Docking Blocks

The docking blocks (Βάζα - Vaza), are a device used by traditional boat yards (Καρνάγια - Karnayia, Ταρσανάδες - Tαrsanades) to haul boats in and out over a wooden frame, or slip, which slants upward from under the water at the shoreline and runs on to the land.

The vaza consist of two large and heavy wooden beams re-enforced on their sides by iron plates, adding to their weight so that they can sink in the water.

The beams are held together by two iron bars, of suitable diameter, one to the front and one to the rear. These bars are removable.

The distance between the beams is variable and is adjusted to the breadth of the boat to be hauled in or out. This distance is then maintained by means of a chain.


Drawing by Elina Dallas

In the case of a haul out the device, is sunk in the water at low depth and rests at low depth on the wooden slip. The boat then is driven over the vaza until she touches the beams which remain in parallel under the boat along the length of the hull. The keel now rests between the beams. The boat is then lashed by ropes (μουστάκια - moustakia).

One end of a wire-rope is attached to the docking blocks and the other to a windlass or capstan on land.

Then the whole contraption, docking block beams and boat together, is slowly raised by the windlass and slides along the frame of the slip, which is set at a gentle slope, and the boat is hauled out.

On land, rectangular wooden beams, the falagia (φαλάγγια), are placed at the end of the frame and perpendicular to it. They are covered with grease to minimize friction as the docking blocks with the boat are pulled over them by the windlass. As many falagia are used as needed to allow the boat to be hauled to the desired location on land.

After the boat has reached the desired location, the chain and the bars are removed and the docking block device is dismantled to be used for another boat. Before the dismantling of the docking block, the boat on the blocks is secured on the ground and is supported by wooden posts (μπουντέλια - boundelia).


(Archive of Nikos E. Riginos)