Friday, October 18, 2019

Critical cargo boat repairs and a new faster wooden boat

Boat time!

This summer was filled with boat repairs and boat building.  Boats are very important for the villages which are along the river.  They are needed to go to the city to buy food, supplies, and to receive medical care.  Wooden boats are the workhorses of the majority of inhabitants of the Amazon.

Returning with our cargo, six hours on the river.

Our first boat is a 39-foot wooden cargo boat.  It is two and a half years old.  It will safely carry up to three metric tons of people, animals, building supplies, and fuel in any and all combinations.  This was our first choice of boat.  It was built by Israel the boat-builder in the Peruvian village of Puerta Alegria, 15 kilometers upriver from the city of Leticia.

Repainting our boat.  We used a new two-part epoxy paint which seemed to have worked very well.

Our cargo boat was first used to transport building supplies for our guesthouse.  Now its main use is to bring students, who are in our scholarship program, to Leticia to buy school supplies.  It is also frequently borrowed by the village school to transport students to events in other river communities.  Occasionally we loan it to a group of villagers to go to church-related functions.

Our cargo boat towing our new wooden boat.
The village does not always have a community boat to transport its members.  They have had boats in the past, but as with many community-owned resources, no one was responsible for the boats' maintenance.  Within three years they were all rotted or unable to safely use.  It is very important that we maintain our boat.

We loaned our boat to the neighboring community of Zaragosa.  They are bringing tons of sand into the port.  The sand will be used to make concrete walkways for the village.  This will help to reduce erosion.

One small part of the total sandbags for the project.

This year we replaced six of the boat's rotten internal braces, the stern board, and repaired and resealed the hull.  We also repainted the outside of the hull with very durable epoxy paint and the inside with flexible polyurethane paint.  It's better than new!  Many villagers are surprised at the good condition of the boat, given its age.  Only about half of the villager's boats are painted.  They rot quickly.
Wood, even when painted, rots quickly in the intense heat and humidity of the Amazon.

While our cargo boat holds a lot of weight and is very stable in the water, it is slow and uses a lot of fuel.  Our first solution was to buy an aluminum boat.  Aluminum boats are lighter than wooden boats of comparable size. They do not rot.  But they do have a big disadvantage.  They cost 10 times the price of a wooden boat which carries the same number of people.

While it looked good, it leaked.

We almost bought a used aluminum boat which was within our budget.  However, after a little investigative work, I found that the hull had been treated badly and repainted.  It had leaks that were not fixed.  One day after bailing (the bailing happened directly before they showed it to me) it was filled with water.

Building the boat in Puerta Alegria.  Israel is a third-generation boat builder.

As an alternative we had a new, smaller wooden boat built.  It is 25 feet long and weighs about a quarter of our large boat.  It is twice as fast and uses much less fuel.  It was also made by Israel.  It was painted with grey epoxy paint on the inside and outside.  When we have trips in which we only have a small amount to transport, or we need more speed, the new boat is excellent to use.

Putting on the finishing touches to the sides while we start to paint the bottom of the boat. 

At last, the day after painting it is ready to launch!

We are continuing our campaign to buy an aluminum boat that will be used by us and the village.  An aluminum boat offers speed, much better stability, and is more economical to run.  It will not have a rot problem.  The only problem is the cost.  We have $1,300 now, we need another $1,200 to buy one.  In Novemeber we will be starting our fundraising, on our Facebook Boat Fundraiser page.  Please help us in our efforts.  Thanks!

A video of us traveling upriver with the new boat!

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