Early most mornings we can stand in our living room and look out over the Pacific to see the local fishing boats from the Gorgona fishing fleet heading east across the front of our resort, heading to their fishing grounds for a day of fishing. Later in the day we can hear the constant purr of outboard motors as the fleet returns across the front of our resort to Gorgona. Some travel far out to sea while others are just off the shore. From time to time, a fish boat with a heavy escort of large black birds will pass by with the operator throwing some fish scrap out of the boat as they travel.
I decided to have a look at what went on in Gorgona as the fishing fleet arrived back with the day’s catch. A short 15 minute walk down the beach took me into the middle of the busy activities. The whole fishing community turns out, from small children to aging adults, on the beach to greet the returning fishermen. If you look carefully you will see that the chaotic activities on the beach are actually quite well controlled. A man on the beach directs each boat, one at time, to run up on the beach in a designated place. The boat takes a run at the beach from about around 100 yards out, building sufficient speed to shoot the boat up on the sandy beach some 10 or 20 feet. The boatman tilts the outboard motor out of the water at the last-minute as the boat hits the beach.
Once the boat has stopped, several men gather around the back of the boat to remove the motor and carry it up on the beach to a secured locker. At the same time, a crowd descends on the boat to find out how successful the day’s fishing was. They bring brightly colored plastic buckets to load the catch and separate the different kind of fish. Once the fish is loaded others, two at a time, haul the filled buckets up the beach to a large assembly line cleaning station, where some fish are fileted.
Once a boat has been unloaded, a group of 10 or so people gather on each side of the boat to drag the unloaded boat higher on the beach so it will be safe from a high tide. They place a couple of round rubber or plastic floats on the sand on each side and actually drag the boat up the beach over the floats, making the job easier. It reminded me of some of the programs on TV where they were trying to illustrate how the huge stone blocks were hauled up the side of the pyramids in Egypt using round wooden tree trunks.
The chaos continues until all the boats have been brought ashore, unloaded and hauled up the beach to safety. I am struck by the total community involvement. The work could not be done if each boatman had to work individually. The crowd on the beach approached 75 or 80 people to handle around 25 boats. It is an amazing process to witness.
As we travel westward down the Pacific to other towns there does not seem to be any other significant fishing activity to see. The fishing fleet from Gorgona is the only sizeable fishing operation we found. It was nice to know that the fresh fish we enjoyed in restaurants up and down the coast, were supplied from a place so close. If you have a few minutes, take this interesting local activity in. You will find it fascinating.