Carribbean Fishermen’s Tale

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Having travelled the Caribbean Coast for a while I have a number of stories to tell, however, there is one that comes to mind and makes me think of the traditional Flatner over and over again….

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Taganga is a little village nearby Santa Marta in the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is a tiny place where tourists come to enjoy crystal clear sea water, unique sunsets in the beach, fish and sea food by the coast, excellent views of the Caribbean sea… however, staying in the place longer than a couple of days I started to realise that the community hasn’t yet lost its essence as many other places do when tourism becomes the driver of their local economy. Before tourism arrived within the last decade the sea was their only livelihood as the land that surrounds them is unsuitable for farming, there is no fresh water supply and very little rainfall.

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It was interesting to share a day with a group of fishermen, the technique they use is net fishing and that is based on “waiting”. Everything is quiet , the group of fishermen chat, play cards in the shade while one of them is in the sea snorkeling to see if shoal of fish are gathering in the catchment area of the net. When the snorkeler gives the signal the moment arrives for all hands on deck. Everyone runs to positions and wrap the net’s ropes and pull, pull strongly to take the shoal of fish. They need as many hands as possible and some other fishermen nearby come to help too. They keep on pulling until they realise there are no fish. Time to place the net again. For that they use a canoe, a hand made canoe carved from one tree trunk. They have been using this type of boats for many many years and still they use them. They are heavy, low sitting canoes with an almost flat bottom. Especially beautiful on the beach beside the modern fiberglass engine boats surrounding them. In these types of boats you can see how time passes, and how much these fishermen are connected to the sea being quite respectful with it.

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After waiting and waiting again the diver shouts again, and finally they got a great number of fish, a whole shoal of “cojinovas”. Time to leave today, it is 5:30 pm and the sun will set soon but there is still a final stop for them to be part of, back in the main beach in Taganga all of the fishermen groups come together to weigh the different catches, then is time to get a proportional amount of fish for each of the participant fishermen, the rest will go for either direct sale there, where the community is waiting for getting the best pieces for cheaper and the markets around. Still in Taganga fishing is the sole means of making money of many families and it was nice to see that the men fishing were a mixture of generations. They are just an organised number of groups fishing and still the familiar and community sense is still there.

Tourism is quickly becoming the main driver of their economy but it will never have the resilience that the fishermen have because of tourism’s heavy dependency on fresh water which daily is transported in trucks. The whole village needs this water and the people who live there have an awareness of the scarcity of fresh water that the tourists passing through generally don´t have hence posters all over the villages hostels and hotels which say “Taganga no tiene agua, cuidala” (Taganga has no water, look after it).

 

Seila Fernández Arconada

Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) 18th of July 2015.

[Re-posted by Jethro Brice 19th July, with minor edits]

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Under the Arches

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Traffic paused on Langport’s Bow Street for an unusual spectacle on Sunday 22nd March, as a Parrett Flatner made its way up the road for probably the first time since the high street flooded at the start of last century. This time the boat wasn’t floating. Instead it was carried in procession from the historic port at Bow Wharf, to the arches beneath Langport Town Hall, where it will be on temporary display.

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The procession went by land because access to the river isn’t possible, as the only slipway, by Black Bridge, is currently not in a useable condition. With the help of the Environment Agency, however, residents hope eventually to see the slipway back in operation, and access to the river made available again for all to enjoy. The boat will be formally launched as part of the Langport Festival in June, when summer water levels provide easier access to the river. Seila Fernandez Arconada and Jethro Brice – the artists leading the project – arranged the celebration to thank some of those who have been involved in the project so far, without whom the project could never have happened.

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Back in Bristol now for a while to catch up with other commitments, it’s good to think back over our week in Langport and the long days of making. It was great to have so much interesting company (thanks Cara for all the help with sanding!), and we will try to post some of the stories we collected on the blog over the next few days.

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As Ian says, conditions weren’t always easy (the ice in the top photo came from the top of a bucket in the workshop) – but it was a cheerful place and the work kept us warm. The last day was fantastic, we got loads done and finished off with the ‘knees’ and locker fronts all in place. It was good to see it starting to take on the shape and volume of an actual boat, and to test all the bevels and curves by bending a pliant length of planed timber against all the ribs, to see if they sat flush against each other. (This job takes all four hands, so we don’t have a photo, but it’s very satisfying to see. We’ll try to do it with a friend on hand next time, so we can post a photograph…)

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Measure twice – cut once

 

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Today we had some excellent advice from the Captain. ‘Measure twice – cut once.’ We’ve certainly been double- and triple- measuring most things along the way, and every decision gets thoroughly reviewed by triumvirate. Hopefully we will find it’s all paid off, and our cuts are true.

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Today was quite a scary one – this is one cut we really don’t get another go at. Thankfully, Ian’s skill with the jig saw gave us a beautiful even curve on one side. Jethro’s attempt on the other was slightly wobblier – if the boat lists (or leaks) to port when she’s done, we’ll know who to blame.

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You can’t see it in the photos, but we also have a stack of parts ready and set aside – tomorrow will be a day of lots of sanding and planing, as we do our best to make the curves all match…

A Four-Seasons Day

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The weather today has provided a perfect backdrop to the drama of starting on the boat. As the bus wound its way down over the Mendips, the Levels were awash with golden light, but by the time we were in Wells it was hailing.

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The stormy skies and half-light of the day made our new workshop seem a bright haven (though not quite cosy enough to risk taking off our coats, hats and gloves)

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We spent an exciting afternoon wrestling with timber and getting everything together for the boat, ready for marking out tomorrow. Then, to round off the day, we had a great session with our friends at the Langport Huish Youth Club.

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The adventure of making the boat has just begun.

Winter’s greetings!

A warm hello to all our friends and followers, this bright winter’s day. We are visiting friends and family (Jethro in Scotland, left; Seila in Spain, right) and recharging our batteries for the excitement of January.

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The exciting news is: we have found an excellent work space and will be starting work on THE BOAT in mid January – we are also looking forward to some more creative workshops while we are there.

We hope you are all having a nice toasty time with your loved ones, and enjoying the spectacular return of the sun.

Best wishes and looking forward to seeing you soon

Jethro and Seila

Some:when gathering and exciting news!

On Saturday we enjoyed another great visit to Somerset, this time to run a workshop more directed to adults in Langport. We wanted to generate a conversation around the project from a different angle, revisiting the history of the Somerset Levels and Moors and looking at poetry, a historical text about Somerset and an image of Bow Street (the main street in Langport) which we found in a visit at the Somerset Heritage Office, to provide inspiration for the discussion.

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The session was really interesting and we talked about all kinds of things: windmills, rivers, water, nature, hydro power, recovery, cycles, boats, history, canals, floods, willow, traditions and many more.

If you couldn’t attend the session and would like to have a look to the resources please do, here isthe link: Some_when_gathering. Feel free to share your thoughts with us!

 

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While we set up the workshop in the Town Hall we looked out on the Christmas market, that we had the chance to visit for a bit afterwards – what an excellent day for it!

We also popped down to visit the river Parrett, in an extraordinary light and  very low water level. This enabled us to see the vegetation at the bottom of the Parrett, which normally gets hidden by light reflections in the surface of the river.

 

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(photos taken from Cocklemoor, Langport)

To finish the post, we would like to share our excitement that we’ve found a fantastic space to build the Flatner!  The build will be taking place in the middle of January!!

So if you are as excited as we are, and you would like to know more about it do get in touch – we might even be able to arrange a visit to the site.

 

Workshops at the Curry Mallet Primary School

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Thanks again to the staff and pupils at Curry Mallet Primary School, who hosted us for two really rewarding sessions. We split the day between the older and younger pupils, and worked in groups across year groups to make sure everybody could take part. There were some really creative ideas and compelling images.
One group focused on recalling how the water flowed over a bridge, another set out a detailed landscape of saturated fields trans-sected by brimming rhynes. Others came up with inventive ideas for the future, including an under-water truck like a wheeled submarine, which would remain stable on the ground and not float, as well as a couple of space-borne craft. I was struck by the detail of some children’s observations and recollections – the precise way water over-spills the raised banks of a river, or the fine feathery branches of pollarded willows strung out along a rhyne.

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What an incredible, talented and entertaining group of young artists – we hope to see you all again!

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Sail making with young people in Langport…

Last week we were back in Langport for another great session with Langport and Huish Youth Club. We heard some interesting stories of young people’s experiences with the floods, some of them happy memories and some difficult.

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It was good to see the different ways people had found to move around and connect with their families or explore the landscape – from visiting grandparents by tractor, to horse riding in knee-high waters.

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The workshop brought up a lot of ideas. One participant’s immediate reactions was to make an image of deforestation – “because that affects the flooding”.

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Ideas became more complex as the session infolded – we’re looking forward to coming back again for more stories and beautiful images!

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