January 20, 2007

Long-tail Boats

I found it surprising the lack of information there is out there on (a) the history of Thailand's marinas and (b) the history of these little boats which play such a huge role in the vitality of one of the world's up and coming tourist industries. Here is what I was able to put together from a myriad of sources.

These traditional Thailand Long-tail boats are one of the enduring symbols of the South Asian seas. As we quickly found in and around Phuket Island they are indisputably everywhere. Named 'Long-tail' after their long dragonfly tail propeller shaft, these little wooden boats are persuaded along at quite a stride. This multi-purpose icon is used for everything from sleeping in the sun while being gently rocked by the south Asian surf, to ferrying around both sightseeing and adventure-seeking tourists, to everyday chores and bringing home the fish for dinner. If you look closely at the pictures you can also see brightly colored scarves tied around the bow of the craft. These were tied on by the fisherman or his wife to appease the sea spirits. Whatever the case, we were both enchanted by their austere beauty.
During the tsunami many of these boat,which provide so many livelihoods, were carried off with the devastation. While the localized areas that were hit are recovering well there are still aid groups raising money to replace boats taken by the waves. There is still much to be done to return the beaches and families back to what they were.

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