Building a sailing boat requires special talent, a skill only a few people were gifted with. Building a skiff also takes special skills. Now building a fiberglass boat or skiff is a science of casting chemicals and materials into a mould which is another art.
Although Caye Caulker takes the honors in boat-building, we had our very own Mr. Maurice Bladden, married to a Forman girl and lived most of his life in San Pedro. He and his lovely wife, Hilda Forman, had nineteen children, which I believe is a record in Belize. So he was a great boat builder and a great family builder as well. His daughter Helen Haylock and several of his grandchildren are still around in San Pedro.
I will not pretend that I know anything about boatbuilding but I can tell you some of the art by what I observed from Mr. Maurice Bladden who lived three houses away from my family.
A model boat had to be sculptured from which measurements were taken. The nails used in boat building were not round. They used to be slightly rectangular with a slightly blunt end. To bend a piece of lumber so that it could easily take the curves, it was soaked in the sea for several days before being used. Before a boat was launched into the sea it had to be caulked.
Caulking required beating in a thick cotton-looking material along every seam. This was done so that when the lumber was soaked it would create a water tight vessel. Setting up of the mast was at a special spot, two thirds of the way between the stern and the bow. Installing the rudder did not seem a difficult task but it always fascinated me. Trust me, there was a lot more but that was for the expert shipwrights like the famous Maurice Bladden.
Mr. Andres Manrique, father of Mrs. Marcia Nuñez, was another renowned boat builder. Also Aldo Marin, who is still around, used to build a few small boats just out of hobby and some pretty good looking ones to tell the truth.
Mr. Andres Manrique was one of the finest boat builders in San Pedro.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist