T io Moncho, as we used to call Ramon Nuñez, was not always the manager of Ramon's Village. No, he started his teens like all young men did in San Pedro 25 years ago - as a fisherman. The other day, my Tio Moncho asked me if I remember the sailing boats with their wells, and that set my imagination on a whole new way of life in San Pedro as far as fishing goes.
The sailing boat used to be the main source of transportation by sea. With it the men went to their fish traps, to the city, to Corozal town and even to Chetumal. With the sailing boat they took dried or corned fish to Honduras and Guatemala, fish to Belize City, barbecued or smoked bony fish to Corozal Town, or transported pimento sticks (taciste) and palm leaves (huano or chit) to build their thatch houses.
A regular trip to Belize City took about 6 to 8 hours, to Corozal Town 10 to 12 hours. The trip to Corozal Town was usually done at night because there was more wind, it was less hot, and one could leave San Pedro at 8 in the night and be in Corozal Town by 7 or 8 a.m. and be ready to start selling the fish at the market.
Now let us look at the "wells" in the boats. Every fisherman's sailing boat had a "tanque" as the wells were called. It was a special compartment built inside the boat, more or less at the middle. Some 20 holes were drilled on the boats' bottom in the "well" area and this allowed for water to flow into the well or tank. I always wondered why the water would not fill the boat and sink it. Not so. Fishermen had discovered the rule of gravity and knew that the water in the tank would only rise to the same level as the sea level outside.
A well or water tank was some 5 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep, which provided about 80 cubic feet of space or some 600 gallons of water. Inside that tank one could keep about 1000 snappers alive. As along as the boat was moving, sailing along or rocking from side to side, there was water circulation, and the fish would remain alive. I think Tio Moncho remembers that on very calm days, they literally had to rock the boat, or the fish would all die. And believe me, the Creole people in Belize City would not buy the fish if they were dead. They had to see those tails flapping when you took the fish out of your boat well.
To rock the boat, the men would move from one side of the boat to the other, and their weight would rock the boat. Or they could practice the art of "guindolear" or use a "guindola". A "guindola" (pronounced as gindola), was a rope fastened at a high point on the boat mast and with it a man could cast his weight on the extreme side of
the boat. This would also cause the boat to rock from side to side. On the return trip, the fisherman could plug up the holes in the well, bail out the water, and thus get the boat lighter for faster sailing. For this he had a co11ection of cork plugs or any light wood, which he had shaped to fit snugly into the holes of the well.
And of course, one cannot forget the delight of many children who bathed inside the boat wells either when at anchor or while sailing. For them this was a mini swimming pool or better yet a jacuzzi.- Indeed San Pedro children enjoyed the jacuzzi long before the wealthy people did in the U.S.A. except that they were not in their homes but inside the sailing boats. Twenty Five Years Ago remembers with nostalgia the fun, the adventures and the way of life with the sailing boats and their wells or tanks - the jacuzzi of the rich and famous of yesteryears in San Pedro.