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Thread: North Korean Fishing Boats

  1. #1
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    Default North Korean Fishing Boats

    Hello, WoodenBoat community!

    I am new to your forums and hopefully posting in the right place. I'm a writer working on a story that takes place in part on an ill-fated North Korean fishing boat, of the sort that has been washing up onshore in Japan with some regularity.

    A big hole in my knowledge is the layout of these boats. Press photos of the boats show that they all share a similar design. Seeing the various stages of disintegration, while grim, is educational for me, but I don't have sufficient background in fishing boats to confidently say what is what. Researching western wooden fishing boats and even not-so-contemporary South Korean boats has not yielded much definitive information.

    1214N_North-Korea-boat_article_main_image.jpg

    I'm specifically interested in which below-deck spaces are intended to accommodate the crew, if any, versus for the engine or holding the catch. Where would the crew take shelter? I've attached a photo here and am including a link to several more (warning: don't let me jinx your next voyage with shipwreck photos) in a Google Drive folder: click here.

    Hoping someone here has enough experience with this type of boat to offer some insight, even if it's informed conjecture, that would help me with my story. I'm trying to do justice to the crews of these boats, who are taking ever greater risks to meet their quotas only to encounter engine trouble and storms on the Sea of Japan.

    Thanks very much for your time.

    Andrew

  2. #2
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    I'll add that you can see someone emerging from underneath the space in front of the standing shelter in this photo:

    1185518.jpg

    But I don't know if this person is crew or rescuer, or if this space (which leads to the biggest opening in the deck) is actually intended for humans or not.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    When we were sailing thru Asia, looking at these style boat boats we found that the crew generally slept on deck wherever they could find a spot. Downstairs was generally for cargo/ stores or fish

  4. #4
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    There is probably an area forward of the engine extending to the bow that can be used for any purpose. How it is used is up to the "captain" on the day of the voyage. As previously mentioned this area could be set up for cargo (fish) and never intended for human occupants.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    Thanks very much, Mark and Navydog. Seems like I am correct in my assumption that these boats are really intended for single-day (or single-night) outings. Outside of an emergency/survival situation, the crew would not go below deck.

  6. #6

    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    Quote Originally Posted by admccormick View Post
    Thanks very much, Mark and Navydog. Seems like I am correct in my assumption that these boats are really intended for single-day (or single-night) outings. Outside of an emergency/survival situation, the crew would not go below deck.
    I don't think he was sleeping more likely the hole man and just coming up from storing the fish on ice, over here it's an extra to be the hole man, the crew helps topside but you sort and ice the fish you work on deck hauling setting and gutting then head below and sort and ice the fish. If there sleeping on that boat it's in the forecastle.

  7. #7

    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    Pure speculation but I might guess long line or hook boat, go offshore set a couple miles of hooks go home wait a day or two haul back and ice fish, repete.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    Thank you, Chris! The boat in that photo was adrift off the coast of Japan, having blown over from the Korean peninsula. So I think that individual coming out of the hatch was either a Japanese sailor investigating the boat or a North Korean fisherman about to be rescued after a very long time out at sea.

    Regarding the forecastle suggestion, one article did mention that deceased crew on one ship were found in a "storage area near the bow of the ship." I am thinking that the catch may typically be stored under the big hatch at midship and the forward area might be more accessible for crew seeking shelter, even if not intended for that purpose.

    Thanks also for the guess on fishing method! I have read that the catch they're after during winter months is squid, king crab, and sandfish--so the same boats are probably configured, equipped, and used differently depending on the intended catch. Certainly an example of being as resourceful as possible with limited resources.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    Generally on fishing boats, the crew sleeps in the forepeak and fish go in the large hold amidships. Looking at the pictures I see no reason to doubt that normal arrangement. The blue box in the second photo really looks like a cargo/fish hold. The pilot house behind it would be for humans, and may contain the cooking arrangements. But in the first photo, the blue box looks to be just a pilothouse where the boat is steered from. If we knew the lines of the boat we could determine where the engines are and that might help.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: North Korean Fishing Boats

    J, thanks for the insight! Yes, the pilot house appears to really be more of a wind screen, not enclosed. I have been curious about the location and configuration of the engine myself. I believe they are relatively small and low-powered engines situated at the rear of the boat, probably controlled with a very small wheel to the port side of the pilot house, as I've seen in some South Korean examples that appear descended from this design.

    You can see a particularly well destroyed example of one of these boats below, which gives a bit of insight into the anatomy below deck, though not of the engine compartment.

    151298153264_20171212.jpg

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