View Full Version : this months wooden boat magazine - haiti
03-21-2006, 10:44 PM
I was looking through this months wooden boat magazine and in particular at the sloops built in Haiti. I was very impressed by the standard of vessel being built and with such simple tools.
It had me thinking that a more affordable way to get such a boat would be to have it built there, and whilst there provide a 200L drum of epoxy or 2 and mix the quite impressive sloops with modern resins to create a more durable boat.
Some of the sloops were up to 50ft long and seemed very impressive and had it seemed to me to be traditional lines.
I do not know what it is like to live in Haiti, but think it is fair to assume since the country is dirt poor that labour is dirt cheap. The article talked of timerames of a few months to build a large sloop.
comments anyone, n peter evans
03-21-2006, 10:47 PM
I thought it a great article to see what people can do with so little. I'd like to see more of that kind of article.
Recycle , recycle, recycle.........
03-21-2006, 10:51 PM
I was also impressed....but I'd sure buy them some better lumber, especially framing stock....and some better hardware.
Those sapwood limb frames and #4 rebar drifts can't last more than a few years. That's why the rebuild business is so active.
03-25-2006, 12:56 PM
I was in Haiti, in Cap Haitian, in 1985 for a month on a trading sloop out of Florida; a 45 ton steel boat with a 14' x 14' cargo hold full of outboards, miscellaneous gear, scraps and junk from the US which we sold in Haiti. In a country where day labor was maybe a buck a day there were so few goods available that 14" x 1/2" rusty old bolts sold for a buck each. They were sold to a boatbuilder for keel drift bolts. My guide, sent to get a price on lumber from the lumber store (a 20'x12' building) said a board was $7. My point is that a board cost a week's pay. There is no lumber left in Haiti.
I have a photo of a beach on a Bahamian island with a scarphed section of Haitian keel from a recent wreck which wasn't as long as 3'. That doesn't make a very strong backbone. The water by that beach was littered with Salvation Army clothes, no doubt the cargo. I remembering wondering if any were deceased crew's clothing.
A typical 20 ton trading sloop had no bulkheads. A bilge pump consisted of pieces of wood made into a pipe a little bigger than the diameter of a cannonball that was installed through the deck and down into the bilge. The crew stood on deck (loaded to the deck beams with cargo, thats where they always were) and would throw a cannonball attached to a rope down the pipe and quickly haul it up. Other than that pump the equipment was a rode and stone killick, and maybe a flashlight; no charts, compass, etc.
The article was neat to read. It was beautiful to see working sail there but it is not an easy life. Many sloop rigged skiffs fish mornings and come in before the afternoon sea breeze freshens. One day I saw a boat with no mast and the fisherman had a boy holding his shirt open to the onshore breeze as he slowly sailed into the harbor. They sail out at dawn downwind on the last of the night land breeze and fish til the sea breeze makes up. I told the captain what I saw and he said "using a boy for a rig, that's nothing, one time I was here and I saw a guy with a bush for a rig. He had a big bush stuck in the bow of the boat. He drifted out at dawn, fished a ways out and with the wind blowing on the bush sailed in at noon." So when the article says they use what they have, you need to consider what that means before deciding whether you want them to build you a boat. I need to write more of these stories down.
The Haitian people are a proud and beautiful people. I saw great honesty in the people. I honestly believe the laws of physics are altered in Haiti by the power of Haitians' faith. As the handcart says "Avec diem tout c'est possible."
One day I got a ride from a French lady who had a hotel. She told me of having the best carpenter build her a bookcase. She described showing him a drawing that she carefully made using a ruler, stressing that he was to make the bookcase straight and with all square corners like the drawing, and not make any part crooked. He got started and she watched over him and she said it was all very good. When he was almost finished, she had to go out and she told him to make it like the drawing. When she got home she saw the last bit come up short, and pieces were fitted tilted and crooked. Exasperated, she said to me that she asked him why he did not make it like the drawing.
"Madame - God, in all the creation, He could not make the straight line. How can you expect me to make the straight line, madame?
[ 03-25-2006, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Tim Mooney ]
03-25-2006, 03:59 PM
Thanks Tim ,great story smile.gif
03-26-2006, 01:31 PM
With wood that expensive and the people in such need maybe that's what we should do with all the old wood boats no one up here wants- load 'em on a frieghter and send 'em to Hati- might be cheaper than a chain saw and dumpster, and every non rotted piece of wood wil get re-used.
You look at a trash dump today in the US and see construction waste of short pieces and things like pallets and it makes me wonder what kind of "wealth" we squander in the 1st world.
03-26-2006, 05:39 PM
All very good point Tim, I have seen previoulsy that all the forests have been cleared in Haiti a long time ago. Not a good thing. As for history, the Haitians kicked out their colonial masters in 1805, the europeans and the americans then enforced sanctions on them until they had paid there debt to the French colonists who were 'hard done by'. This lasted to mid 1800s.
This may help to understand why the county has been so impoverished for so long. Compounding debt, instability etc etc.
anyway I am getting off topic. I live in Australia, and have so far built three 14ft canoe hulls, thus not a great deal. when and if I am to build a big proper boat I think I might do it in Papua New Guniea. They have huge forests of quality timber and wages are very cheap. PNG is Australia's closest neighbour. What the skills are of PNG boatbuilders are I do not know. Phillipines is another option.
What the ethics of using timber from Papua New Guniea is I do not know.
n peter evans
03-26-2006, 05:48 PM
I sailed in and out of a bahamian port (Marsh Harbor abaco) The Haitians also visited that port. The vessels were essentially built of scrap. The top of the bridge of one was covered with ROOFING SHINGLES! Green roll on shingles. The running lights were simply a green and a red light bulb and in no way showed from right ahead to 2 points abaft the beam as required in the col regs. They spent the weekend disgorgeing ( Unloading is not a suitable term) apparently they stored scrap 2x4s filled with nails (to be pulled by the crew upon arrival in Marsh harbor) IN THE ENGINE SPACE. Piled up against the engine. The sailing vessels were seen aplenty in Nassau harbor. All these vessels, while showing incredible thriftyness on the builder/owner's part are craft that I would not trust to carry a cargo packing foam. VERY CRUDE.
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