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Fishing Boats

Orus of various sizes are still widely used for fishing. Their narrow shape allows them to cut through the waves. The catamaran’s thin, deep and narrow shape and floats increase their stability , so reducing the risk of capsize in the often high waves and rough seas. They are manoeuvred with a long oar that is also used like a rudder to steer in through the surf when beaching. The oru fisherman stands whilst rowing. When he has reached a fishing ground he anchors and may set a net or use a rod and line. Originally of wood, they are now mostly of fibreglass.

Fibreglass outboards are increasingly replacing catamarans, especially after the terrible 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. These are more expensive and need 2-3 crew. The outboards are powered by kerosene engines so incur additional running costs although orus are now also powered by  outboards.

Tank Boats

The tank boats operate out of harbours as they are much larger and thus not usually beached except for repairs and maintenance. They  are crewed by 8-10 fishermen and are at sea for several days fishing in the deeper waters surrounding the island  and the Straits between Jaffna and Southern India.

By the early 2000s tank boats were operating from Hambantota, Tangalle, Trinconamalee, Galle to name just a few tank boat bases.

Fishermen setting off with provisions  to join a tank boat fishing trip.

Salvaged Tank Boats near Galle awaiting repair following the 2004 Tsunami - South West coastal area

Small Tank Boat, Jaffna Peninsula

Larger Orus beached near Galle - Tank Boats moored in background

Oru under sail, Jaffna Peninsula

Views of Hambantota Fishermen’s Beach - As with many fishing beaches there is a mixture of orus and fibreglass outboard boats. Some of the orus are now powered by small outboards.

Fishermen’s Beach near village on North West coast

Godawaya, Hambantota District, Fishermen’s Beach

Oru  at sea

Beached orus and outboards, Dikwella Beach, near Matara