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Cobles (with one b)

The most iconic vessel still sailing the north east coast of England is undisputedly the coble.

These evolved from the Vikings longships with a high bow and fine lines. Like longships they were clinker or clench built with wide overlapping rivetted planks.

This makes them particularly seaworthy and easy to launched through the waves off the unprotected beaches of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland. Unlike the longship they are not double ended but narrow aft to a steeply raked transom and rudder mounted on pintles.

Beneath the stern they have two running strakes that give them a particular ability to stay upright on the beach as they are hauled up out of the waves.


There are a few of the original sailing vessels in private hands but the local fishermen have generally gone over the diesel powered cobles which retain many of the original features. The twin aft keels create a half tunnel with protects the propeller when they beach. The original cobles were open decked though they often have canvas foredecks to keep the spray out of the boat. Some larger motorised versions boasted a small wheelhouse forward.

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