Fishing Boats – Vessels of Adventure and Romance

I love boats and fishing boats in particular, they portray a certain romance even though the profession they represent is far from romantic. It is an extremely arduous job as those that participate or even watch documentaries about fisherman plying their trade in tretches of ocean like the Bering Sea can testify.

Fishing vessel in the fishing port of Ouranoupolis near Mount Athos in Halkidiki, Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Promising great adventures

Small craft that are moored or sat on a beach or quayside almost ‘stranded’ from their natural habitat appear to have a greater romantic appeal. It is the promise they hold of possible adventures, taking the craft and rowing or sailing away into the unknown.

The fleet of blue longlining craft and nets of Essaouira, Morocco on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Blue fleet of the windy city, Essaouira

A sailing boat may offer an equal promise of adventure and I certainly do not discriminate against vessels. Yachts at sunset can be especially evocative and there can be few that have not dreamt of sailing towards a fiery orange sky as the sun slips below the horizon.

However a small fishing craft stranded high and dry on a slipway surrounded by nets somehow appears the unlikely vessels of adventure and romance. It may only be me however that feels in this manner.

A sailing vessel on Spetses a Greek island in the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Athens on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Tell me you don’t want to sail away into the Saronic Gulf

Fishermen do not in truth live the romanticised image being portrayed here, theirs is a difficult and often lonely life. Even those that fish local waters in small vessels require to leave early so as to enable them to sell their often modest catch in the markets of the port. They face the extremes of weather everyday, harsh sunlight, strong winds and rough, heaving, rolling seas. Occasionally the angry sea demands a sacrifice, many generations of fathers and sons may have have fished the shores and most families will have lost more than a single loved one to the ocean.

Moored boats in a small port near Calvi on the French island of Corsica 'The island of Beauty' on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Cute boats in a Corsican port

Those that fish from the decks of larger trawlers usually travel greater distances to the richest grounds, spending many days away from loved ones. The size of the craft offer little additional protection against the elements, so far out at sea the waves are still larger and the conditions yet worse. It is a hard, dangerous life which few can cope with and many fail in.

Inflatable dinghy on the Saronic island of Spetses, Greece near Athens in the Aegean Sea on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Infaltable fishing craft maybe on Spetses, Greece

The reduction in fish stocks in recent years has made the task yet more arduous. It has become increasingly difficult for fishermen to make adequate catches and quotas have been installed to protect the plundered seas. Many species of fish from small herring to blue-fin tuna have had their population’s crash, finding new grounds and species is becoming increasingly difficult. This requires travelling greater distances and taking still further risks in search of dwindling stocks.

A small sardine boat in the fishing village of Seeb, near Muscat, Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Sardine boat in Seeb, Oman

The blame for this lies with some of the fishermen themselves, especially those that use huge factory ships to capture whole shoals. Stocks dwindle the food chain is broken and eco-systems die, smaller fishermen suffer most.

The crash of fish populations usually results in search for new stocks of food fish, one such species is the orange roughy which was plundered without understanding of its life cycle. It is now understood to be a slow maturing species and its once prolific population soon crashed too; it will struggle to recover.

Fishing vessel heading to port with the day's catch in Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Bringing the catch home, Barcelona

Many of us will have seen the film “The Perfect Storm” and though it maybe a work of fiction, much of the true story being surmised as there were not any survivors, it seems reasonable to accept its general accuracy. However what sticks in my mind are the words of the principle character played by George Clooney, in which he expresses the joys of captaining a longliner, poetic prose which is definitely romantic in nature.

Vessels moored in St Martin harbour on the French island of Île de Ré in the Charentes-Maritime region on mallory on Travel adventure photography

Leisure boats and fishing vessels in St Martin, Île de Ré, France

The exact words fail me and although they could simply be ‘googled’ in this modern age, their general meaning is sufficient for me. Whenever I see a fishing boat leaving or returning to port, glimpse one ‘at rest’ on a beach or fishermen selling their catch and repairing nets the film often comes to mind.

It details the feelings, sights and sounds involved in setting out from harbour on a clear day, the elation as major landmarks are passed, the open ocean reached and how this all equates to the reasons for being a swordfish skipper.

Fishing boat from the Moroccan port of Essaouira on the North African coast of the Atlantic on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Returning to Essaouira

An image cannot fully portray everything the senses experience in a fishing village. They can be assailed by the pungent smell of freshly caught fish, the sounds of filleting and bartering women mixing with the men to purchase the family dinner. Nets are spread all around the dock, in and amongst the boats, men work at repairing them or fixing longlines, there seems little time for rest.

Essaouira dockside fish market in Morocco on the Atlantic coast of North Africa on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Dockside fish market Essaouira

These pictures always manage to transport me back to the time and place however, whether it was Seeb in Oman, Ouranoupolis in Halkidiki or Essaouira in Morocco. They allow me to relive the experience and my thoughts of potential adventure that each boat seemed to offer. I hope that you find them equally powerful and carry you away to further adventures of your own.

Fishing boat at The Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos, Halkidiki in Greece on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Boat and jetty at the Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece

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Comments 6

  1. carrie breinholt

    Thanks for sharing, amazing photos! Fishing boats also hold a special place in my heart. There’s something about being on the open sea.

    I’m also a photographer and getting ready to embark on my first around-the-world adventure. Hopefully I’ll have a some opportunities to capture a few fishing boats when I stop in Iceland.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Joe Campana

    Was born and raised by the sea(what a contrast with the lakes and mountains I see out of the window now) and share the same feeling about boats. You made me step back in time some 40 odd years when I returned back for the first time to my native Italy and a childhood friend asked his cousin if we could go out fishing in his fishing boat. 4 in the morning was a little early for me, but what a day that was! I should dig up all those Kodachromes and add them to my present digital collection of boats. Will be in Sicily this Summer…and guess what will be one of the subjects I’ll be looking for!
    Thanks and cheers.

  3. Jim O'Donnell

    I’m not sure if stinking fishing boats are romantic but they certainly are beautiful and the seemingly idyllic lifestyle (in fact these guys work super hard) in picturesque spots IS romantic. What a great series of shots. Thank you for the post!

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