My friends Stephanie Boucher and her husband Alex Bienfait recently took a sabbatical of a few months in Sri Lanka. I gather the trip was both stunning and an education.
Anyway, they and came back with these photos, for which many thanks!
Stephanie works with websites for a living, and so naturally kept an excellent weblog of the trip. I should also explain that Alex is a Church of England parish priest, and I think took many if not all of the shots.
I’ve paraphrased some of Stephanie’s notes:
The cross on the fishing boat is interesting. It seems that when Christian missionaries came to Sri Lanka with the colonial powers one group that was particularly receptive was the fishing communities. This was particularly the case on the West coast of Sri Lanka: ideally Buddhists do not kill any living creature, but in this otherwise largely Buddhist culture fish is extremely popular, nevertheless. Fishermen often felt they were outcasts from the general community, and found a new sense of identity and self worth as Christians.
The fishing boats at Trincomalee were mostly of these boats were of fibreglass construction, much like those they to others photographed in the west and south of the island. But at Trincomalee they also saw a number of log canoes hewn from of a single tree. Stephanie, who has attempted to carve wooden spoons and other tools, greatly appreciated the skills required to get the thickness and shape correct for these boats. Some had subsequently been patched with a fibre glass lining, and also on the outside in various ways.
The final shots of outrigger canoes are from the former Dutch colonial capital of Galle. The stall with fish for sale, shows the is also picture with fish for sale, showing the boats are still very much in use.
Boats and boating are such a blessed relief from the woes and divisions of the world. So an email from Gerard Mittelstaedt about a bunch of kids building Mouseboats at Farley Boat Works at Port Aransas, Texas (it’s not far from Corpus Christi) had me grinning from ear to ear, as emails like this /always/ do. Thanks Gerard!
The Mouseboat design they used was the flat-bottomed Mini-mouse, which may now be the most popular version. Here’s what Gerard says about the project:
‘It was great fun. My wife, Mona, and I assisted… It was a 180 mile drive from our home in McAllen, Texas to do this… and well worth it. I’ve put a web page up celebrating the event.
‘A good time was had by all and the launching was very celebratory.
‘Mona, a retired teacher of the very young, noted that the children participating were amazingly well behavedand managed to finish and enjoy the project and the launch. It was amazing how well the children took to water… like little ducklings paddling along with great joy.’
If you’re in the area or can be, two youth boat building sessions at Farley Boat Works are scheduled for Summer 2017.
For Mouseboat plans, see the plans page here on Intheboatshed.net.
This lovely rowing boat built by P Siddall of Bridlington – but its Dutch owner, Ton Jansse, is in need of knowledge and advice on how best to proceed. He has already asked how to replace the missing bits of strake, how the interior should be laid out, what kind of paint to use and what colours would have been used originally.
He’s clearly the kind of chap who wants to do it the right way.
If anyone can fill in some of the gaps in terms of paint and colours, interior and so on – and if anyone has photos of similar boats, please let me know at email@example.com, as usual.
But perhaps the biggest question, I think, is the one about how to obtain the necessary boatbuilding skills. Short of going on a course (desirable, probably, but not always practical), what do readers think an amateur’s best sources are these days?