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சனி, ஏப்ரல் 23, 2011

Rest spells refurbishing of mechanised boats and trawlers



Period of rest: Fishing trawlers are being pulled ashore for repair works at Akkaraigori in Cuddalore.


CUDDALORE: 

             The fishing holiday, stretching for 45 days from April 15 to May 29, will see many mechanised boats and trawlers resting on the shores, instead of anchoring at the jetties.

          For, it is the breathing time the operators get to attend to repair works to make their vessels seaworthy again. Usually, these long sea-faring vessels that have weathered the storm surges, blinding rains, and, pounding and corroding waves might badly need refurbishing. But the extended sea voyage, that might even last 15 to 20 days at one go, would not be as difficult for these fishing vessels as getting on to a short journey to the shore. It is not only a highly technical operation but also a challenging one to pull the vessels over the sands.

            As most of the mechanised boats and trawlers have been made of wooden planks, weighing several tonnes, it would be a gigantic task to manually move them over to the wooden platform, without damaging the susceptible underbelly and the vital rotors. Moreover, the vessels should be properly secured from tilting on its sides or hitting any obstacles. In this endeavour, as has been witnessed at Akkaraigori in Cuddalore, at least 25 to 30 skilled workers are involved.

         It is being executed meticulously, step by step, and any faulty move would cause irreparable damage to the trawlers, as the fresh one would cost a fortune, ranging from Rs. 35 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh apiece. Before the towing operation begins, the trawler is being secured with thick nylon robes from the front and the rear. Then two massive logs are mounted on both sides and two more at the bottom, and all the four are bound by sturdy robes.

         The ends of these robes are again fastened to the metallic cable wound in a pulley which is being operated by a handle. It requires the exertion of at least four muscled men to rotate the handle. While doing so the leviathan wooden vessel would heave itself from the moorings and with creeking noise would hesitantly start its journey to the dry land. Well before it touches the land the alert workforce gradually lifts the logs with wooden supports, again the pulley fashion, to take it to 10-ft high platform.

       Though the process could be explained in a trice, in reality it takes four to five hours for the hull to poke its nose to the shore. After being placed on the elevated platform a whole lot of people, including carpenters, mechanics and painters get on the job. The chipped planks are being replaced, the leaky motors are plugged and fresh coat of paint given. According to Subramanian (70), who has been well versed in such undertakings, getting the weatherworn vessels to ship-shape would take a fortnight of undivided attention.

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