This fishing trawler was built in 1957 in Saint-Nazaire at the "Forges de l'Ouest" yards. It is a “classic” side fishing trawler.
The boat was built for a Lorient based shipowner "Tonnerre-Le Huédé" and launched under the name of "Pactole" (jackpot in French).
The steel-hulled trawler was constructed using the rivet-welding technique: the frame and the longitudinal seams were riveted and all the other seams were welded. This type of construction was last used in the 1960s.
She was delivered to the fishing company Le Huédé of Lorient in April 1958 and registered in La Rochelle. In 1971, she was sold to the fishing company Nicot based in Concarneau, and renamed Hémérica. In 1981 she was retired due to several mechanical problems.
In 1987, she was put in deposit at the Musée de la Pêche and on the 6 March 1999 the Hémérica was donated to the museum and became part of the permanent collection.
- Length 34.80 m
- Width 6.90 m
- Draught (maxi) 4.35 m
- Gross tonnage 202.15 tonnes
- Displacement 360 tonnes
- Capacity of fish hold 120 m3
- Deck surface area 114 m²
- Diesel capacity 52 m3
- Fresh-water capacity 10 m3
- Main engine model Duvant 600 hp diesel
- Speed 11 knots
- Conservation Static, afloat
An average fishing expedition for the Hémérica lasted approximately 14 days, at around 18 hours off the French coast in continental waters. Its fishing grounds extended from the Bay of Biscay to the south of Ireland.
The 120m3 refrigerated fish hold served as a storage for the catch. Two hatches allowed the fish to be lowered from the deck, fishes having been previously sorted and arranged into wicker baskets.
Around 20 tonnes of ice were loaded on board for each fishing expedition.
The temperature of the hold was maintained at -3 °C to avoid the ice becoming too solid.
The fish catch and the ice were conserved on board during the entire fishing expedition, between 10 and 14 days.
The bottom trawler used on the Hémérica was for catching demersal species, that is to say fish found on the seabed or in deep waters.
During a fishing expedition, the Hémérica caught an average of 24 tonnes of fish. The most common fishes were monkfish and hake.
Life on board
The crew consisted of eleven men:
The captain ('patron' in French) was in charge of the crew and the organisation of the fishing.
The first mate replaced the captain when he was resting.
The cook prepared the meals for the crew.
The chief engineer, assisted by a second engineer, both worked in the engine room.
The deckhands, worked together in the logistical chain from fishing on deck to preparing the fish.
Each member of the crew would have had a defined role on board but everyone had to be ready to work together when the fish arrived, to guarantee the freshness of the catch.
Moments of rest were few and far between, and life on board was centred around the job. In the confined space of the boat the seamen had to manage with bad weather, cold conditions and little sleep. They would have had to accept that they would be almost permanently wet and sleeping in their clothes in a tiny space where privacy was often difficult to find.
Life on board was difficult, at sea almost every aspect of everyday life needed to be adapted, from the rationing of fresh water at approximately 10 litres per person for two weeks, to dealing with injuries and accidents that could occur due to sorting the fish out of the trawl.
The mess is a communal area on the boat. There, gathered the crew during their meals and the few moments of free time together.
Starting the boat
The diesel was stored in tanks situated between the fish hold and the engine room.
The starting procedure began by starting the electro-compressor that injected compressed air (stored in the blue cylinders) into the main engine to activate the pistons.
Following this, the electro-compressor system resumed its primary function which was to produce electricity on board.
An auxiliary engine took over from the main engine in case of breakdown.
The hydraulic power unit supplied pressurized hydraulic oil to operate the fishing winch that allowed the trawl to be hauled.
The refrigerating unit
The refrigerating unit was powered by the electricity provided by the generator set and ensured the conservation of ice and fish.
The gearbox modified the speed ratio between the main engine and the propeller shaft line. Thus, ii made it possible to adapt the speed of the latter.
Access to the engine room was only possible through the main deck.
The engine was running permanently, thus the ambient temperature was always around 38° C. The crew often took the opportunity to dry their work clothes in the engine room in spite of the persistent smell of diesel.
The fishermen sometimes worked night and day, depending on the job. Managing sleep was an important aspect of the profession, French labour laws considering that rest should be taken ashore.
At each trawl, the procedures were undertaken with extreme dexterity. The net was dropped lowered from the side and hauled in. The hauling of the net was a delicate maneuver and not without risks due to many cables that could easily cut fingers.
The catch was then sorted according to species on deck and stored in crates. Once gutted and cleaned, the fish had to be put in ice so that it conserved for two weeks until the boat returned to port