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Aguador (also called Cuia da Vela): A container used to scoop up seawater to throw on the sail. Originally the container was a wooden bowl or a half coconut shell tied to a long branch. Today the bowl is usually a metal can or a plastic cup.

Closeup of the amura, the line at the foot of the sailAmura: The line located at the tack of the mainsail, used to tension the foot of the sail and hold the jaws of the boom tight to the mast.

Anzol: A fishing hook.

Araçanga: A small wood club (or priest) used to kill fish and tenderize bait (and wake up tired fishermen).

Artisanal Fishing: Traditional, low impact, fishing methods.

Banco do Governo: The jangada’s steering bench. A plank supported on four legs that are doweled into the deck.

Banco da Vela (or Banco do Mastro): The jangada’s tabernacle frame or “sail bench”. It is a stout beam supported on two thick legs that are doweled into the deck. It supports the mast, allowing the spar to be angled to port or starboard depending on the tack.

Two men carrying a jangada's Barril or water cask.Barril: A water barrel or cask. It holds the drinking water for a trip. Lashed on deck (either to the espeque frame or steering bench) for easy access. A short length of hose is used to siphon up the water.

Drawing of a bicheiro - a gaff.Bicheiro: A gaff. Used to get fish on board.

Bico da Proa: The third mate on a jangada, under the proeiro and mestre. He fishes up by the tabernacle or on the foredeck. His responsibilities include anchoring, depth sounding, and wetting the sail (though these tasks are fluid – performed by all on board). The bico da proa marks his fish by cutting off both tips of the caudal fin.

Bolacha: A large cracker made from wheat flour, water, and salt. About five inches square and one half inch thick. Known as hardtack in English. A cracker eaten by sailors.

Bolina: The jangada’s daggerboard. Made from a single plank of hardwood. On the larger jangadas it is about eight feet long, sixteen inches wide, and one inch thick. It slides up and down through the daggerboard box.

Bote: The smallest size jangada, no more than eleven feet long. They are used for fishing close to shore and carry one or two jangadeiros at most. They can be rigged for sailing, but usually are just rowed with a paddle. Modern botes are frequently made from pieces of Styrofoam encased in an open hull-shaped frame.

Braço: A unit of measurement for depth. The distance between outstretched arms. Approximately six feet or a fathom.

Cabos do Espeque: A pair of lines tied to the espeque’s forquilha (center post). Allow the jangadeiros to hike out over the rail to counter the tipping hull. Each jangadeiro has his own set of cabos (lines). The espeque frame and lines are a crude sailing trapeze. Possibly the first example of a sailing trapeze.

A jangadas Banco da Vela or tabernacle showing the beam support lines. Cabrestos: The lines tied to each end of the tabernacle beam, running fore and aft to the deck. Used to brace the tabernacle frame.

Calçador: A tapered post used to hold the mainsheet, and as a fulcrum for steering and sculling. Doweled to the deck just aft of the steering bench, one port, one starboard.

Calço da Bolina: Daggerboard box.

Jangadeiro setting the fish stew pot on the fire.Caldo: The fish stew broth.

Cana do Leme: The “stalk of the rudder.” The tiller. It is approximately five feet long and three inches in diameter. It connects to the top of the rudder post with a simple mortise and tenon joint.

Carlinga: The mast step, located directly under and in line with the tabernacle beam. A thick plank with a series of holes carved in the top to hold the mast’s foot in place. Older carlingas had up to thirteen holes. Modern carlingas usually have three holes: one on the port side to angle the mast to starboard (starboard tack position); one on the starboard side to angle the mast to port (port tack position); and one hole in the center for raising and lowering the mast, or when repetitive tacking is required.

Carnaval: A Catholic festival prior to the beginning of Lent. The festival ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnival. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).

A jangada's mainsail showing the carregadeira or gathering line.Carregadeira: A line circling the top third of the sail that is used to gather the sail for reefing. Only used when running as it completely distorts the shape of the sail.

Chumbo: Lead. Lead fishing sinker.

Colônia de Pescadores: Fishermen’s Colony. Associations, like unions, in charge of fisheries within a specified area (municipality or district). The colonies provide some social assistance and benefits to the fishermen who are paying members. They were started in 1918 by the Brazilian navy as a means to organize local fishermen to help protect Brazil’s vast coastline from possible invasion. Today the colonies are mostly independent, setting the rules for the members in their area. But they also fall under federal jurisdiction, overseen by both the Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries (MPA), and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).

Contra Bico (or Rebique): Fourth mate on a jangada. Fishes up by the tabernacle on the port side, or on the bow. He marks his fish by notching the head.

A picture of a jangada's staysail with a rooster cartoon figure.Coringa: The jangada’s staysail.

Cuia da Vela: Same as Aguador. See above.

A paquete's mast with the sail unfurled.Envergue: The line lashing the luff of the mainsail to the mast. It spirals around the mast from head to (almost) foot.

Escota: The jangada’s mainsheet. It ties to the aft end of the boom and is sheeted to the windward calçador with several spiral turns.

Escotilha: The jangada’s hatch.

Espeque: “Stanchion.” A frame of branches located just forward of the steering bench. It is made from two tall posts doweled to the deck and connected above with horizontal braces. A third higher post is lashed to the braces at the center – ending in a Y called the forquilha. The espeque has many functions. It is used to hold line, fishing tackle, the quimanga (farinha container), the mast and boom when lowered, and the icebox frame is tied to the forward side. Carries the espeque lines which the jangadeiros use to hike out on while sailing, to counter the tipping hull. The fixed part of a jangada’s sailing trapeze.

Farinha: A coarse flour made from cassava (mandioc) root. A staple of the jangadeiro’s diet.

Fateixa:  A jangada’s anchor. It is made from a large stone (or chunk of concrete) held in a birdcage of branches. The base of the cage looks like a wooden Christmas tree stand with each end sharpened to a point. A hole is drilled through each leg of the base to insert a vertical branch for the cage. The stone sits on the base surrounded by the four branches, which are then lashed together above to hold the rock tight. A loop is made where the branches join for the anchor line.

When used, the anchor is pulled on its side so two of the legs dig into the sand like a grappling hook. It is crude but very effective. The only thing more primitive on the beach is a tauaçu, another rock anchor used for smaller jangadas (called botes).

Forquilha: The forked top of the espeque’s center post. It is used to hold the mast when lowered, and to attach the cabos do espeque.

The bottom of a jangada's hull showing the forras, or runners.Forras: The runners on the bottom of a jangada’s hull.

SternpostGudgeon: The bronze brackets used to attach the modern rudder to the sternpost. Four gudgeons in total – two at the sternpost that mate with two attached to the rudder’s leading edge, stitched together with a long steel rod.

Guinda: The head of a jangada’s mainsail.

Isca: Fish bait.


The trade name for Styrofoam. It is also the name given to a jangada’s large Styrofoam ice box. The ice box sits in a wooden frame that is tied to the forward side of the espeque. Nine bars of ice are placed in the box, stacked three across and three rows high. A piece of sailcloth is sandwiched between each layer to keep the ice from fusing together. A heavy sheet of plastic is then draped over the stack and stuffed down around the sides to protect the Styrofoam box from any shifting the bars might do while sailing. The ice initially fills the box about two-thirds full, leaving enough space for the first haul of fish.

The smaller jangadas (called botes) are often made by encasing pieces of Isopor in a hull shaped lattice, creating a buoyant platform that is used for fishing close to shore.

Jangada: A small sailboat used for coastal fishing in northeastern Brazil. They first came into being in the first half of the 17th century, when a sail was added to the log rafts used by the Tupi Indians in the region. The inventor is not known but assumed to be Dutch. The Dutch had a colony in northeastern Brazil at the time. Modern jangadas have planked hulls and decks, and come in various sizes: Bote – small (no larger than 11′); Paquete – medium (12′ – 16′); Jangada – large (17′-21′); Jangada do Alto – largest (up to 25′).

Jangada do Alto: “Jangada of the high seas.” The largest jangada, used to sail tens of miles offshore. They have a hold below deck where food and equipment are stored, and where the jangadeiros can sleep.

Jangada de Piúba: The original jangada rafts made from six tree trunks pinned together with hardwood dowels. They were constructed from Apeiba Tibourbou (“Piúba”) – a tree similar in density to balsa wood. The rafts would last only one or two seasons before they became waterlogged and needed to be replaced. They are no longer made due to the scarcity, and price, of the lumber.

Jangada de Tábuas: “Jangada of planks.” A modern jangada constructed with a planked hull and deck. It was first built around 1940, by José Monteiro and José da Cruz in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. They have now completely replaced the traditional log rafts.

Jangadeiro: A traditional fisherman from northeastern Brazil.

Leme: The jangada’s rudder. A pair of gudgeons are used to hang the rudder from the sternpost. A long steel rod acts as the holding pin.

Ligeira: A running stay tied to the upper part of the mast. Used to help support the mast while running.

Marcação: To ‘Mark.’  A means of locating a boat’s position by taking bearings from permanent features on land. The bearing lines are triangulated (crossed) to ‘fix’ the position at sea. At least two separate bearing lines are required for a fix, but three is better.

Mastro: The jangada’s mast. Made from several branches scarfed together with heavy fishing line.

Meiação: The “half-share” system used to divide the catch between the jangada’s owner and the jangadeiros who use the jangada. If the owner does not fish, he is entitled to one half of all the fish caught by the jangadeiros on his jangada. If the owner fishes, he will keep everything he catches plus a third of what the others catch.

Mestre:  “Master.” The captain of a jangada. Responsible for steering and navigation. The mestre fishes from the jangada’s port quarter, by the steering bench. A mestre’s fish are not marked.

A paquete (smaller jangada) sitting on the beach.Paquete: A midsize jangada, smaller than a Jangada do alto and larger than a Bote. Anywhere from 12 to 16 feet long. It usually does not have a hatch to access the narrow space below deck.

Patião: (also called Quilha). The keel on a modern jangada.

A jangada's boom being held in place by the peia. A jangadeiro with his hand on the boom.Peia: A line tied to the mast that keeps the boom head from dropping down..

A jangadeiro is adding the caldo (fish broth) to the farinha to make the pirãoPirão: A dish that is made by mixing hot fish broth (caldo) with farinha. It can be soupy, like porridge, or firm, depending on the amount of broth that is used.

Piúba: Short for Apeiba Tibourbou, the tree used to make the original log rafts. See Jangada de Piúba, above.

Poita: The anchor line.

The jangada's stern, showing the air plug in the transom.Popa: The stern.

The bow of two jangadas. Proa: The bow

Proeiro: The first mate on a jangada. His tasks include anything that needs to be done. The proeiro fishes from the jangada’s starboard quarter, by the steering bench. He marks his fish by cutting the upper part of the tail fin.

Quimanga: A storage container hung from the espeque (the orange ball in the pictures below). It is usually filled with farinha, but can also hold crackers, cookies, matches – whatever needs to be kept handy and dry.

Rebique: see Contra Bico above.

Remo do Governo (also Remo da Zinga):  A large wooden oar that was used to steer the log rafts. It is still used to steer a modern jangada out through the breakers, where the transom mounted rudder would hit the bottom. The larger remos are over eight feet long.

Remo da Zinga: Sculling oar. It is the same oar as the Remo do Governo above.

Roladores: The men in the village who make their living by pushing the heavy jangadas to and from the water. For this they are paid with fish caught by the jangadeiros.

Rolos: The two rollers used to move the jangadas on the beach. They are made from the trunk of a coconut palm. The trunks ride on two hardwood tracks placed in the sand in the direction of travel.

Sambura: A spherical woven basket used to hold fish.

Drawing of a jangada's stone anchor.Tauaçu: A simple stone anchor without a wooden frame. The anchor line (poita) can be attached through a hole in the stone, or by simply cinching the line around the stone like a collar.

Testa: The luff of a jangada’s mainsail.

Tranca: A jangada’s boom. It is usually made from one long hardwood trunk. The wishbone head is a separate piece scarfed to the spar with heavy fishing line.

Tripulação: The jangada’s crew. Usually comprised of four men (including the captain) on the larger jangadas: Mestre, Proeiro, Bico da Proa, Contra Bico (or Rebique).

Vela: The jangada’s mainsail, made from heavy cotton.

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