Water-colour drawing of a masula boat, Madras, dated c, 1787. The drawing is inscribed: 'A Massula Boat, such as are used at Madras for crossing the Surf as no ship Boat can weather it'; in German: 'Ein boot Mosuli boot genannt, womit man' 'durch die brandung, durch die groszen Wellen geht, die hier zu sehen sind' (A boat, called a Masuli boat, with which people go through the surf and through the high waves, which you see here).
Madras was founded in 1639 by the British East India Company and was the first important English settlement in India. Situated on the south-east coast of India, it has a double monsoon, from the east in July to September and from the west in December. The landing of the ships was often very dangerous because of the violent storms; masula boats were the only boats able to break the surf. These are flat bottom and are made of wooden planks tied together.