Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big sea

Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big sea


One weekend afternoon, the water surface at the anchorage in Hai Tien village (Thuan An town, Phu Vang district) was splashing in the sound of various model fishing boats. The owners were standing in the water up to their ankles and intently controlling the boats to speed up and avoid obstacles. The model boats on water did not only attract players, but also caught rapt attention from a flock of onlookers. Occasionally, there was a buzz in the crowd when the boats accidentally had crashes.

Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big seaInstalling the electrical system for the fishing vessel’s engine

Nguyen Huu Anh (Tan Binh village, Thuan An town) said, this hobby has been around for quite a while, mostly among young people in the seaside villages. At first, it was sparsely taken up by a few, only to spread far and wide when clubs were formed for those with the same passion.

When in Thuan An town, it is not difficult to ask about model fishing boats because many young people own model boats customized to their likings, from the gillnetters to seiners and vessels made up of steel or composite hulls. A model fishing vessel is about 1m long, weighs approximately 10kg, and reaches a speed of 20-40km/h on water.


Owning model fishing boats is a sophisticated and demanding hobby but reflects the sea villagers’ culture and meanings of life. “We were all born and raised in the seaside, so we see and play with fishing boats regularly. Almost all families own a fishing boat, so scale models have become popular to the young in the seaside.” Nguyen Huu Anh shared.


Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big sea


The scale model has a simulated number plate just like the real boat.

Like with many other hobbies, once becoming passionate about model fishing vessels, the owners will always think about them, from the shapes of the hull to the engines and other special gears. In addition to the hull’s look, players also pay attention to its speed as well as how far the boats can get offshore. A professional owner means fully equipping his model fishing vessel just like a real one.

“Model fishing boats are our passion, and we equip them with up to 99% similar gears as those found on a real boat, from the wooden, steel, or composite hull to built-in engines, lights, cooling compartments, fishing nets, number plate ... When more people own model fishing boats, everyone wants to upgrade their boats to show originality and uniqueness”, Tran Van Guyn (Thuan An town) said.

Building boats to reach the big sea 

When talking about model fishing boats, many people in Thuan An pointed to Tran Van Cuong's house (25 years old, Hai Tien village). Cuong is one of the "professional" players in town. At the age of 10, Cuong started playing and building model fishing boats. Back then, his fishing vessels were mainly crafted from discarded foam sheets. Gradually, Cuong upgraded the shipbuilding materials and handcrafted his own boats. 


Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big sea

Adjusting the engine before launch

Handcrafting a boat takes enormous time and effort, yet the young man with little schooling is both a designer and a builder for battery-powered and two-stroke engine model boats. Using seemingly useless pieces of wood, Cuong has successfully crafted lifelike boats. “I have just completed 2 boat orders for buyers in Hue, each is worth about10 million VND. Now, I’m ready to receive new orders. Currently, model boats are commonly bought for household decoration,” Cuong excitedly shared.

Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big seaThe boat is being controlled by a remote device

Tran Van Cuong said that it would take at least a month to build a model boat. The crafting process of a model boat is no different from that of real boats in the harbor. Cuong bought wood pads from shipbuilders, designed, cut, assembled, painted, and finished all the equipment on board. “I had no schooling on shipbuilding. Just because I had a deep passion for fishing boats, when I was a child, I often followed dad to the shipyard and imitated the workers. I bought necessary devices like engines and controllers online and reused discarded wood from shipyards. At first, I tried making a model boat of Styrofoam until I mastered the skill, then, I switched to making wood or iron boat hulls. Although I have always craved for making model boats since childhood, as a son of the sea, I know my dream is to design real and modern boats to reach the big sea with enhanced fish catching capacity,” Cuong shared.



Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big sea

Model fishing boats are the passion of youngsters in the coastal areas


Model vessels are spreading far and wide, and in Thuan An town, not only Cuong but many other young people are also designing their own boats to entertain and fulfill their dreams.


Model fishing vessels & the dream to reach the big sea

The model boats that simulate real fishing vessels.

“We also set up a group of model boat fanatics on Facebook to exchange design experience. The hobby of building model boats is not only a leisure pursuit, but also our responsibility as sea villagers to maintain our ancestor's profession. Crafting model boats is to dream of reaching out to the big sea,” Nguyen Huu Anh revealed.

Story: Le Tho - Photos by Quynh Vien

Design: Minh Quan