Information & Guidance for Coastal Living At It's Finest

Small Time Fishing

Posted 11-16-2011
Small Time Fishing in Manta

On the beach lie handmade wooden canoas, with small outboard engines often missing their lids. At all hours of the day one hears their popping start as the boats catch enough wave depth to start out to sea.
Beginning high on the sandy beach, two large balsa logs are tucked under the 30 foot boat’s hull, and 3 to 6 men roll it towards the water, quickly moving the logs one at a time to catch the bow. As the waves start to lift the boat some men jump in, and others drag the logs back to the high water line.  The coughing motor and steering helmsman pick up speed and head out for another few hours of fishing. The whole process is reversed on their return, requiring a bit of oar work to keep the hull perpendicular to the waves. It allows for camaraderie time among the men, and certainly seems to require little stress, even though the fish bring low prices. The number of fish they return with is sometimes small, and they often sell them right there to passersby.  I’ve heard these used to be little sailing boats, and you sometimes still see one or two out with their sails up. They always have a pole to hold the lights for night fishing that twinkle all along the horizon in the dark.

Experience counts. One morning I watched four teens launch a fishing boat, and their inexperience showed how much skill many older fishermen have. These kids were working way harder than the adults do, and they took way more time to launch.
Even moving the balsa logs required developed skill. The teens struggled and fussed at each other, while the boat crept down the beach. After they reached the water they realized they’d forgotten the motor and gear, so they had to drag that stuff into the water to load the boat.

Next to them three mature men started later, moved their longer boat to the water, all without visible effort or wasted movement, launched, and were well away a half hour before the boys. The clincher was that one of the men only had one leg.

I kind of wonder if this was staged on purpose to illustrate what experience does for you. After the men were well away, the boys were still wrangling gear, moving balsa logs several more cycles, and then the boat went broadside to the waves, so some of them had to jump back in the water to manhandle it bow to the surf.
I guess practice makes perfect.
by S Statema
Manta, Ecuador
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