The boats of Sri Lanka with Stephanie Boucher and Alex Bienfiat

My friends Stephanie Boucher and her husband Alex Bienfait recently took a sabbatical of a few months in Sri Lanka. I gather the trip was both stunning and an education.

Anyway, they and came back with these photos, for which many thanks!

Stephanie works with websites for a living, and so naturally kept an excellent weblog of the trip. I should also explain that Alex is a Church of England parish priest, and I think took many if not all of the shots.

I’ve paraphrased some of Stephanie’s notes:

The cross on the fishing boat is interesting. It seems that when Christian missionaries came to Sri Lanka with the colonial powers one group that was particularly receptive was the fishing communities. This was particularly the case on the West coast of Sri Lanka: ideally Buddhists do not kill any living creature, but in this otherwise largely Buddhist culture fish is extremely popular, nevertheless. Fishermen often felt they were outcasts from the general community, and found a new sense of identity and self worth as Christians.

The fishing boats at Trincomalee were mostly of these boats were of fibreglass construction, much like those they to others photographed in the west and south of the island. But at Trincomalee they also saw a number of log canoes hewn from of a single tree. Stephanie, who has attempted to carve wooden spoons and other tools, greatly appreciated the skills required to get the thickness and shape correct for these boats. Some had subsequently been patched with a fibre glass lining, and also on the outside in various ways.

The final shots of outrigger canoes are from the former Dutch colonial capital of Galle. The stall with fish for sale, shows the is also picture with fish for sale, showing the boats are still very much in use.

On the beach at Hastings

Last week my son and I went to Hastings beach for an outing and to have a look at the fishing fleet…. Here’s what I came back with… One of the best bits was watching one of the beach-based fleet boats landing. They literally drive straight at the beach, catch a line and get hauled up over rollers.

Mid-19th century photos of Great Yarmouth

Nick Stone has published some stunning mid-19th century images of Great Yarmouth on his weblog, and has kindly allowed me to include some of the more boat-related ones here.

I guess it’s a good time to mention that if you click on the images, you get a carousel image viewer type thing. Underneath each one you’ll find a link to a larger and nicer image…

They remain his copyright, as he has not only scanned them but also done a good deal of detailed restoration etc.

Of this group, I especially liked the folks on the jetty with the lifeboat, and what I take to be one of the famous East Coast beach yawls in the background. There’s a story told that one challenged the America to a race but the Americans declined on the grounds that the boat was a professional thing, not an amateur corinthian kind of operation, though I can’t dredge up a reference just now.

Maybe I’ll recall where I read it in the next few days. In the meantime, please click on the images to enjoy the actors by the boats, the fisherman with his impressive hat and barrow of nets, and of course the fishing boats on the beach by the jetty…

Thanks Nick!

PS – It’s been pointed out to me by boat builder Nick Smith that the vessels on the beach show a characteristic hump in the sheerline forward – look at the line of the top-most planks. In one pic I reckon I can see the famous ‘Yarmouth hump’ in a stern also. Thanks for the tipoff Nick…