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Felucca

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Feluccas sailing the Nile River at Aswan. Image provided by Classroom Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
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Feluccas sailing the Nile River at Aswan. Image provided by Classroom Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Felucca in front of an island of Elephantine, Aswan. Image provided by Classroom Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
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Felucca in front of an island of Elephantine, Aswan. Image provided by Classroom Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)

A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in protected waters of the Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean including Malta, and particularly along the Nile in Egypt. Its rig consists of one or two lateen sails.

They are usually able to board ten-some passengers and the crew consits of two, three people. Despite being obsoleted by motorboats and ferries, feluccas are still in active use as a means of transport in Nile-adjacent cities like Aswan or Luxor. They are especially popular among tourists who can enjoy their quieter and calmer mood than motorboats have to offer.

San Francisco's feluccas

Americans are largely unaware of the fleet of lateen-rigged feluccas that thronged San Francisco's docks even before the construction of the state-owned Fisherman's Wharf in 1884. They were built by southern Italian immigrants (who called them "silene"). The light small maneuverable feluccas were the mainstay of the fishing fleet of San Francisco Bay. "These workhorses featured a mast that angled, or raked, forward sharply, and a large triangular sail hanging down from a long, two-piece yard" John Muir described them.

The felucca of the Red Sea is depicted on a postage stamp of British Aden (illustration, left).

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