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The Gabare Boats

BOATS OF YORE


Our company's two passenger gabares, the jewels of our fleet, are faithful replicas of the vessels that transported goods in the 19th century.

What is a gabare? A flat-bottomed boat. Boatmen have to adapt to a river's specificities and the Lot has many dams known in river language as "causeways". In order to cross the causeways safely, they designed these very shallow boats. Their draft, the part of the hull that sinks below water level, is only 70 cm deep.

Their other notable feature is their mast. Rather than a sail, a long hemp rope was fastened to the top of the mast and used to tow the vessels from the banks.

THE "COMTE DE LAPOPIE"


This gabare was the first to sail the waters of the Lot, with a 70 passenger capacity. A French shipyard was hired to fulfil this historical project. Here are the technical characteristics:
  • Length: 16.00 meters
  • Width: 4.00 meters
  • Draft: 0.70 meters
  • Combustion engine: diesel 85 HP
  • Materials: polyester and wood
  • Construction: 2011

THE "BARON DE CARDAILLAC"


This Gabare was built based on original 19th century blueprints and has a capacity of 75 passengers. Its modern engine allows the Captain to choose between combustion and electric power, so passengers can enjoy the sounds of nature along the river. The technical characteristics of this vessel:
  • Length: 17.00 meters
  • Width: 4.00 meters
  • Draft: 0.70 meters
  • Hybrid engine: diesel 85 HP and electric 15 KW
  • Materials: polyester and wood
  • Construction: 2013

THE "ACANTHE"


The Acanthe is a replica of gabares that sailed the waters of the River Lot long ago. It was built by an association of antique boat enthusiasts. You can see the tiller at the back, a 20m long paddle used for steering purposes. Captains would walk left and right on the cabin to steer.

Also note that a thick hemp rope was fastened to the mast to tow the gabare. A large square sail could also be used, but only with tailwind to not unsettle the vessel.

The replica now is located at the River Port in Bouziès, giving visitors the opportunity to touch a piece of our river's History.

HISTORY OF NAVIGATION ON THE RIVER LOT


The first gabares to sail the Lot were built upstream and taken apart downstream as boatmen did not know how to move their vessels against the current. When the towing system was invented, masts were installed on the boats and paths were created along the banks - the famous towpaths. Navigation became safer, boat crews became more professional, and gabares increasingly sturdy. Depending on size, the vessels were known as "batelet", "gabarot", "passe-cheval", "macalets" or "grand bateau" (big boat).

At the time, the river was the main channel for trade. Crews sailed to Cahors and even Bordeaux with local goods such as coal, wood, cheese, sweet chestnuts, walnuts and, of course, wine. They would carry precious colonial products back upstream: salt, spices, citrus fruits... and codfish!

Cod was bought by the bag in Bordeaux. The bags were hooked boats' rudders and dragged behind them during the upstream journey to desalt the goods in our fresh waters. So much cod was carried back that it became a regional culinary specialty known as "estofinado".
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