Intermezzo – Rassegna stampa varo

“Albaola bota un navío tradicional veneciano” | Noticias de Guipuzkoa

“«Laguna» veneziarra itsasoratu dute” |

“Venezia txiki bat Pasaian” | berria

“‘Laguna’, el barco veneciano de Albaola, ya surca el mar” |

“Botadura de un sándalo en Albaola” | El Diario Vasco


“Laguna: la embarcación veneciana en la bahía de Pasaia” | Revista de Ingeniería Naval

Building a traditional Venetian boat in the Basque Country /16

We launched the boat today! I am so happy, and tired, and proud, and relieved.

I know you are eager to see the pics of Laguna in the water, but let me first talk briefly about the last week of work.

Of course we started working on Monday again, we had no time to loose. First step: bilge paint.

We used a bituminous paint especially designed for “humid environments”, on top of the standard two coats of primer.

Then was the time to draw the waterline and paint the sides. At the end, we will find out that the line should have been lower at the aft and higher at the bow (maybe -4cm and +4cm, respectively).

The bilge paint dried pretty fast, so we could soon start working on the floor boards. Again, we chose to build them the traditional way, instead of using marine plywood. The parts are held together by clunched galvanized nails.

When ready, we painted them two coats of primer, plus two coats of the same paint we used for the interior of the boat. In aftertought, maybe they’re too whitish, but there is not much sun here anyway 😉

They resulted to be quite slippery, so we are thinking of adding one more coat of white with some sand (I heard they use sugar sometimes for this, I’ll look into it next week).

The semi-circles are traditional from Venice, and we decided to carve them on the boards in order not to erase them when painting them in the future.
We also painted the inside of the boat with this whitish beige, leaving the sotocorboli (the supports for the forcole) unpainted (they’ll be oiled, like all other parts with wood left visible).

For decks and gunwale after much thinking (green? blue? yellow?), we finally chose yellow and I’m very happy we did. It looks great.

Fun fact: it is the paint we use for the crane in the workshop!

Since the boat has a name, we decided to carve it on the transom. This is not traditional, but we liked the idea of having the name visible. The sides are really too low on the water to write something on them.

Of course it was Ioanna who took care of it.

Some black antifouling finished the job. Usually in Venice they put two coats on the bottom planks and three on the sides, because since they are more exposed to sunlight normally have more growth of marine life.

Luckily for us, Jotun is one of the mayor sponsors of Albaola.

And here is the boat in all it’s beauty, actually still waiting for the second coat on the floor boars to dry (you can see them on the bench on the left).

We even had some extra time to find and old mast that was lying around and borrow the smallest sail we could find.

Please note the family of ducks on the left. How cute are they?

Here we are, the Saturday of the launching, tired but proud of our work.

As soon as I get more pictures of the day I will make sure I post them here, for now here are a few for you to enjoy.

Building a traditional Venetian boat in the Basque Country /15

This week we closed the hull. All four missing planks have been hanged and the compulsory whiskey bottle has been drunk. But let’s start from the beginning.

We don’t usually work on Monday, so I had the time to go to the junkyard and look for a sheet of some non-ferrous metal for the protections going at the tip of the bow and on the top of the transom.

I brought with me a couple patterns in order to know what kind of dimensions I would need.

Unfortunately, I found nothing of the right metal and/or thickness… If it wasn’t something that would have actually protected the boat it didn’t make sense to damage the boat with more fastening, especially in these already delicate parts (transom and breasthook/stem).

The following days we worked on the remaining planks. First the two sides of the bottom go in. These have a very fine tip at the aft end, where there is the biggest curvature, therefore I decided to pre-bend them with heat.

Here in Albaola we commonly do it using a steambox (if you recall, it’s how I bent the planks for the fore deck), but I wanted to try the Venetian way. This video clearly shows how it’s done:

We used a much modern set up, but it was the same in principle.

Bottom left you can see the actual bottom plank. We are testing the set up with an offcut before going for the good one.

This method is much faster, but leaves some charred scars to the wood. Our boat is going to be painted so it didn’t really matter.

The edges of the plank are trimmed after the plank has been nailed on.

From the following picture you might notice that the central plank is asymmetrically placed. This is simply because we couldn’t find two planks with the same width for the sides of the bottom. The original boat our plans are based on has five bottom planks in total, but we tried to have less seams…

On the left, the two side planks are waiting for their turn.

In the Anglo-Saxon boatbuilding world, the last plank is cheered with a bottle of whiskey (from here the term “whiskey plank”). Our teacher is from the U.S.A., so we embraced this tradition.

We left a few clamps overnight in order for the wood to release some of the stresses. The top edge was trimmed flush on the day after.

Time for a round of caulking! We chose oakum instead of cotton string, because hemp is what was used traditionally.

Those irons have been made by Ioanna herself her in Albaola’s forge, cool eh?

These boats don’t have any caulking bevel on the edge of the planks, therefore you have to open up the seams with the iron. Of course, if you hit too hard you might break the plank towards the inside of the boat.

How do I know? Well, try to guess.

UPDATE: My friend Dani documented the moment of despair that ensued.

After having given a coat of primer to the bottom, and having paid the seams with linseed oil puddy and primer, we flipped the work to give the finishing touches to the interior.

Last week I forgot to write that I had the shape of the stanchions changed slightly, to better armonize with the angles of the deck. This is particularly noticeable at the aft.

The spikes are for locking the halyard and other ropes when using the sail. They where made on the lathe and are of course removable.

Also the knees at the thwart have reached to their final shape, after much thinking, thanks to a sketch that Gilberto sent me. All the nail heads(although they are galvanized iron) have been covered by a mix of beeswax and resin, in order to try to further delay corrosion.

We then sanded everything, in and outside, and gave the boat a second coat of primer.

I must admit I am quite proud of how she came out.

Next week is the last one: launching date will be Saturday 22nd. We have less than a week left.

Before then, we’ll have to build the floor, for which we already milled up some larch, and then sand, paint, sand, and paint again. We have some colors in mind, but no spoilers until next week, bye!

Building a traditional Venetian boat in the Basque Country /14

Last week I left you with a sight of the forward deck, more on it on this post.

As you might have noticed, I avoided the modern, tapering-planks method in favor of a more traditional and efficient way of planking. I believe these two photos here below can explain more than a thousand words what I did:

Here is the finished deck, with the planks cut flush with the breasthook. At the tip of the bow you can see the top of the stem, with two small triangles filling the gap on its sides. These are normally separated from the breasthook but Ioanna liked the idea of making them all out of a single piece.

I haven’t caulked it yet, but it might need to be if the planks shrink too much.

At the bottom of the picture you can see a cross piece made of oak, steam bent into place. In Venice it would be bent with open fire but we went for a method I’m more familiar with.

We then installed the two upper strakes called falche (waterboards in English maybe?). The overlap the sheer plank and are fastened mainly to stanchions and frames (but also into the thwart and the deck cross pieces).

At the aft, the transom got its final cut, and looks very elegant now.

After fastening everything, it was time to flip the boat. We therefore dismantled the strongback, since we have no plans to build another sandolo here in the near future.

Now it’s easy to trim the bottom of the frames, flush with he floor timbers.

We also faired the stem and the filling piece at the bow, ready to install the side planks. These are almost ready, just need a few dutchmen and plugs on a few nasty knots here and there.

The extra width will get cut after they are fastened in their final position.

But the side planks are the last to be installed. First we need to close the bottom.

Since we were afraid the dry bottom planks would swell up once in the water, pushing the side planks out of place, we decided to soak them in the sea for a couple of days.

Such a nice weather, right?

I am not sure how they prevent this from happening in Venice, but I’ll try to find out. That’s it for this week, see you the next one, hopefully with the boat ready to be painted!

Building a traditional Venetian boat in the Basque Country /13

Happy May Day, everyone! Today we are not working, it’s also International Workers’ Day after all.

But this week we had good progress and you can really tell that the boat is getting close to be ready…

To be honest, the week started slowly: on Monday Albaola hosted the press conference for “La Fortuna”, a series produced by Movistar+, and directed by Alejandro Amenábar (

Laguna got a place in the first row.

Some of the scenes were filmed in Pasaia, with the partecipation of tall ship replicas Étoile du Roi ( and Shtandart (,_1999)). We were lucky enough to be invited on board both of them!

After all these distractions, we could get back to work. Ioanna started by caulking the aft deck she had installed last week.

We used oakum instead of cotton string, in order to follow more closely the traditional way.

This might need to be redone after the boat sits under the sun for a while, but we thought that the caulking would prevent the deck planks from warping too much while still out of the water.

Then, together with Alejandro, they managed to prepare four out of five of the sotocorboli, the pieces that will receive the foot of the forcole and prevent them from rocking while rowing.

They have quite a complex shape, as you can see from the one in the bottom right.

Also notice that we painted the interior with some primer, after Ioanna had sanded everything.

This is how the thwarts are traditionally painted, in Venice but also here in the Basque Country.

Regarding this semicircular patter, I was once told that it is a reminiscence of the times when boats were covered in tar. You wouldn’t want to stick to the tar with your “clean” trousers, especially in the summer when it all melts. Therefore the seats would be left without tarring.

We followed the tradition, and oiled the thwart instead (with a mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine).

I devoted my time to the closing of the forward deck. Ioanna had prepared the breasthook last week, but kindly left it to me to finish.

After installing the first beam and cutting a rabbet on the socheto (breasthook), I positioned two more beams in between with the help of a batten. The beams have been made out of larch, as will the deck.

As you might have noticed, I had the two smaller beams seated too low and decided to glue two small strips on top of them to reach the right height. I was just too lazy to cut new ones.

In this group picture, you can see how the deck turned out. It still need to be fastened, but you can already notice that it is asymmetrical. It’s been made the traditional way, in order to waste as few material as possible.

The new neighbor is a fishing boat called Zardara, whose faith is still uncertain.

After fastening it I will take some more pictures and explain more in detail how it is done.

What’s the plan for next week?

Nailing the forward deck, hanging the washboards (you can see them in the last picture, lying on the floor next to Laguna), fix the stanchions supporting them, fasten the sotocorboli, cut the transom, and maybe even flip the boat and start closing it for good!