I am not a boater nor do play one on TV. My father lives on a boat in California’s San Francisco Bay. When I lived there, he wanted to teach me boating but I was never interested in more than riding along. To any boaters reading this, please bear with me as I may use terms incorrectly. Perhaps you will get a nice laugh while you read how a layperson writes about boats.
Puerto Lopez, Ecuador boat maintenance
Puerto Lopez fishermen and tour boat operators perform minor hull maintenance during extreme low tides in a shallow area on the south end of the beach. Spring tides, when the low tide is lowest just after a full or new moon, provide the best time to do this maintenance. That ensures the most possible time for maintenance before the water rises again. The first days after full or new moons are when we see the most boat maintenance.
|Painting a shrimp boat hull|
Southern Puerto Lopez
I spent a few days after the last full moon watching the tides and the boat maintenance at the south end of the Puerto Lopez bay. It was interesting to see the dry docking process during the receding tide, then the subsequent float while the tide returned.
The entire section is bordered by a rocky sea ledge and is shallow, making it an ideal area for low tide dry docking. In fact, tidal pools created during normal low tides are popular family swimming areas. I wrote about them here. During spring tides, the tide pools are dry, as you can see below.
A few observations that I had while watching are expanded on below.
- Boats dock on sand, avoiding rocks
- Boats are anchored to boulders during maintenance
- Workers do not have the luxury of a lunch break
- Boats with long enough keels spend multiple tide cycles to paint the entire keel
Docking on sand
The sea floor where the boats dock is hard sand. Scott and I walk around at low tide, having to be careful of rocks and bits of broken coral from nearby reefs. With experience, the boat captains know right where to dock to avoid the rocky sea floor.
|Rocky sea floor further from shore than the sand where the boats are docked|
Anchoring to boulders
Operators anchor their boats using long ropes tied to huge boulders.
|One of the ropes anchoring the shrimp boat|
As the tide comes in once maintenance is complete, people position themselves near each boulder to untie the rope once the entire boat is floating and ready to move out.
Painting both sides of the hull
The keel is used to lean the boat in one direction so they can paint half of the boat hull.
|Day 1: Maintenance begins before the tide completely recedes|
During the next daytime low tide, they lean the boat in the other direction to paint the other half.
|Day 2: Boat leaned the opposite direction to complete maintenance|
No time for lunch break
With the clock ticking before the tide comes back in, there is no time to leave for lunch so it is eaten onsite. I have seen families with small grills to cook food, takeout delivered, and food bought off of mobile food carts.
Fortunately for boat owners, if they run out of time to complete all required maintenance, another spring tide will return with the new moon.
Did you notice any incorrect terminology? Please tell me in the comments section below.
Click here to read more about Puerto Lopez.