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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Story of a pilot who loved to fish

There was a pilot who did not know anything about prawning and catching fish and wanted me to teach him. He came day after day whenever he was not flying to the beach at east coast.He was fascinated at the huge prawns I caught as well as some fishes. He wanted me to teach him. I suggested he buy a boat. It didn't have to be an expensive boat I told him cos after all we had to keep the boat at the beach with no one to watch over it when we were not around.
I brought him to a place where they built wooden boat. He placed an order for a 22 footer wooden boat. He also bought a 20 horse power Johnson outboard motor. It was not a very powerful motor but we could cruise along at perhaps 30 kph which was good enough. We didn't have to go far out to the sea to get our catch. 5 kilometers away from the shore was good enough for a decent catch of prawns and fishes. I think the boat and motor cost about 4k in all. The amount was not a big sum compared to his salary of about 25k a month.
When his boat was delivered to him,we went out to sea. We started from a place near the Bedok jetty and cruise to Changi. I was the instructor and the pilot was my trainee. He learnt fast as steering a boat was peanut compared to the B747 which he was the commander. Anyhow, I had this good feeling about having a pilot as my trainee. From now let's call him Peter.
Peter learned how to fish using a hand line as well as casting the prawn net. He was very excited to learn this new trade or hobby as I would call it. I remember the first time he caught a huge 20 kilo stingray. He was so excited when the fish underneath the boat tugged at his bait and line. He frantically jumped up and stood at the side of the narrow boat ( about 1.5 meter in width)pulling his line. His action almost capsized the boat. We told him to calm down.( Joe,a Malay pawang or fishing expert was with us). It was kinda funny to witness a captain of a B747 getting so excited and almost caused a big accident over a stingray. I said it would be a big accident because the boat could have capsized and we could have been drowned ( we did not have any life jacket on board).
There was another occasion whereby Peter almost caused the boat we were in to sink by not plugging back the stopper (he was in charge of putting back the stopper as he was the one who steered the boat).
 into the rear part of the boat after we came to a stop in the middle of the sea.
On a few occasions Peter threw his sinker into the sea without the fishing hook and bait (how to catch fishes like that?). He was really funny and we all had a good laugh.
I knew Peter because we worked for the same airline. He was a pilot and me a cabin crew. We are about the same age. He came to know about my fishing because I was, back then, very tan due to exposure to the sun. He asked me to teach him how to catch prawns and fish and I agreed.
When Peter started learning his new hobby from me, he was extremely nice to me. He would drive his Mercedes Benz to my place and together we would proceed to the beach. At first, he learned his new found hobby by using my boat. Later, he bought his own bigger boat. As Peter acquired more skills on prawning and fishing he began to boast to his colleagues and friends. He would often tell them he picked up the skills on his own and offered to teach them.
One morning,Peter sneaked out with Joe in his boat and came back with as many as 20 of the red snappers (above picture),each weighing about 7 to 8 kg. He gave Joe 1 fish and took 2 back after selling the rest to the fish mongers at Siglap market. On the second day, they came back with nothing in the boat but a pale faced Peter. I was told they were intercepted by the Indonesian customs for sneaking into the Indonesian water. Joe had to beg the Indonesian authority to let them go. They were let off with a stern warning not to intrude into Indonesian water again.
As Peter became more skillful,he started to be arrogant towards the poor fisher folks at the beach. They used to help him clean and care for his boat in exchange for some old torn fishing nets which Peter would have otherwise discard. Once Peter even demanded the torn nets be returned to him as some of these folks did not do a good job at cleaning his boat. He became cocky and insulted the fisher folks.I felt really bad as I was the one who brought Peter to their territory to fish and store his boat.
Not long after an argument with them, Peter took his boat to Puggol and anchored it there. He later on bought himself a half cabin cruiser and went out fishing with his own friends.
I have only met Peter a few times after the above incidence and we did not talk about the fishing days we had at the East Coast.


Anonymous said...

Wow, BT, those prawns really look delicious! Gone are those carefree days when you could buy a sampan and park it on east coast beach for free. Wonder how much is it now to own a sampan, or can we even own one?

boh tong said...

I used to catch bigger ones like the huge tiger prawns.
Now the parking lots are reserved for the professional fishermen from Siglap.
The pilot's sampan & motor cost around 4k but I dun know how much it would cost now.

Anonymous said...

I remember that was in the 1980's when one could park the sampan in east coast beach. BT, did u own a sampan at that time? $4K in the 1980's was a lot of money. But i guess, to the pilot, it was a small sum?

boh tong said...

Yes I had 2 sampan,one with a 2 HP Yamaha outboard. 4 k to a B747 capt is not too much hor?

Veron Zhen said...

I despise ppl who forget the root of their successes. Peter the Prick.