Just returned from a visit to Kerala, India (southwest coast). We got out on the backwaters (tourist houseboat tour) but did not do any paddling. However I saw a few things that may be mildly interesting to some of you. At one place I watched the local fishermen doing their thing. They had two types of boats, and I never actually figured out exactly what each was for. One type is a two man sit-on-top, made from three logs lashed together, with the middle log flattened. Before launching, a large net is bundled and lashed in the middle, and then two guys head out into the surf, using split pieces of bamboo as paddles, kayak style. I watched them struggle through the small to moderate surf, broaching, capsizing, getting back on, and finally punching through, paddling hard all the while, accompanied by much yelling from their comrades on the beach. Once out to sea, I believe they set the net, to retrieve later. These boats seemed very heavy - not less than ten guys to carry each one up and down the beach. The other boats were big rowboats, with room for maybe twelve guys, with a few sets of crude wooden oars. They seem to do the same thing as the small boats, but they went much further out with the nets, and then hauled them in from shore. These boats were made with wood planks, fitted and stitched together with homemade palm fibre cords, with the seams caulked with some tropical goop, I assume. Maybe a few nails also. All the ropes were also homemade with palm fibres, as were some of the nets. The only modern acoutrements I could see were some nylon filament nets, and the cheap button shirts they all wore. The fishermen all seemed to live in small mudbrick and thatch huts, and there were no women around, so I think this is a seasonal thing. They seemed to work awfully hard for a pretty meagre catch of small fish, which they divided up.