The coracle 'miracle': How quid fishing boats are made

By Dac Thanh    November 8, 2018 | 08:20 pm PT
Making boats to fish for squid is painstaking work, but they are hardy vessels, enduring for 3-5 years.
The corcale miracle: How quid fishing boats are made

Fishermen and fisherwomen in central Vietnam use a simple basket boat for squid fishing. The boat's simplicity is belied by the hard work that goes into making it, ensuring that it can withstand the seawater and other elements for three to five years.

In Binh Minh Commune, in the central province of Quang Nam's Thang Binh District, 10 families have been making these basket boats.

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To create resilient basket boats that can withstand harsh weather conditions, the craftsmen choose straight, healthy bamboos.

"Weaving a basket boat takes around 25 bamboos, each of which costs around VND50,000 ($2.14) and we have to buy from other places because it is hard to grow bamboo on the sandy land here," said Tran Trung, resident of Binh Minh Commune.  

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The bamboo is split and scraped.

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A sharp knife is used to "shave" the straight bamboo sections. 

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Constrantly working with bamboo leaves the craftsman’s hands calloused. "While working with bamboo, it is common to bleed from a bamboo cut, or suffer small bamboo fragments piercing your skin," Trung said.

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To weave a basket boat, it requires up to 600 long bamboos of similar size. The sticks should be soft on the outside and hard inside.

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Pesticide is lathered onto the bamboo sticks to prevent termites.

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Several pieces of wood are stuck onto the ground in a circular pattern to shape the boats.

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A man tightens the ring and body of the boat to ensure there is no gap.

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To prevent water from penetrating the boat, cow dung is used to seal the holes in the woven bamboo strips and dried under the sun. After the boat is dry, another  layer of cow dung is added.

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Next a layer of Dipterocarpus alatus resin is applied to waterproof and strengthen the boats. The dipterocarpus alatus is a tropical plant species which usually grows near river banks.

"This is done four times in hot sunshine for four days," said Dinh Van Hoa, another resident. "This is very important to ensure the stability of the boat."

It takes around 12 days to make a boat. Each boat sells for VND9 million ($386), and those who work on it get around VND6 million ($257).

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When the squid fishing season ends, the fishermen carry the boat onto the shore. "Each year, the boat is covered with another layer of resin for protection," said Tran Van Minh, another commune resident.

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