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     Fable of the Ferry-Folks II    

Cola can-ing: Thailand

Till 1980s, the Moken people (also known as Sea Gypsies) lived on Moken Kabang (a boat) all through the year, stopping at islands in Thailand and Myanmar to collect water or food. They now live in a village on the Surin Islands in Thailand.

Their diet includes rice, fish paste, chilli, sea cucumber and sea worms. Influences of modernity and commercialisation can be seen as toddlers walk around with cans of Coke and cups of instant noodles.

Importing problems: Tokelau

     The three atolls of Tokelau are protectorate of New Zealand. Until recently, people subsisted on raw fish, coconuts and breadfruit. But now, a supply boat comes every two weeks, flooding them with imported goods and... all the accompanying problems, such as trash and diseases like obesity and diabetes. A change has taken place in their boats as well. Although, the Vaka (handmade Tokelauan outrigger canoe) can last for numerous years, the fisherfolk use aluminum dinghies now, which last for merely 7-10 years. This in spite of the fact that they need to jump out of the boats to catch fish, as the slapping of water against the metal dinghies scare the fish away.

Expedition excess: Bolivia

    Three families living in the small town of Huatajata, Bolivia – the Estebans, the Limachis and the Cataris – have maintained the reed boat building tradition. There has been an influx of money and interest from expeditions like those of Thor Heyerdahl (Norwegian adventurer). He employed the Limachi family to build Ra II, a 12- meter reed vessel, to sail from Morocco to the Barbados. Since then, these families have built boats for nearly 20 large-scale expeditions, including Abora III for setting sail from New York in July of 2007.

There is much I have seen, and much remains unseen yet. My hope is that through sharing and writing about   my experiences I can raise awareness and instigate change.


    (To find out more about the boat-building project visit Isaac’s web page at www.savantsofthesea.com)



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Fable of the ferry-folks II