by John Welsford - NZ $175

L O A 4.4M - 14FT 5IN
BEAM 1.4M - 4FT 7IN
WEIGHT 90 KG - 196 LBS excluding motor
SPEED RANGE 7-30 knots

 A seeker of ( treasure) trove

I had been asked by an aid organization to design the simplest possible inshore and estuary fishing boat for the people of East Timor, the villagers were dependent upon their boats for their survival, they fish from them, use them as the village truck, ambulance, taxi, hearse and wedding carriage. Boats are their life, and the country needed several thousand of them to help recover from a disastrous war.

Time was short, the people were starving, money was short as were skilled boatbuilders. Local materials were almost unobtainable, and the first few boats were to be built by Barry Wicks of A.B.E.T. (Aussie Boats for East Timor) in New South Wales and shipped up to their new owners so it was with all of these factors in mind that I sat down to design a boat that would fit all of the criteria.

Construction plywood and builders yard lumber were readily available and were consistent with the skills and tools available, and I chose galvanised steel fastenings and builders polyurethane adhesives which were cheaper than the epoxy and bronze normally used. There were a whole lot of 15HP Yamaha outboards in the United Nations store, so we could use those for power. The boat had to be really simple to build, really tough to cope with the constant use and very seaworthy as the boats had to work in all possible conditions.

Barry built the first few boats under his house, I’d designed a longer and even simpler boat consistent with the Timorese preference for canoes and they were a huge success. ( See the “Clarence River Dory” the civilian version of the East Timor “Fat Canoe”

He now lives in East Timor and works with the United Nations Fisheries officer directing a group of locals building new boats as hard as they can go.

David Bliss built a prototype of this shorter design which has proven to be everything that we had hoped from her. Fast, stable, roomy and dry. So successful in fact that I thought she would fit the bill for recreational fishers and duck shooters as well.

I have cleaned up the styling a little, and have given her seats and buoyancy tanks consistent with her five person capacity, switched from the cheap and rusty options for the fastenings to stainless steel and have specified marine glues. This is a “civilian” version if you like, one that is prettier, that will take only slightly more to build but with looks and performance an owner can be proud of.

She has a narrow flat bottom panel with a very fine entry to reduce wave impact, this planing shoe gives her the ability to plane a heavy load with a relatively small motor. The chine panels are well veed to ease her motion in a seaway and the topsides are flared enough to keep her dry inside. This shape is a well proven one and ideal for the shot sloppy waves of the lakes and estuarys that she is intended for.

With the ability to launch off a beach, skim along in very shallow water, carry a large load with a small engine, and still cope with the rigours of inshore fishing, this is a versatile and tough little fisherman. One which will take less labour and cash to build than most, and one which will get you out there. After all, the worst day fishing is better than the best day at the office.

A Trover Tale

The old man sat with his back to the spray and wind as his 14 year old grandson drove the little open boat through the rising chop in the dim light of the evening.

While the fishing had been nothing to write home about, it had been a good summer with the young lad he thought to himself, in fact it had been a good year! The boy had been going a bit off the rails, poor school results, too much time hanging out with other idle types, sitting in front of television eating junk food ( here he spat overboard) and playing with those unfathomably fascinating electronic games.

The boys parents were both working, the choice between family time and paying the mortgage being a difficult one, but it left his grandson at more than a loose end. He'd been in the same trap himself but his own grandpop had been able to involve him in other things.

Memories of fishing the estuary near home with his grandfather lead the old man to gather up the boy one day and run off down to the local lumber yard involving the resentful youth in selecting and loading a short list of plywood and lumber, they then headed off to unload into the space under the house.

It took most of the winter to build the boat, it was nothing extravagant but suited the small rivers and lakes as well as being tough enough for the fine weather fishing along the shore that he hoped would show the kid that there was much more to life than pre packaged food and a square screen.

As the regular twice a week afternoons went on, the resentfulness gradually subsided, and a friendship grew, skill with tools began to emerge and a real involvement in the creation of something together gave them a shared interest that made those building sessions something that they both looked
forward to.

Launching day had been something very special, the small sister got the job of sprinkling the lemonade and blessing the new boat , Grandmum had produced new woolly caps for the intending mariners, and the old 15 hp Mercury had responded first pull ( some of the unoccupied evenings had gone into a very thorough service check to ensure that it would be reliable).  Everybody had a tour around the bay, the boy taking the helm only after his
Grand father was sure of his abilities to think through and act on the boats performance.

Not long after, the fishing trips started, first just a couple of hours at a time, drift fishing at the top end of the tides, setting a long line with multiple hooks, a try with a couple of crab pots and experiments with nets. Then the expeditions got more serious, towing the boat on the old garden trailer for a few hours on Friday evening when the chores and homework were shown to be up to date, and pitching a tent near a prime spot, cooking the days fish wrapped in foil had proven to be a real adventure! The young man had only ever eaten fish as fast food before and cooking his own catch to satisfy an appetite sharpened by a day out on the water put a whole new perspective on life.

During summer break the two had taken the boat up country to a fair sized lake, loaded up with camping and fishing gear they'd spent the first day exploring and looking for a good tent site, and from there on the two had forgotten their age difference, and had the time of their lives fishing, swimming, cruising and reading the covers off the few books they'd taken .

With the summer rapidly cooling into fall, the leaves turning gold and red the old mans thoughts turned to the possibility of Ducks. Goldie, the old Labrador should cope with another season and the pump gun was well preserved in its coating of oil. Hmmmm.

Yup! The boat had been a success, and the boy hadn't turned out too bad either!

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