Sunday, 20 January 2013

Thai Trawlers

Clean & Tidy,  But The Smell ..... !
In this part of the world cruising sailors quickly become familiar with the local Thai trawlers and squid boats.  At sea they often move in unpredictable and haphazard directions, keeping us on our toes as we pass them off the coast.  They also often work in pairs, trawling a huge net between the two boats, and we do know of yachts that have been "netted" in this way - not a lot of fun !

 At night the brightly lit squid boats provide a challenging maze to navigation, anchored well off shore with booms extended and working all night.  At Buffalo Bay (Ko Phayam) many of these boats would come in to sleep and rest during the day, after a long night fishing.  We've seen the crews paddling ashore to do laundry in the fresh water creek at the northern end of the bay, and also watched as they head back to the trawlers with vegetables from the market and the odd case of us, they anchor here for the easy access to onshore facilities, and they like a cold beer.

Jenny inside the wheel house.
Luckily our friends Eddie and Jenny on SV Te Wai Pounamu were invited aboard a group of trawlers here, and we soon followed.

Once aboard we were not sure who did the most looking - us or the mostly Burmese crew.  Unfortunately many of the crew are endentured Burmese workers, doing it pretty tough under their Thai masters. However the trawler captains and crews made us very welcome, with the Captains keen to show us the boat electronics, radar, fish finder, navigation plotter, but also including hi-fi, DVD player and television. Naturally we couldn't escape without sharing a tipple of spirits.

Each boat seemed to have a mixed catch - crabs, calamari, fish and some helmet crabs, mantis prawns, tiger prawns and lots of other creatures we didn't recognise.  Dead sea snakes littered the decks. We watched large barrels of diesel being moved from one trawler to another, a comedy of errors orchestrated with derricks, spilled diesel and laughing crew ... the whole process was a riot.  The captains were both gracious and generous with their catch, and we came away with squid and prawns for the freezer.  Thailand continues to reward us.

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