We live on the coast of Ecuador in a small fishing village called San Clemente. Whether or not a person actively works as a baker, shop owner, construction worker, or really anything else in San Clemente, all residents of San Clemente are really fishermen. Their hearts are never far from the sea! This little town lives on the net loads of fish harvested six days a week by crews of fishermen setting to sea in their small boats to set their nets for shrimp, lobster, and hundreds of varieties of fish that fill the seas here in the warm waters around San Clemente.
We have published several posts in the past about the fishing techniques, fishing boats, and fishermen. Reference, https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/pescadores-fisherman-of-san-clemente-ecuador/ and https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/coastal-fishing-boats-in-ecuador/ for more information about fishing here in Ecuador.
I have been fortunate to set out to sea with some of these fishermen in their small boats several times and each time I am amazed at how sturdy and sea-worthy these small stout boats are as they cut through the waves at high speed. I asked around to see where these fishermen buy their boats and learned that, for the most part, each of the little fishing enclaves and groups have a craftsman who builds and repairs the boats for that group. In the Norte co-operative fishing group here in San Clemente, the master boat builder is named, Oscar.
Oscar works on the boats doing everything from repairing dings, sanding, re-coating with fiberglass, to painting. Every now and then a boat gets too old and needs to be replaced. Then Oscar orders a truck load of lumber and begins cutting, planing, sanding and assembling new boats under a tarp next to the side of the roadway in the Norte fishing enclave.
He does his work Ecuadorian style – right by the side of the road without many power tools, cutting and sanding by hand and making the boats without plans – depending primarily on his practised eye and experience. And eventually a boat is formed up.
For the last month or so I have been watching as Oscar fashioned a new boat, got it sanded down and then coated it entirely with fiberglass to protect it from the elements. The other morning, Mary and I walked up the beach to our home via a different route that brought us by the fishing enclave and I stopped in amazement when I saw the new boat’s paint job.
I stopped in my tracks, snapped to attention, and saluted the boat much to the amusement of the fishermen gathered there repairing nets and visiting. Here are some more angles of Oscar’s newest masterpiece.
Just one month earlier – this was only an idea in Oscar’s mind.
Oscar told me it took about two and one half weeks to cut the wood, shape the bow and form up the boat and get it covered in fiberglass.
Then about two days to paint the boat as it now stands.
I tried for the last five or six days to get Oscar to pose for a picture by his new creation, but Oscar is actually quite shy and did not want to have his picture taken. When I finally got him cornered today, he tried in vain to get some of the other fishermen to come over and pose with him. They all refused and instead heckled him as he stood by his boat.
You can see the crowd of onlookers in the back on lunch break laughing, but paying tribute to the maestro of boat building in the barrio Norte.
I believe you can also see the pride of workmanship in the eyes of my friend, Oscar – the boat builder!
Life is good in Ecuador.