Thai trawler questions

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Scraping Paint
Oct 23, 2007

You may have posted this information already but if so I couldn't find it.* I'm curious about a couple of things----

Where was your boat made and when?* What is it made out of?* What kind of engine does it have?* Is it an example of the typical fishing boats used today, or does it date from an earlier type of fishing?

It's always fascinating to me to see the local fishing and utilty boats in the various places I've been (Malta, Malaysia,*Cyprus, Istanbul,*SE China, England, Scotland), so it's neat to see one being used for recreational purposes.

As I've stated before, one of my all-time favorite boat designs is the so-called "sampans" or "aku boats" that were used for commercial tuna fishing in Hawaii from the 1940 thru the 1980s or so.* I grew up there but never bothered to take a single picture of them even though I got to go out on them occasionally to film the style of fishing they did.* Except for a couple of derelicts, they're all gone now.* But if money was no object, I'd love to have the design recreated for my own use although it would be tricky to figure out how to accomodate decent living quarters without compromising the look of the boat.* Here's a shot of one (taken by someone else).

Anyway, I love the look of your boat and I think it's great you're keeping it going.


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Thanks for the questions. *I do not know the real age of my boat. *I bought it from a guy in a muslim fishing village on an island between Phuket and the mainland. *It is not however a local boat. *He told me he bought it second hand around 4 years ago on the east coast of Thailand in a town called Songkla which is close to the border of Malaysia. *He took it north to the narrowest part of the peninsula and trucked it across to the west coast then motored down to Phuket. *My guess from looking at some of the older rotten parts of the decks that it is around 15 years old. *Older than that the boats did not use metal fastenings, rather they had dowels holding them together.

Originally I guess it did some trawling as it had the proper winches and also the re-inforcing boards to protect from abrasion under the transom. *But the guy I bought it from had been using it to set nets and then pull them back up later on. *It had an open hold which probably held big ice boxes rather than partitioning off the hull to make cold holds. *He said he did trips of around 6 days until the boat was full.

It is not a common shape with such a high bow in such a short hull. *The local boats of this size generally have a lower bow wheras the big trawlers here do have a high bow. *The high bow seems to be to accomodate the weight that gets added with ice and fish and it actually gets depressed into the water and the boats becomes almost flat. *The change in the waterline is really quite amazing on some of the big trawlers. *

I bought it more for the appearance and the lines of it than for the condition of it. *I am not in too much of a rush and have no real concern about resale value. *It is to take my family out for weekends and slightly longer trips once the accomodation is done. *In a few years time I would like to take my family cruising for 6 months or a year and this is a trial run to see how they like it.*

It is a hardwood hull. *I am not sure of the exact timber. * For the recent repairs we used a timber locally referred to as Takien Sai which the carpenter recommended as similar in quality and cost to the rest of the hull. *

The engine was a six cylinder 160 HP Isuzu truck engine when I bought it - dry exhaust, external heat exchanger, belt driven centrifugal raw water pump, truck gearbox complete with foot operated clutch and a gearbox dog clutched off the front of the engine leading up to a truck differential which drove the net winches. *

I scrapped all that and installed a 4 cylinder 80 HP recycled Ford Sabre left over from a sailboat re-power we did last year and coupled it to a Velvet drive 2.9;1 gearbox left from another repower 3 years ago. *This is plenty to drive it to hull speed of 7 knots. *Both of these were just sitting in my shop so were free. *In fact it was having the Ford engine that made me think to look for a suitable boat to put it in.

As you understand the challenge is to put in accomodation without altering the lines. *At the moment I am struggling to come up with a god way to access the cabin I plan to build in the fish hold. *I am oscillating between access down from the wheelhouse and a hatch in the centre of the foredeck that doubles as a table and also will give plenty of air down into the cabin.

The picture you have shown is somehow reminiscent of the fibreglass longliners we see here from Taiwan and Japan that also have the same boxy sides to them. *But the superstructure is completely different, I like the open look of the one in your picture.

By the way since I started this project I have had a lot of expats comment favourably about it and wonder why it has not been done before. *If you want any more info or want pictures of anything specific please ask.

Cheers, Leon.

With that high fore-end it looks like there would be plenty of room for a pretty spacious cabin in the forward half of the boat without having to build up from the deck. With regards to access, a design feature I've liked in some of the older fishing boats in the PNW, like halibut schooners and the like, is a companionway down to the forward hold (or maybe cabins) with the on-deck part being a sort of vertical box but with the front side curved toward the pilothouse. I assume the curve was to reduce the shock of any water coming aboard. I don't know if this sort of thing would be practical or aesthetic on your boat, but it's one idea. There is a converted halibut schooner in the yard in our marina, and I'll take a photo of this companionway entrance in case you are interested and are not familiar with this kind of deck structure. It's pretty common so I'm guessing you know what I'm talking about.

The Hawaiian tuna boats were all built locally in the 1940s. Most of them were powered with a single GM 6-71. The boats were quite narrow for their length and they cut through the big swells in the islands like a destroyer. They were beautiful to watch underway. I'm assuming the hard chine and hull bulge below the bulwarks was to reduce rolling as these boats fished in some pretty rough waters like the Molokai Channel.

They were day boats, going into Peal Harbor to net live baitfish (the number on the side of the pilothouse*was their Pearl Harbor access permit number). Then they went out in search of schools of feeding aku (albacore). When they found one they would run the boat directly into it and a couple of people in the live bait well would start shoveling baitfish over the side. The fish would see the feeding tuna and run under the boat for protection. Since the boat was slowly moving forward, the baifish all ended up by the stern. Four to six fishermen would stand barefoot on a 2" x 12" board fastened across the stern just above the waterline. They used short bamboo poles with a short length of wire line and a big chromed unbarbed hook. They'd flip this hook into the feeding frenzy of tuna at the stern, get a bite, and lever the fish through the air into the fish well immediatly behind them. A couple of guys in the fish well would unhook the fish, give a yell, and the fisherman would lever the hook back into the feeding frenzy. They did this with the boat pitching and rolling in six to twelve foot swells plus wind waves on top. No railings, no safety harnesses. At the end of the day the boats would run back to Kewalo Basin between Honolulu and Waikiki where the tuna canneries were and offload their catch. Then they'd do it all again the next day.

They were also called "sampans" which I was told is the Japanese word for plank-on-edge or carvel construction. The crews were almost exclusively Japanese-Americans, usually second generation.* Every boat had a small shrine (Budhist or Shinto, I don't know which) on the rear bulkhead of the elevated pilothouse.* Here's another shot of the boat pictured earlier.

-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 7th of May 2009 11:14:26 AM


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