Building a specialized fishing boat at Padang

In Indonesia, there exists a wide variety of traditional fishing boat designs. Most of them are variations of standard types, which were adapted to local needs and conditions. And many of them are not systematically described yet. This article tries to present one of these local boat types used at the seashores of Padang in West Sumatra province.

Boatbuilder and his fishing boat at Padang Beach

Use of these fishing boats

Beach seine netting is one of the traditional fishing methods at the beaches around Padang. A boat will haul the anchored seine net into the sea, circle fish swarms, and bring the other end back to the beach. On the beach, the seine net will be pulled on shore by a crew of fishermen. The length of the seine net is about 250 meters.

Boat design considerations

Fully equipped Padang seine netting fishing Boat, called Piduak

An ideal boat for these conditions has a small hull width and a high stem to cut through the waves crashing onto the beach. It is fitted with a double outrigger to stabilize the fishing boat at sea. Furthermore, it needs a stable hull to be beached regularly without a keel. Therefore, the boat’s basis is a dugout canoe onto which the frame is built. And, because of the necessary beaching, the propeller has to be lifted completely out of the water. This problem was solved by fitting the engine on top of the gunwale and using a long propeller shaft. This eccentrically located position does not influence the maneuverability too much, as the boat drives in a circle back to the beach anyway. 

This special boat type, which they locally call ‘Piduak’, was developed in Padang. I found no information about this type of boat on the internet, and the term Piduak (spelled: Pidua) could also not be found. However, the boatbuilder wrote the name of this local boat type in my notebook. I therefore assume it to be correct.

Utilized materials

Materials for building a Piduak are a wooden dug-out canoe, posts and planks, hemp, and caulking resin.

The type of wood for building these boats

The following types of wood are preferred for building Piduak boats in Padang:

  • Katuka, (Shorea pauciflora King). Also called Meranti wood.
  • Alibakbak (Endospermum diadenum (Miq.) Airy Shaw.)
  • Macemi (Hopea sp.) a Dipterocarpaceae

The wood for boats should be lightweight and seawater-resistant. For Piduak boats, these three types of wood are preferably used. The lifetime of such a boat in seawater is between 7 – 10 years.

Other types of wood for building boats in Indonesia are the following:

  • Teak wood (Tectona grandis). For further description, see here.
  • Bungur wood (Lagerstroemis speciosa). Queen’s Crepe-Myrtle. For further description, see here.
  • Surian wood (Toona sureni). Iron Redwood belongs to the Mahagony family. Toona sureni mainly grows on highlands in tropical regions. It is, therefore, restricted in availability.
  • Kayubesi wood (Eusideroxylon zwageri). Bornean Ironwood. For further description, see here. This expensive wood is mainly used for building Phinisi-boats in Sulawesi.
  • Resak wood (Vatica rassak). For further description, see here.
Resin for caulking

For caulking, the resin sap from the Resak tree (Vatica rassak) is used as a putty together with filling material (hemp) between the planks. For a botanical description of this tree, see above. Harvesting of the resin commences when the trunk is around 25 cm/ 10’’ in diameter. Triangular cuts are arranged in vertical rows around the trunk. The exuded resin can dry on the tree before it is collected. The dry resin will be ground until smooth, moistened with kerosene, kneaded, and used for caulking.

Pictures of a nearly finished Piduak boat

Nearly finished Piduak fishing Boat at Padang

View of the whole Piduak boat. The frame, bow stem, and all other features are built on a dug-out canoe basis.

Bow area of Piduak fishing Boat

Detail of canoe, bow stem, planks, gunwale, and batten

Building a Piduak Boat at Padang

When the boatbuilder and his assistant finish the woodwork, including caulking, it will cost the buyer INR 3 Mio (as of Dec. 2023). Painting, double-outrigger, and 10 HP diesel engine with shaft and propeller will cost separately.

Fishing boat for seine netting from the shore at Padang Beach

This final picture shows the location of the diesel engine on such boats. The fishing boat in this picture, however, has a stern post design, unlike the pictures of the Piduak before.

Lessons learned from building a boat for seine fishing at Padang:

  • Every boat-based fishing application and regional location in Indonesia has l optimized boats in every region.
  • For seine netting at Padang, so-called Piduak boats are used.
  • These boats combine a dug-out canoe and wooden frame- and planking work.
  • Such a fishing boat is ideally suited for the local conditions.

We appreciate your opinion