36 ft 2 in
4 ft 10 in
To the Ghanaian people the canoe is not just a boat to catch fish with; it is their history, a focal point in their lives; children grow up with them as models for toys, fathers become canoe fishermen and mothers sell or cure the fish. The canoe provides continuity and encompasses the hopes of much of their lives. The beached canoe acts as a meeting place and work place.
The canoe is not simply a boat but a concept which permeates many facets of the fishing community's life, including the aesthetic and the sacred.
Ghana is home to the largest fleet of coastal fishing canoes in the world, some 8000 operate in Ghanaian waters catching 70% of all fish landed in Ghanaian shores. The success of this dugout canoe is much in evidence along the West African coastline, with an estimated 4000 canoes which have been constructed in Ghana and transported by road to neighbouring countries whose fishermen operate the canoes within their territorial waters.
The life of an individual canoe is short, on average about six years without major repairs.
There are basically 4 types of canoe in use from the shores of Ghana, locally identified in the following categories according to the length and width of the canoe:
Small one man canoes, 4-5m in length, 40-50cm wide, propelled by single trident paddle operating bottom set longlines and handlines.
Medium size line and net canoe, 5-12m in length, 70-100cm wide, propelled by paddles, sail or 25hp outboard motor operating bottom set and floating gillnets.
Large beach seine canoe, 12-15m in length, 100-130cm wide, propelled by paddles and 25hp outboard motor operating beach seine nets.
Large ali poli canoe, 15-18m in length, 130-200cm wide, propelled by 40hp outboard motor and paddles operating the ali gillnet/driftnet and poli purse seine nets. These large canoes carry a crew of between 15 and 25 men.
This particular boat belongs to the second group (medium size line and net canoe) and would have carried a crew of 4 to 6 men operating bottom set nets and floating gillnets depending on the different fish species being caught.
Presented to the collection by Gundry Marine of Bridport.