration the hard work, the risks and the importance that it meant to the community, the crew was organized in a meticulous and strict way, in what was called "compagnia" (company) which had a proper administration in order to have a fair division of the profits. The "capo di mare" (sea boss) was elected from among the "Paroni" (the most experienced fishermen), in each "compania". He would establish the rules of navigation and fishing, based on a precise sign code. It was up to the boss to decide when to throw the net, weigh anchor or set sail, and how to proceed with the necessary steps for fishing and steer the boat. Visual or light signals were used during day or night, whereas sound signals were used in case of fog in order to keep the fleet sailing together.

Usually the fish caught was not taken directly to the nearest port, but upon decision of the boss, the bragozzo could be heaved and the fish given to another boat which had the task to load it and take it to the market.

The nets were trawled astern between two boats which went ahead side by side.
The bigger Bragozzos could on the other hand go fishing on their own, using particular equipment, such as the "spontieri", two divergent aerials, placed at the stern and at the bow to hold the net (tartan fishing) or using a dredge called "ramponi".

The Museo della Marineria of Cesenatico exhibits in the Leonardesque harbour a model of a bragozzo d'altura built in Chioggia at the end of the 1800. It is the San Marco, 13.60 meters long and 4.20 meters wide. It has a black hull with green edges, and sails portraying drawings of a moccolo (candle end), tovaglioli (napkins) and a rampant little horse.

A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer


1) A type of fore-and-aft rigged sail. These sails are set along the line of the keel rather than perpendicular to it.


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Tags:A. Cocchi, A. Sturmer, Deep-sea fishing, Bragozzo, tourism.

Per saperne di più sulla città di: Cesenatico


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Ugo Bertotti. Bragozzo d'altura. 1992. Jpeg illustration from the original drawing in watercolour and coloured pencils.

disegni da colorare


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