A small Mediterranean rowing and sailing vessel of the 14th–16th centuries, which could be considered as the Mediterranean counterpart of the English pinnace of the same period. Bergantinas were built up to a maximum of about 12.2 metres (40 ft) in length and had from eight to sixteen rowing benches and a small superstructure aft for the captain and officers. They had one or two short masts, according to their length, to carry a single lateen sail. They were essentially of light construction, relatively broad in the beam, and drew a maximum of about 46 centimetres (18 in.). Their main function was as general purpose vessels for coastal and river work or for sailing to windward against a contrary current. They were in fact a member of the galley family of vessels.
Like the English pinnace, bergantinas were carried ‘knocked down’ in the holds of ships engaged in long voyages of exploration by sea as they could be easily assembled on arrival at any coast for landing and surveying purposes. Columbus carried bergantinas in the holds of his ships during his voyages to the New World, as did most other Spanish and Portuguese explorers of that period.
Subjects: Maritime History — Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).