Whenever I think of these ‘tanqueros’ or boats with fish tanks or wells, I think of my Uncle Ramon because he used to work in one of these along with his father and his brothers. Yes, Ramon Nuñez was a village fisherman and made his humble living working in a "tanquero". He made hundreds of journeys to Corozal to sell fish with their boat La Lupita, one of San Pedro's most famous "tanqueros".
There were the regular 20 or 24 foot sailing boats that were used as fishing boats. With these the fishermen used to get to their fishing sites. However, the wire trap fisherman found the need to keep large quantities of fish alive so he could take it to Belize City and Corozal Town to sell alive and fresh at the market since they fetched better prices. To do this, he invented the well that was built inside his boat.
This was a large box, perhaps six by six feet by four feet high built inside the boat or any height that was above the water level outside. The secret is that water would rise inside the well only to the level of the water outside. One-inch hole were drilled at the bottom of the boat to allow water to flow into the well. As a little boy I was always worried that water would enter the boat and flood it until it sunk, but no, the water only came as high as the water level outside. It is in this boat well that Ramon and many other fishermen used to place up to two or three hundred live fishes and carry them to sell fresh at the market. Well, look at the diagram to get a better idea of the "tanque" or well.
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