Running with the Wind, Threading the Needle

It was one of those hot, hazy, humid August days.  The air was palpable, visible like a gauze scrim flown down from heaven.  Out on the bar, the turning tide created air enough for the dhows to trawl for fish, exciting the sea birds and suda’s* like me – enthused by the romanticism of these ancient craft running with the wind and threading the needle back through the modern fishing fleet of Negombo.

Coming toward the city (on the first of my ‘farewell’ trips**) via a long-neglected coastal road, I was bowled over by the scene:  the sea-going boats all tied up and tidied,

Running the Wind, Threading the Needle 1

while just beyond the arms of the bay, a real-life re-enactment of the timeless.

Imagining myself straddling the slightly chaotic movement of travelling by boat, I hadn’t thought to bring a tripod, so my poor camera was pushed to the limit of its hand-held stability, and because I’ve tried to dispel the haze, there’s a nasty edge to these shots, but bear with the quality, please, and try to imagine those spare, single masted outriggers tacking back and forth across the bar;  the silent shrilling of sea birds whirling about, waiting their opportunity to snatch an easy meal from the nets;  the dhows joined from time to time by a motorised dinghy, its helmsman reeled in by the obvious pre-lunch success of his rigged and masted confers.

Full, one by one the dhows began to head home DSCN0278 - Version 2

threading the needle through the tightly packed fleet

Running the Wind, Threading the Needle 6

… back toward the market
Running the Wind, Threading the Needle 7

This is another response to this week’s On the Move challenge.

*  Sudha – A white person (not entirely without irony)

**  Related Posts:
The Enchantment of  Green
A Passing Squall?



23 thoughts on “Running with the Wind, Threading the Needle

  1. SUPER !!! – absolutely terrific ! Are all the dhows sideriggers ? Is there any problem with the area’s becoming fished out ? Why do I keep asking you these questions ? – because I am full of curiosity, that’s all. 🙂

  2. Oh Meredith, brilliant! These timeless ancient craft, doing their thing so gracefully, I do so hope they continue forever, no doubt catching fish the motor boats cannot 🙂

  3. There’s little optimism for these folk, Christine. The miracle is that they survive to this day – both here and in India – as in other “third world” countries. We have too much to answer for, I fear. That these men persevere is testament to their grit – and the necessity to feed their families.

    Hope you’re having a happy weekend – with children and grandchildren for choice 🙂

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move (escalators) | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

  5. How sad they are being fished out…we have some of that happening here too. Commercial fishing giants take what they want when they want it

  6. Love the imagery … “The air was palpable, visible like a gauze scrim flown down from heaven” – makes it so tangible. Such delicate looking craft, finely tuned to run with the wind… thread the needle – wonderful terminology.

  7. My only encounter with dhows was in Zanzibar. They are so exotic and these men who sail them seem to be at one with them. Beautiful and poetic description, Meredith. I will now associate “thread the needle” with them. 🙂

    • I don’t know whether it’s the correct terminology, Lynne – but that’s how it seemed to me, as they made their way through the parked fleet – you can see how tightly packed it was in some places. 🙂

  8. Beautiful post Meredith! Perfect for the challenge. The back story adds a touch of poignancy. Cross border politics is another thorn in the sides of these poor fishermen, and ours.

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