My ship Catalogue

Classic Ship Models 7

Painting of Xebecs by Antonio Barcelo 1738

A Profile of

The Spanish Xebec (Xabeque)

The type of vessel known as the Xebec was used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea by many nations and for many purposes. The design was developed from the galleys, originally used as corsairs, being equipped with both Lateen sails and oars for propulsion.They had a narrow floor area to provide higher speed than their victims but still had considerable beam to allow for an extensive sail plan.

The Lateen rig of the Xebec allowed them to sail close hauled to the wind, giving them an advantage in pursuit and escape. The use of oars (or sweeps) enabled them to approach vessels which were becalmed.  When used as corsairs, they carried a crew of 300-400 men and mounted between 16 and 40 guns according to size.  In a commercial role, they could readily transport cargo.

The model of the "Cazador", shown below, is the Spanish version and was used by the Spanish crown in the mid 18th century to fight Algerian  corsairs (pirates) in the Mediterranean waters. The French and Italian city states adopted similar designs for the same purpose.  Generally larger and with more fire power than the corsairs, they were instrumental in providing safer passage to their merchant ships of the day.



A Spanish Xebec circa 1783

This model of mine was built between July 2007 and March 2008.  The 1:60 scale model has an overall length of 860 mms, a 160 mms beam and is 640 mms to the top of the main yard.

The kit is now produced by a new Spanish model maker, "Occre" of Barcelona and is double planked throughout.  The manufacturer provides good photographs of the order of work, basic plans and instructions together with the decorative items, metal fittings such as cannons and gun port doors, rigging cottons and sailcloth.  The timber is in various lengths and widths according to its use and all have to be fashioned by the model maker to suit the specifications.  It took about 500 leisure hours to complete.

The above details of the kit provided apply to all kits supplied by kit manufacturers but quality and quantities do vary (see my article on ship modelling after the Home Page).

This model was donated for charity in September 2008 at the NSW Parliament House, Sydney, Australia.  The money raised was on behalf of Retina Australia of whom Don Burke is the NSW patron.  It followed the auctioning of H.M.S "Victory" which had been auctioned over the three consecutive previous years.