|The finished painting of the shipyard in Endau. Inset: Starting to put paint to paper.|
Luckily for me, the owner of Cahaya Empat Slipway Sdn Bhd, Law Ah Wah, who is in his 70s, did not mind my intrusion. I explained to him that I wanted to paint one of the fishing boats that was undergoing repair and he agreed.
There were several fishing boats that were undergoing maintenance work that day. Under a shade at one end of the shipyard, a timber fishing vessel was being built. The boat that I intended to paint had undergone repairs and maintenance for some time and would be launched in a week. Another boat had just arrived and waiting to hauled onto land.
The shipyard uses several diesel-powered winches to tow the vessels onto a trailer which sits on a rail track before being hauled onto land. Once the boat is landed, it is cleaned and dried before the hull is stripped and checked for rotting parts and those that needed replacement.
For timber bottomed boats, planks of hardwood are usually joined side-by-side using a strong adhesive-sealant called damar. A type of fabric thread is inserted into the gaps between the joints before damar is applied. This is to not only strengthen joints but also make them waterproof. Once the joints are cured and smoothed, the hull is painted, and the vessel launched into the sea to continue its seafaring duties.