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close this bookThe Courier N° 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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Building dories in the Third World


This article takes an idea used in Comoros (Courier No 118, pp 83 - 85) and extends it to the developing world as a whole. The author was born on St. Pierre, one of the small St - Pierre - and - Miquelon group, the French territory in the mouth of the St Lawrence, only an hour by plane from Canada, and spent part of his childhood in the dories of the fishermen of Miquelon. He was elected senator in 1949 and took a particular interest in the islands’ 450 fishermen who worked with 220 dories - bouts which have proved their worth in many countries of the Third World since then.

Modernising and developing traditional fishing methods

In the Third World, fishing by traditional means from pirogues, catamarans, jangadas and so on is far wider spread and more profitable than industrial fishing from trawlers. There are more than 10 million artisanal fishermen landing 20 million tonnes of fish to feed the people every year, yet their traditional craft could well be wiped out in the fairly near future if fishing by all national and foreign trawlers is not banned from the 20 mile zone - which is easy for the small coastal fishermen to get to and should be reserved for them alone.

There are fishing villages all along the coasts of the Third World and trying to group the fishermen together near the rare ports would be cutting them off from their roots. So if their way of life is to be preserved, they must have a new kind of artisanal vessel, with a motor, that is easy to beach near their villages. Dories, flat bottomed boats which are very safe out at sea, fit the bill very well.

In 1953, our first freezer factory meant that the fiskermen could deliver their fish whole instead of having to cut, slice and salt it. Later on, the dories were fitted with electronic fish detection devices and, in 1968, diesel engines gradually began to replace the old petrol ones.

Where the dories came from

The mighty River Douro rises in Spain and flows across Portugal to the Atlantic near Oporto. A flat bottomed boat used to carry wood down this river was subsequently tested out, successfully, on the high seas and the name dory probably comes from here.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese and other Europeans used dories to fish for cod off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Later on, the trip was done by sailing ships, with 20 or 30 dories piled up on deck. These little boats are still used by the small coastal fishermen of Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and St - Pierre - and - Miquelon today.

Building dories on St - Pierre - and - Miquelon

In our islands, dories have always been built by craftsmen, who passed their skills down from father to son. At the beginning of the century, our dories were 6 or 7 metres long all told, and they were propelled with oars. With the arrival of petrol engines in about 1914, the length was increased to 8 metres, so 3 tonnes of cod could be loaded in bulk on board and, although engines got very much more powerful over the year, 8 metres remained the most popular length with the fishermen round our coasts.

Before the last war, all our dories were made of imported Canadian pine. The bottoms were 35 mm thick and the 250 mm x 22 - 25 mm side planks were overlapped like roof tiles to ensure complete water - tightness and fixed to the frame with galvanised clinkers. This type of construction is certainly to be recommended in the Third World, where good quality timber is often available, and chemical treatment against ship - worm would ensure that the dories lasted for a long time - 10 years at least. In 1968, six such models were sent out to Madras (India), where the Indian fishermen used them for a decade.

Dory construction at St Malo

Our Committee had the first dories built of plywood, chemically treated to prevent land and sea parasites, at St Malo in 1976. They were the same size, overall, as the dories built on St Pierre, although the plywood bottoms and side plating were not as thick as the pine used there. Since the planks could not be nailed to the edge of the bottom boards, they were clamped, tacked and glued along the whole length of the boat. These dories were used in Madagascar for six years and in Senegal for nine, to the great satisfaction of the fishermen who sailed them.

Installing the engine, the shaft and the propeller

A diesel motor - 20 - 25 horsepower, running at 6 or 7 knots - mounted in the centre of the dory increases its stability. The propeller is on a universal joint on the shaft and raised before the boat is beached. It would also be possible to have a straight shaft without a universal joint and a non - lifting propeller protected by a keel and sternpost, but this is something we never did on St Pierre, as the dories are flat - bottomed boats and easy to hitch onto rollers and winch up the beach.

Cost of a fully - fitted dory

It takes a craftsman about 500 hours to build and fit out a dory and the cost will therefore depend on his hourly rate of pay. If he has modern materials available, the Third World craftman’s costs will be lower than those of his French counterpart, but the price we were quoted by an African shipyard was double the French craftman’s price.

In 1986, the cost - price of a fully - fitted 8 - metre plywood dory made by a French craftsman, with ice - box and a 25 hp diesel engine with accessories and mounting, was about FF 160 000. It will probably be somewhere in the region of FF 200 000 this year. However, the capital invested per man is a hundred times greater for a trawler than for a dory.

The total weight of a fully - fitted dory is 1000 1200 kg, according to the type of engine. An 8 - metre dory which is 2.25 m at its widest point can carry 3000 kg fish on deck or 5001000 kg in one or two ice - boxes.

Advantages of dories

Their uses at sea are well known and accidents with dories are extremely rare on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and around St - Pierreand - Miquelon, where conditions can be very bad. Properly built dories will neither turn over nor sink if they are full of water and they cope very well with the rollers on the beaches of India and Brazil.

In view of the shape and the solid construction, diesel engines are easy to fit - which is not the case with traditional Third World vessels. An engine of this kind used 5 litres per hour, whereas an outboard on a traditional vessel uses 8 - 10 litres, and if properly maintained, it will last 10 years, whereas an outboard rarely lasts more than three.

Test fishing with dories has been carried out in several countries of the Third World (India, Brazil, Madagascar, Senegal etc) since 1968, to the satisfaction of the local fishermen and, provided a 20 - mile zone is reserved for coastal fishermen, these vessels have a great contribution to make to the modernisation of traditional fishing methods in the Third World.