Thanks for all these pics and commentary. Its a part of the world I haven't seen and still hope one day I can.
I am in search of a sawmill/boatyard in Vientnam to purchase timber for a boat (30m) to be built abroad.
Ideally the hull could be somewhat prefabricated in Vietnam and exported.
Any idea about prices compared to other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia?
Thanks in advance
I suggest you post this on the Building Schooner in Vietnam thread in Building/Repair - I'm sure Luke will be able to advise you.
Regarding the bamboo basket boats, John Doney put me in touch with Isaac Bingham who had spent part of 2006 in Viet Nam as part of a project he did with a fellowship. Isaac posted a number of photos of the building process for one of the bamboo basket boats and actually got very involved in the entire process from stripping out the bamboo through waterproofing the finished hull. He didn't provide captions on the photos but they are pretty descriptive. I will do my best to add my own thoughts on what is going on, but will defer to any of you more knowledgeable people who have anything to add.
First of course will be the gatheriing of tools and materials:
I can't tell you what kind of bamboo was/is used, or if it is soaked for preservation. From the photos it looks green, but the woven panel has obviously lost that color. Next in the process is the weaving of the large circular panel, flat on the ground:
[To be continued in the next entry]
Returning to Basket Boat construction you will see that Isaac got right into the middle of this going even so far as to use his bare feet like his instructors. We will continue with the initial flat circular panel construction:
What will become the bottom of the boat has a different weave than what will be the sides: I'd be interested to understand the reasons for choosing the different patterns but will have to ask Isaac:
Next posting will continue with panel construction.
Finishing the round flat woven panel of bamboo:
Then bamboo strips are bound into the circular shape which will become gunwales and define this type of Basket Boat...and raised off the ground with stakes which will give the depth of the hull:
The woven bamboo "disc" is placed unsecured on the shaping and gunwale frame:
Then the shaping of the hull begins by the builder climbing onto the disc and beginning the process of pushing the flat woven bamboo down into the frame:
He's using stones or bricks to keep ahead of the tendency of the bamboo panel to spring back up and cancel progress.
[Continued in next posting]
Continuing the shaping of the flat bamboo disc into a three dimensional hull, the builder pushes the bamboo into position and the weavings assume different angles to accomodate going from flat to full curves:
When the shape of the hull is finally assumed satisfactorily, then the now- deep-woven hull is bound/stitched to the bamboo gunwales [after, I imagine, the excess weaving is cut off]:
The hull is coated inside and out with some kind of waterproofing. I'm not sure what is used today but in earlier times a kind of pitch was used...
[continued in the next posting]
The waterproofing inside and out continues:
And then stringers of bamboo are run inside the basket hull, for wear and reenforcing I imagine:
That pretty much covers the basic steps in constructing these boats. A longer more oval hull shape as used in Ha Long Bay would mean a longer oval gunwale frame, and the traditional wood-sided-basket-bottomed craft from other places on the coast would have had the longer more narrow woven bamboo mats forced down into the shape that the already layed up wood plank sides had.
I want to thank Isaac Bingham for permission to post these photos. Any errors in interpretation of the processes shown are mine and I apologize. Constructive criticism is encouraged and welcome.
Thanks Rob, great to have this series here! By the materials and the look of that boat I'd guess it's somewhere around Da Nang?
I guess that I need to stir the post again, little more wood on the fire. In the Handbook of Junks of South Vietnam, 1962, I've gotten about 90% through boosting the images and re-ordering the text. I still face the challenge of getting better scans of about 40 ink-drawn elevations of the different boats, but text and photography are coming along. I have gotten as far as this discussion of the eyes of the different Vietnamese boats and am posting a couple of pages of text from the Book, plus a diagram and a couple of photos. There is not much about the eyes typical of the Mekong Delta, with which I am most familiar. The authors admitted that their knowledge of the origin and meanings of the eyes was not definitive, but published what they knew and speculated about.
Then a couple of the many photos in which eyes are prominent:
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that this coming year's accomplishments stay firmly anchored to their dreams.
Truly beautiful site, Rick. The photos are striking and bring back the memories from my many trips up and down Viet Nam in the late 80s and early 90s. I worked in Viet Nam early on trying to help influence our government to lift the Trade Embargo against Viet Nam. We were the first group of vets to return to Viet Nam and construct the Friendship Clinic in Vung Tau in 1989.
I particularly liked sailing on the tourist junks in Ha Long Bay, North of Haiphong. I thought riding the ferry boats across the rivers in My Tho and Can Tho was very scarry, talk about unsafe and overloaded ferry boats.
I was looking thur your site for one boat in particular, have you seen the junk, the "Song Saigon"? I had the privilege of meeting Rinaldo Max and his wife Rosemary during the construction of this magnificant wooden boat. Spent a coupld days on the Saigon rIver with this boat and crew. Wondering if you have seen her lately. My last trip to Viet Nam was adding a wing to a hospital in My Lai in Quang Ngai province in 2001.
Thanks Fredy! Song Saigon actually means Saigon River in Vietnamese. I haven't seen that boat but Luc (Lucky Luke) might be familiar with it. Perhaps he'll let us know as he checks this thread from time to time. Although I've been lucky to travel a lot throughout Vietnam, I haven't really spent much time in Saigon. My base was Hanoi.
Rob, thanks again for uploading all this historical information and the old pictures. They're really wonderful!
"Song Saigon" (the junk) is gone...
She was built by Max Rinaldo with part of the finance coming from Denis Colonna (former Chairman of "Exotissimo" travel agency), and who now has a new "Song Saigon", but which is an aluminum catamaran motoryacht, built by Saigon Shipyard on a design by the Joubert-Nivelt tandem. After cruising from Saigon to Marseille with his wife, where they are now, he has put the boat for sale (at a ridiculous price!).
But let's go back to the junk.
As you know, Freddy, she was (...) a three masted junk built from a design preserved at the "Musee de la Marine" in Paris of an ancient trading junk from the South of China. She was entirely built in "sao" wood - an exceptional timber which is now preserved - and fastened with trunnels in the best building tradition. She was, in all respects, meant to be an ocean going boat, but as I have experienced, actually much better on the river than at sea....as her sad ending finally showed!
However, one must bear in mind that these boats were designed to sail with the monsoon, from North East to South West China coast from May to October, and back the other half of the year, not at all for beating to windward, which "Song Saigon" was incapable of, and not built for either. We did a short passage with her from one of the Western mouths of the Mekong delta to Vung Tau city, with her V12 Baudouin engine (which came from Alain Colas 70m. three masted "racing" boat "Club Med") giving all what it could....just to be stopped dead by every one and a half meters wave we would regularly face. The boat was suffering as much as behaving miserably in this medium seaway. Nevertheless, she was a wonder of comfort, not only in her cabins and large aft saloon, but moreover on her huge aft deck gently sweeping forward like on the after castle of an ancient ship - which she actually was!
So, she was mostly taking passengers for up and down river cruises, sometimes at sea, very seldom hoisting her two tons mainsail with all the complex junk rig, bamboo battens and heavy cotton cloth. She even went up to Cambodia where she was used for an unsuccessful treasure hunt on the "Condor" reef, but mostly had an easy life up to when she was finally sold to film makers who took her to Micronesia for some mysterious researches... (???). They changed her rig to a certainly lighter kind on "junk looking" marconi rig, just as ugly as non-propulsive, but she had some more good time in this gentle part of the Pacific ocean. During that time, she was alas not maintained using the well proven traditional ways that the Vietnamese had preserved but Micronesian ignore. Then she sailed across the Indian Ocean, up the Red Sea, and entered the Mediterranean. That is where her world changed!!!
In this often very windy and extremely choppy sea, and after years of improper maintenance, she suffered so much that her seams opened, her old trunnels not holding her together, her pumps unable to cope with that water....and she sank! Definitely the one and only Chinese junk that ever sunk in the "Med"!!!!
Her crew was all rescued, but she who once was the beautiful junk "Song Saigon" now rests in the bottom of the Eastern Mediterranean sea...
Last edited by Lucky Luke; 01-03-2011 at 10:10 PM.
"Homme libre, toujours tu cheriras la mer" (Charles Baudelaire)
Quite a story! Thanks Luc!! Wish I'd seen this one!
Thought that a page of equivalent's might be suitable here, enabling some basic translation. This from the '62 Junk Blue Book :
And to fill out the posting three pages of illustrations from the same:
It's not Harold Underhills Masting and Rigging, but it's a start.
Fascinating stuff! I'd build one, but bamboo here is $6 a stick in the garden section
1947 Nordic Folkboat "Nina"
For those of you who have been following my postings from the "Junk Blue Book" you can now download the entire book from the Indigenousboats Blog [ http://indigenousboats.blogspot.com/ ] free of charge, no threads attached. In the Wednesday, February 23, 2011 entry blogger Bob Holtzman introduces the book and gives a link to the site. From there you can click on the book cover and the download will begin. It takes awhile even if you have broadband, because 89Mb was as small as I could get it and still maintain the resolution needed to print a clear copy. The pdf [file] is set up for printing, with mirrored gutter margins. I've printed 4 copies on 8.5x11" paper, three of them I had spiral bound and one I had hardbound. I printed the copy for hardbinding in black and white except for the 7 pages with color, and am more than pleased with the result. If you chose to print the entire book in color the photos will be sepia toned. I have located an original copy in a library close enough to drive to and have been getting some better resolution copies of the 30 some pages of boat elevations, which I will eventually update to the pdf [file], but for now the elevations are readable but a little shy of the best resolution. Finding an original copy for sale would be almost impossible and I don't want to think about what the cost would be. Printing and having it hard bound is a lot easier "nut to crack" though it's still an expense. Those of you in Asia who might want to can probably have a couple of dozen of them printed and hardbound from the file, at about what it cost me to have the one copy done in New Orleans. Of course a one-off printing and binding is always expensive. Anyway, the book is in the public domain so the file is free to share, something I encourage. Maybe that way other copies will surface and be preserved [and it might be that some day I will get an original copy of my own]. The book is definitely a classic if I say so myself and deserves to be on a lot more bookshelves.
Warm regards...Rob Whitehurst
Last edited by Mattie64; 02-24-2011 at 10:31 PM.
That address didn't work for me. Good stuff!!!
Thad, apologies from me and the blogger Bob Holtzman. I'm sure that the site will be working properly shortly. If you didn't get the pdf let me know and I will forward a separate link.
Regarding the blog http://indigenousboats.blogspot.com/ the link to the Junk BLue Book is up and running fine so "He'p yoseff", as they say in eastern North Carolina, you can download the Book with a little time and patience.
Nicely done, Rob. You should post a notice about it to the Alumni section of the RISD newsletter.
RESIST. FIGHT THE POWER.
I've just processed some more photos from my trip last year... and found some more boats
Here's the bow of the boat we travelled down the Mekong on.... a cargo boat
One of the boats used to transport the sand from dredging operations... loaded, with decks awash, and a less heavily loaded identical boat behind
Timber boat being constructed
A couple of women lacquering the inside of a bamboo boat. Smelly stuff...
Same location as the above (Da Nang), looking seaward. I shot this with a telephoto.... a couple of seconds before, there were two of these large nets in the air. I blinked... and there was one
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem
I'd rather look back at my life and say "I can't believe I did that" instead of being there saying "I wish I'd done that"
Those nets in the air are fish traps. They're lowered into the water for a while and then hauled upwards with a cable and winch. Some of the winches are powered by electric motors, others have a petrol or diesel engine. The little building on stilts that you can see in your photo above, behind the net, probably houses a small petrol engine that raises the net.
Time to put some life in this thread. I spent 5 weeks in Viet Nam from late November through the first of the new year. I'd promised that I would see what I could photograph of local boats, not expecting much really, but I managed quite profitably. After two and a half weeks in the North I spent 10 days in the Mekong Delta, in the western province of An Giang. For one day I rented a small sampan from the Long Xuyen waterfront and went back up the Ong Chuong Canal to Cho Moi and then around Cu lao Tay almost halfway to Chau Doc and Cambodia. I'd gone down through the canal twice during the war 40 years ago and have retained clear memories of it being one of the prettiest inland passages I've ever made. I wasn't disappointed and will make several postings here of boats, boatyards and of the industries which keep these boats at work. There are still many many of the traditional double ended wooden rice barges, and there are still boat yards building them...plank first and then frames in afterward. The river branches and the canals are filled with busy junks and sampans, transporting people, rice, fruit, rice straw and fire wood.
The first two images are of the same yard, zoomed in a bit for more detail. The third one is a small river junk with a cargo of Nipa palm nuts, used as food and for making a palm sugar.
And these above are of markets, large town markets and the impromptu small bank side trading which goes on when an excess of netted fish is landed from the river. Comments and questions welcome...I have a couple of hundred images in the collection and if any one wants I can send/post the link to that, in photobucket.
Last edited by Mattie82; 02-24-2012 at 10:01 AM.
That's just great Rob! I never saw any barges being built. Your photos bring back great memories - I'm really missing the place and people!
Rick, I will be posting a few, so keep an eye out for 'em. Don't want to empty the shot locker all at once, so just five or six at a time over a couple of weeks.
Looking forward to lots more piccies Rob! Great stuff! JayInOz
OK, same stretch of the Rach Ong Chuong [Ong Chuong Canal] on the way to Cho Moi from Long Xuyen by sampan. Photo of a different yard and zooming in a bit closer...building the large river junks, mostly used for transporting rice and rice chaf / rice straw....
To illustrate use, right next to the boat yard one of the river junks being loaded: as light as the baskets are and looking at the retaining framework and screens I would say this load is of rice chaf. Un-milled rice is a much heavier cargo and a load of it is pretty much packed below the level of the combing, as the final two photos will show...
And a couple of shots of one of the junks underway on the Ong Chuong Canal loaded with un-milled rice...
Last edited by Mattie82; 02-23-2012 at 10:14 AM.
On a roll here this morning and it's raining so I'm stuck in the house for a bit. To continue, a photo of one of the river junks underway light out on one of the major branches of the Mekong, the Hau Giang, below Chau Doc:
We stopped for lunch at Cho Moi, leaving our chartered sampan under the one end of a bridge and crossed into town. When I was last here in the early 70s, Cho Moi was a quiet small village under many trees, with mostly unpaved lanes instead of streets. Today it can't be called a village any more.
On the Cho Moi side of the bridge I looked down on some boat construction...
Nice, being able to see inside the open hold of one of these junks. Historically, these large river junks were poled against the current or rode with the current and sometimes used small sails. When engines showed up, for many years the junks were tendered by small inboard "pushers", I photographed a number of those in the early 70s. The crew / owners lived in the large house aft. Since I had been here last during the war, it seems that most of the large junks have had engines installed inboard and I didn't see any of the small tenders this time. Putting an engine in what was quarters necessitated moving outside of the space and I saw a lot of the junks with "back porches" built on them...and a lot of them with wheelhouses built above the houses aft which previously were quarters. Regrettable in many ways, but progress. The large quarters aft were airy, quiet except for water noises and family life, with all the wonderful wood bulkheads and decks unpainted and natural. This is a new wheelhouse being readied on the canal bank.
Small boat, "ghe" in Vietnamese or "sampans", plenty of those and plenty of photos. I didn't get into any "boat" shops so the images are of just boats busy at their tasks. The pivoting, long-tailed engines were already in common use on small boats back in the late 60s, early 70s. You still see boats rowed from a standing position on the stern, and you see everywhere the small engines in use, "outboard" with very few engine boxes for inboard engines in the small boats. The long-tailed engines have gotten larger and there are some fairly substantial boats using one or two of them for propulsion.
Then the engines. I've "pushed" these images through Photoshop to emphasize the engines; don't want anyone to think that Viet Nam is "black-and-white", like me being surprised when I went to Ha Noi for the first time in 2005 and was surprised that it was "in color".
And just to be sure and hold your interest, a random shot of another large river junk being built:
More, small boats, larger boats with "outboard, long-tailed" engines, stuff.....
There is a tail shaft emerging from behind those checked pajama bottoms hanging to dry over the rudder from the "back porch". I don't think "poop" is the correct term to use, but I mention it here anyway. It's nice to have your coconut dealer show up door-to-door in the morning, saving you the trip to the market.
Kind of a "salad" of images. These are "boat" people in the truest sense of the expression.
I will get back to the Mekong Delta but wanted to post some photos from Ha Long Bay in northern Viet Nam. We took the lunch cruise and the weather was nice and the food was OK, the company was fun on the boat and the passage through some of the islands was very scenic. I have spent a couple of days on this bay five years ago and made a much more thorough tour of the entire bay. We stayed overnight and the next morning got a cab to the market at Hong Gai, across the big bridge. After a couple of hours in the market I asked the cab driver to take us to where the fishing boats docked. He told us that they were out fishing, but I wanted to go anyway. We ended up at the typhoon anchorage and the boats that didn't go fishing were there "a plenty", and I got some wonderful photos [I think anyway]. I will make a couple of postings and show some of them. First from the lunch cruise out on the bay...
The two boats in the second image are trawling ahead, a net is suspended between the two long poles which project forward off of the two sides of the boats. These were the only boats in the north that I saw which had eyes. When they were moored in the anchorage, they moored stern-in side-by-side and with the much wider for'd end of the fishing rig, several of them moored made a "daisy", reminding me of some of the yacht rendezvous in New England when the boats would moor the same way.
Then on to the storm anchorage where all the boats were...
I will follow this posting with a couple of more from Ha Long Bay.
Last edited by Mattie82; 02-26-2012 at 07:30 AM.
A few more in the storm anchorage at Ha Long Bay, these all were taken in December of 2011. Actually I will show me taking some of them....
And to the boats...
This is Ha Long Bay for now.