Fish­er­man sees GPS as god­send

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - People - She­ria Brath­waite

by she­riabrath­waite@na­tion­news.com

“For ex­am­ple, if you wanted to fig­ure out where home is you would put the ra­dio to your ear and turn the dial to the sta­tion; if you heard peo­ple talk­ing you were off but if you heard a lit­tle static and then si­lence that was the di­rec­tion for you to fol­low,” he ex­plained.

Har­ris, a for­mer Christ Church Boys’ School stu­dent, said that “was the old time way but these [GPS sys­tems] here made things eas­ier to the point that you could learn the sea as a big man, when back in my time it was some­thing young boys had to learn from the older gen­er­a­tion”.

He said the GPS sys­tem in­di­cated how far one’s boat was from land, which coun­try’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters you were in, water depth, and the speed and di­rec­tion of the tide.

The vet­eran sea­farer said hav­ing those de­tails at one’s avail­able al­lowed fish­er­men to find fish eas­ier, mark their favourite spot and re­turn with­out dif­fi­culty, which saved time in plan­ning sea trips. He also added that the GPS map made nav­i­ga­tion eas­ier at night and fish­er­men could de­ter­mine the safest course home.

“The co­or­di­nates are al­ready set in the sys­tem so all you have to do is punch in where you want to go. The hard­est thing is learning how to utilise the com­pass be­cause the sys­tem works hand in hand with the com­pass.

Use bear­ings

“Let’s say you wanted to go to Tobago. From here to there, as you can see, is 136 miles and 227 bear­ings. You use the bear­ings from the map to guide you on the com­pass.”

Har­ris, whose navel string is buried in En­ter­prise Christ Church, fell in love with the sea as a young boy play­ing in Oistins.

He has been the cap­tain of his long line boat for the past nine years and has two crew mem­bers. He said he spends ten to 12 days at sea and his main catch, tuna, is sup­plied to the ex­port mar­ket.

“In the late 1980s when I started fish­ing, it took a strong per­son to go out fish­ing. There were no ice­boats, only day boats, and we used to keep the bait in a bas­ket and if you can’t han­dle you would vomit. Plus the diesel back then used to smell strong and it made men vomit too,” rem­i­nisced Har­ris.

(Pic­tures by Len­nox Devon­ish.)

Fish­er­man Percy Har­ris demon­strat­ing how the GPS sys­tem is used.

The cap­tain of J Alexan­der uses a 22-mile spool line to catch fish.

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