A felucca is a sailing craft native to Egypt and the Mediterranean. These boats have been used since antiquity by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and while they are primarily utilized as tourist attractions and leisure craft today, some working feluccas can still be seen in various corners of the Mediterranean. These boats are perhaps most famously associated with the Nile River in Egypt, and many tourists make a point of taking a trip on a felucca during a visit to Egypt.
These boats are narrow, designed to move quickly and efficiently, and they feature lateen rigging, a type of rigging characterized by a triangular sail. Lateen rigging also appears to be native to the Mediterranean, although it can also be seen on some traditional Chinese ships. A standard felucca can accommodate two to three crew members along with 10 passengers, with some boats being designed to carry cargo, while others are definitely built with passengers in mind.
Feluccas utilize the breezes which skim over the surface of the Nile for power, and captains can also take advantage of the prevailing currents in the river. On a brisk, breezy day, a felucca can move at a good clip along the river, while quieter weather can cause the boat to move sluggishly. Like other sailing craft, feluccas are also very quiet, in marked contrast with the motorboats which ply the Nile and the Mediterranean.
Traditionally, the felucca is made from wood, although modern craft use other materials because they are cheaper and they can be more durable. The boat usually has a seating area with cushions in the middle which may surround a table which can be used to hold food and drink. Egyptians sometimes rent feluccas for a few hours to hold social gatherings on the Nile, especially in the hot summer months when being on the shore can be unbearable. Felucca trips can last an hour to several days, although lengthy trips can be uncomfortable because the boats are not designed for sleeping.
People who are interested in taking a felucca sailing trip while they are in Egypt can often find a multitude of these boats near the shores of the Nile. Fees vary, but are generally inexpensive, and tourists may find it advisable to seek out recommendations from the desk clerks at their hotels or from travel organizations. As with any sailing trip, if the craft looks unseaworthy or the captain appears to be suspect, people should seek out another boat to sail on.