From their beach, facing west or north-west, the fishermen of the localities of Equihen, Portel, Ambleteuse, Audresselles, and Wissant operate, around 1900, a large flotilla of boats which were beaching, They are cousins of the boats of Berck, and related to the Norman caiques and to the English luggers of Brighton. Clinker built, in local elm, they have a flat bottom and an almost vertical transom. Their length/width ratio is about 2: they are therefore very beamy boats. A sliding central keel gives them a sufficient plan as close as possible.
The rigging is that of bourcet-malet: the bourcet mast, or mainmast, stepped forward, and the mizzen mast, at the stern, each carries a logger sail. A jib is established on the bowsprit. The whole rig is removable and is generally established, on small boats, only after the departure from the beach, which is carried out with the oars. With the support of the tidal currents, these oars constitute a welcome complementary mode of propulsion. The refloating and grounding of these boats are arduous operations, and sometimes dangerous in heavy weather. The refloating of a large Equihen boat even lightened to the maximum, can require the efforts of about fifteen men.
In all the fishing villages of Boulonnais, it is this type of open boat, 4 to 6 meters long, which predominates. Their main job, and often unique, is the ropes job, that is to say, fishing with long lines.
During trips that rarely exceeding one tide, they fish for soles, plaice, cod, whiting, and conger eel. A few boats occasionally practice other trades: the trap, for crab and lobster, and, in Audresselles, the trolling line for sea bass and mackerel. The Portelois and some Wissantais also equip their boats with driftnets during the herring season.
The expansion of the industry of salting in the second half of the XIXth century involves the expansion and decking of the boat. In Equihen, for example, decked boats 7 to 10 meters long fish for herring with driftnets in October and November, and for mackerel, with driftnets or by line, from May to September. A -Wissant, a removable deck that allows open boats, from 6 to 7 meters, to protect the crew during the herring season. When they return from fishing, it is always the women who are responsible for transporting the heavy bags filled with fish, which they also take care of selling.
At the port of Boulogne, small shipowners from Portelois or Boulogne order their boats from the Portel, Equihen or Boulogne shipyards, decked boats of the Equihennois type. They practice the same fisheries and trawl on occasion, but no longer are beaching their boats on the beach.
Around 1900, there are about 150 of these boats. The crews vary with the tonnage and with the fishing practiced: from 2 or 3 men on the smallest to a dozen on the decked boats for the herring fishery. The biggest boats disappeared in the 1920s, after some inconclusive motorization tests. The little ones were fitted with an engine in the 1950s. Wood construction was replaced by polyester in the 1970s. These Boulonnais boats survive through modern flobarts, which have retained similar hull shapes.
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