Vietnamese fishing boat, c1980

long wooden boat with an eye painted at one end, in a large warehouse-like space

36 refugees escaped from the turmoil in Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War in this 2.5m long fishing boat. They were picked up in the South China Sea by the ship Kaptai in 1981. The passengers disembarked in Singapore and the Kaptai carried on to Liverpool where the fishing boat was given to the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Refugees faced terrible dangers setting out in small craft like this one. They had to deal with appalling weather and sea conditions, as well as potential attacks by pirates operating in the area.

The boat is made from teak planking fastened with nails, and was powered by a small diesel motor. Vietnamese boat builders paint eyes on the front of the boats to bring luck to the crews and to improve the catch.

Accession number 1982.228


This boat is currently in store. In 2008 it went on display in the Norwegian Maritime Museum(Norsk Sjøfartsmuseum) in Oslo as part of their Boat People exhibition.