Fishercraft is one of the traditional crafts on Pern. Major crafthall is located in Tillek Hold.


A detailed description of the Craft on the basis of the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern

This Tillek-based craft comprises several specialties under the aegis of Idarolan, the Masterfisher. Under Idarolan there are Master captains and Mastercraftsmen; and under them are the captains, who rate their journeyman seamen according to tradition: seaman able-bodied, second mate, first mate. Apprentices act as cabin boys and lure tiers.

Shipbuilding includes construction and maintenance of boats, improvements on lines and sheets, and learning to choose materials for sails. Seamanship also involves basic navigation, understanding of the wind and sea currents, and the study of individual coastlines, underwater reefs in southern waters, and navigable rivers. Journeymen are taught to make maps of the generally accepted trade routes and the locations of the moorings best sheltered from the wind. Chart making is a precise craft, and only those who have fair hands as copyists are trusted to make charts, since many men's lives will depend on them.

Very accurate charts have been handed down to the Fishercraft from their remote ancestors. Modern seamen have ceased to wonder how the Archive charts of the coastal waters are so incredibly accurate and detailed, and are just grateful that they are so. The knowledge that these are original fax pictures taken by the atmospheric probes has been lost since Moreta's day, when the Masterfisher succumbed to the plague, as did so many of his crafters. All that an apprentice today knows is that he had better copy those charts correctly.

Any sea captain will want to have charts with him of his own copying, and keeps archives of sailing dates and cargo carried on board his ship. In the Seacrafthold, a treasured artifact is an antique map reputed to have been drawn by the first Craftmaster (Jim Tillek) and dates from before the Crossing. (The fact that the journey from Earth to Pern over twenty-eight hundred Turns before was also called the Crossing has long since been forgotten.)

The Seacrafthold's archives helped to solve the mystery of Threadfall after the Long Interval as Weyrleader F'lar was able to study the number of clear sailing days the sea captains had reported during the previous Pass.

It is easy to learn the basics of fishing. Apprentices start off tying lures, coiling ropes, scrubbing and polishing ship's wood and brass, and repairing nets. The journeymen do most of the actual work of fishing aboard a boat. They set the nets and haul in the catch, and both journeymen and their apprentices have the messy job of cleaning the fish. A Masterfisher knows how to judge where and when a good run of fish will appear, and will captain a crew to go and bring in the catch. All year round the women, children, and apprentices dry fish to store for use over the long, cold winter.

In a skiff, a journeyman teaches an apprentice how to work with the equipment, tend sail, and use cast nets and drag nets. The rocky coasts abound with shore-hugging fish that are easily caught from small boats.

Master Mactavis, the shipcraftmaster of Tillek, is a perfectionist. He prides himself that every man in every crew he oversees is an unexcelled specialist. If they do not live up to expectation, he gives them the sharp edge of his tongue while pointing out their mistakes. «The lives of men depend on you» is his favorite reminder. «Who knows what storms she'll be in?» is another.

The personality of each man working on a ship needs to dovetail as well with his mates' as his skill does, for the crew that builds a ship usually sails her as well. This way, the crew know the ship, every ring, spar, and board of her, before she hits the water, saving precious sevendays that would otherwise be spent learning the vessel and her quirks. Their own lives thus depend upon their own work.

The wood is chosen carefully from available stores. Sailmakers, sheet makers, and chandlers custom-outfit new ships or make replacement goods for existing craft. Tar and pitch come either from Tillek's or nearby High Reaches conifer forests.

During an Interval they can make ships on the beach, but when Thread falls, they move indoors. The cavern in which they build ships is high, with a slip for sliding the finished ship into water. Prior to a Pass, all ships that are not prepared are brought into drydock for refitting. Pumps already exist in a ship's belly for bailing the hull, but during a Pass, the pumps are used for flooding the deck during Threadfall. Ceramic joints are used instead of wooden ones, which would be eaten off by Thread. A thin layer of lead is hammered around the mast and spars, and a canopy of metal is kept aboard to be drawn over the exposed parts of the ship as it passes through the Leading Edge of the Fall. Standard procedure is to unship the sails, draw the canopy and flood the deck, and sail straight into the Fall toward Following Edge. A ship is not vulnerable for long in the midst of the sea, but it is terrifying even for brave men.

Dolphins, which are respected as another intelligent species, still exist in the seas of Pern, but no one seeks them out. The sea-crafters are taught not to bother them, and if ever a fishing crew catches a dolphin by accident, they let it go with apologies. They know that the dolphins have always been allowed the freedom of the seas, and they never eat them. Over the generations dolphins have tried to reestablish communication with humans, but the dolphineers are all long dead. No one else knows the language, though the dolphins still occasionally help becalmed or wrecked seamen. Most of the original dolphineers in the crossing came to Tillek or Ista, but they had very few apprentices — during that first Pass, not many had the time free to take up that kind of skill. The last trained dolphineer died less than a hundred years after the Landing.

Positions and responsibilities

  • Fisher — their main activity is fishing, although they can also engage in other related maritime affairs.
  • Seacrafter, seaman — they are engaged only in sea transport of people and cargo.
  • Shipbuilder, shipwrights — includes construction and maintenance of boats.


First Pass / First Interval

After Landing they would bring loads of fish, that the Dolphin told the Dolphineer were safe, and seaweed that could be baked, for the Thanksgiving Gathering.

  • Craftsmaster: Jim Tillek (Head seaman, captain, dockmaster).

First Interval / Second Pass

Second Interval / Third Pass

  • Craftsmaster:

Sixth Pass

  • Craftsmaster:

Eighth Interval / Ninth Pass

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