Boat Model

Photo by Nick Bunn.
Photo by Nick Sertl.

Ceylon Daily Fishing Vessel
Acquired to the Harvard Peabody collection in 1882, this early model depicts a fishing vessel that most likely sailed within the waters of Ceylon, the island of present day Sri Lanka. The model is entirely representative of the vessel’s story. Between two and four fishermen would rise parallel to the morning sun, pulling this vessel into the water from the beach where it remained from the previous day’s work. Using paddles in combination with the single sail, the sewn boat glides across the glistening calm waves, steadied by its outboard support beam. A distinct water splash sounds the arrival of a rainbow colored school of fish whilst also launching the lax fishermen into motion, casting nets as the boat continues to move. Soon fish fill the nets, remaining in the water tied to the connecting stabilizers of the support beam until they are brought to shore to be unloaded and sold. The narrowness of the boat does not allow for much cargo of any kind, thus disallowing voyages to span more than a day, yet this is of little significance for the fishermen. These were daily fishermen and this was their vessel.

Nick Bunn


Fishing Boats of the Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated archipelago in the world. The sea brought these people to Hawaii, and it also sustained them. Domestic chickens were brought to Hawaii, but that was the Hawaiian’s only significant source of terrestrial protein. The Hawaiians turned to the sea to for the rest of their sustenance.

Thousands of fishing canoes similar to the Boat Model sustained the Hawaiian Islands. They were pivotal to the economies of the islands, and fishing ports were the hubs of the islands. Canoe building was a massive enterprise that involved most of the island.

Massive Koa trees were brought down from the mountains, carved out by artisans and then woven together. Fishing and seafaring were so important to the Hawaiians that they became intertwined with the religion and spirituality of the islands. Canoes would be blessed by priests during construction.

Nick Sertl


Content of this page provided by students of Anthro 1218: Shipwrecks and Seafarers, Piracy and Plundering: An Introduction to Maritime Archaeology.