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One of the most fascinating experiences since living here in Manta is watching the handcrafted fishing yachts being built and launched by local Ecuadorian builders. I live just a thirty minute walk from some of the most skilled yacht builders I have ever seen. The key is all the “fishing yachts” are hand built from the bottom keel up with no factory design, no factory robots, no expensive machinery, no expensive hand tools and all done with manual labor from skills past down from generations of local Ecuadorians. And, all this work is completed outside in the hot sun on the sandy beaches. No warehouses and for the most part no factory made assembled parts. If you’re a boat lover or not you have to be fascinated by the skill and workmanship displayed in building a fishing yacht of 30’ to 80’. All made with manual labor and with limited tools. Probably the most expensive tool is the chainsaw. Throughout my adult life I enjoyed having boats from 16’ to 30’ both power and sail. Most of my years have been cruising the lakes and coastal waterways along the east coast from the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. I once took a tour of the Hatteras Yacht plant in New Bern, North Carolina. The machinery, tools and equipment used to make a 35’ yacht was amazing. And this was back in the 80’s. However, here in Manta, Ecuador in 2012 the machinery, tools and equipment is minimal. A chainsaw is used to cut ALL the many different parts for the yacht. Then comes the ax and chisel followed by hammers and mallet. But I would bet the yachts being built here will far out last any of the yachts built back home. Once these fishing yachts are built they will be used in the fishing industry here in Manta which is a leader in the world for supplying fish and especially tuna. The yachts are built with products from Ecuador. Most of the wood comes from the forest around Esmeraldas on the Ecuador coast with the caulking coming from the husk fibers of the coconut shell used to wedge between the wooden hull planks. The wooden keel beam is one solid piece about 18” x 18” by 30’ up to 80’ notched out with a chainsaw for the hull supports, prop and rudder. Hull supports are naturally curved wood pieces handpicked for their curvatures and size rather than piecing different sized wood or wet bending the wood into a curved piece. All the planks are individually cut for the yacht. The caulking is made from the fibers of the outer coconut shell hand twisted to made a small rope like weave just prior to its use as caulking between the wooden planks. Every nail is hammers in by a worker followed by an individual with a mallet and tool to countersink each and every nail. Then the painting and/or staining is with brushes and rollers. No spray guns, etc. Seriously, I have been going to see the yachts being built about every other week to watch the progress to include launching which again is all manual labor except they do use a front end loader to pull and push the yacht from its sandy beach building berth to the edge of the ocean at dead low tide. Then they wait for Mother Nature to come in later in the day with high tide to float the yacht from its transporter into the Pacific Ocean to begin its place in the fleet of fishing yachts. AMAZING TO WATCH. For the passed several months I have noticed yachts being built out of fiberglass. The yachts are framed in wood then covered with a 4 x 4 sheet of fiberglass and then covered with numerous layers of fiberglass cloth hand rolled with several layers over the entire yacht. The keel is still a 18" x 18" x 30' to 80' wood beam molded and sealed with fiberglass cloth. The complete yacht is hand rolled.
Check out the pictures and information regarding the “Ecuadorian Boat Building” here in Manta, Ecuador.