Boatbuilding Yards in Ponjikkara

in Image Gallery
Published on: 05 December 2018

Bony Thomas

A writer, cartoonist and illustrator, Bony Thomas was born and brought up in Ponnarimangalam in Ponjikkara island near Cochin Port, Kerala. One of the founding members of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, organizer of ‘Kochi Muziris Biennale’, Bony is also the author of ‘Kochikkaar’ (Kochites), a book exploring the intangible heritage of the various linguistic communities in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. He has worked as a senior cartoonist in New Delhi and Mumbai with The Economic Times, and has also published his collection of short stories ‘Dog space’.

Anson D'Souza, who belongs to the present generation of boatbuilders in Ponjikkara, is keen on introducing innovative materials and methods to the industry. He built a seaplane for his son’s project using lightweight and low-cost effective materials like ACP (aluminium composite panels) sheets, square pipes, engine from an ‘Omni’ van etc. The construction took place in the courtyard of his home, and its various stages are evident in the first set of photographs in the image gallery.


K.A. Johnson, who has 34 years of experience as a boatbuilder, is of Portuguese descent through his mother Philomina Miranda. Johnson’s brothers Biju and Antony are also in the boatbuilding trade, and all of them have inherited the craft from their mother’s side of the family. Johnson builds boats and houseboats using wood and fiberglass, owing to the difficulty in maintaining wooden boats which require periodic annual repairing. He is an expert on fibreglass boats and the materials he use give his boats good durability.


Simon D'Silva builds huge vallams. He employs a method called kalpaathi pani to stitch together the joins of the vallams using coir, and inserts cotton to prevent leakage of water.


This image gallery gives a glimpse of the various kinds of boatbuilding activities being undertaken by these boatbuilders.