Boat business idea - pirogues from Congo...!

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by congoriver, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. congoriver
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Kinshasa

    congoriver Junior Member

    I've lived for a while in Congo now, and the main means of transportation in the country are its unique pirogues, made from some of the world's strongest wood.

    1. They are beautiful, strong and durable (a pirogue will last for anywhere between 10 and 20 years without maintenance; the big ones will last more than 100 years, easily)
    2. They are made from a (potentially) renewable material
    3. Their construction provides jobs to the world's poorest people (forest dwellers in the Congolese jungle)
    4. They are dirt-cheap

    Sizes/prices range from (approximately):

    -tiny, childrens' pirogue - 2 meters long / 10 cm radius --> 30 US$
    -small, boys and girls pirogue - 3 meters long / 15 radius --> 50 to 100US$
    -medium size, 4 adults, 200kg of cargo - 4 to 5 meters long / 20 radius --> 100 - 200US$
    -large size, up to 10 adults, 500kg of cargo - 6 to 8 meters long / 25 radius --> 200 - 300US$
    -huge size, up to 20 adults, several tons of cargo - 8 to 12 meters long / 25 to 30 radius --> 500 - 1000 US$
    -mega-monster (king's, chief's boat), half a village can fit into it (!!!): 12 to 20 meters long / 30 to 40 radius, **indestructible** --> would cost a lot, because the trees are sacred, but I assume one can get one for 2000 to 3000US$

    Many of these pirogues are easy to have an outboard fitted onto. My 10m pirogue takes a 25hp and moves very swiftly through the water, with two motorbikes, 15 people and 1000kg of cargo.

    I add some pics of my boat, while going to my project in the Equateur Province.

    In any case, I'm sure there's not really a business in this. But maybe someone just thinks there is, for him or her. Feel free to explore! I can send you containers (or ships!) full of these cute pirogues...:)
     

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  2. congoriver
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Kinshasa

    congoriver Junior Member

    I have many more pics showing the prow, but they're on a drive I can't find right now. Will soon update.
     
  3. troy2000
    Joined: Nov 2009
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    Location: California

    troy2000 Senior Member

    That's pretty impressive. Looks like there are at least a dozen people in that one pirogue....
     
  4. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    NRA's "Hunter" magazine featured rotomolded plastic fake pirogues

    styled to look like hand-hewn dugouts for a Water-Buffalo safari.

    They didn't mention it but I'm sure the reason for the plastic was because the NRA TRIES to promote responsible, sustainable hunting and all hardwood forests are endangered.

    "-large size, up to 10 adults, 500kg of cargo - 6 to 8 meters long / 25 radius --> 200 - 300US$"

    Check the prices of hardwood recently? I haven't but I'm sure a log that size is worth 10x, maybe 100x the price of the boat you gave, on a legal approved lumber market.

    The Japanese would take that log and shave it into rice-paper thin veneers for the dash boards of 100,000 Lexus, charging a lot more than $300 for each "real hardwood dash".

    I'd say their best bet at earning money from their forests would to make sure their neighbors aren't making $300 boats out of $30,000+ trees, and destroying tourist attracting wild-life habit in the process.

    Sure, it feels a little awkward for a Westerner to tell these guys not to cut their own trees for the own use after other Westerners did most of the damage, but what ya gonna do?
    Seen how thin the 'exotic wood' veneers over the particle board are these days? It is literally paper thin.
     
  5. congoriver
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Kinshasa

    congoriver Junior Member

    Yep, that trip we did with 14 people, two Yamaha 175 bikes and about 1000kg of cargo distributed throughout the pirogue.

    These age old boats are really quite cool. And because of their sleekness, they glide through the water in quite an impressive way.
     
  6. kerosene
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    Location: finland

    kerosene Senior Member

    Very good post.


     
  7. jonr
    Joined: Sep 2008
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    Location: Great Lakes

    jonr Senior Member

    I assume that the boat builders aren't clear cutting forests - I'll buy one if they can be exported.

    > rotomolded plastic fake pirogues

    Replacing renewable wood with not so renewable petroleum products doesn't make sense to me.
     
  8. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    I wouldn't be so sure on either point. I doubt that they have the resources to clear cut and I also doubt that petroleum is non-renewable.
     
  9. dustycrockett
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: Texas

    dustycrockett Junior Member

    Why are the NRA pirogues "fake"? They don't float maybe? Nah, that would just be a really bad pirogue.

    I mean, in the 1960's you could buy a plastic (FRP) "real" pirogue at the sporting goods store down the street from where I grew up, in north Louisiana.

    Those were not much different from congoriver's pirogues, although I never would have applied that term to any vessel over 15, maybe 16 feet long.

    Which brings up another question -- you're using "cm" and "meters" in the same sentence with "US$" -- you should realize (sorry, I meant "realise"), the metric system never really caught on in the states. Except of course for the nine millimeter bullet.

    Still, you might find a market in the Mississippi delta. Provided of course they manage to stop the british petroleum invasion.......

    cheers!
     
  10. Deadeye
    Joined: Jan 2009
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    Location: BC, Canada

    Deadeye Bender of Nails

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Let's face it - by the time you get it here and get it to market, it'll cost the same as a typical canoe of the same length and the canoe has more useful load.

    My question is serious, and it is this:
    What do these boats offer that would make people buy one of these rather than buying what they grew up with and are used to ?
    Or to put it another way, non-sailors rarely buy sailboats.

    I'm not trying to sound like an a**hole here, but I don't see what these boats offer that isn't already present in the marketplace.

    For a boat that length, 200kg is bugger all - the crusty old canoe up at the cabin will carry double that...and more.

    Sell me on why your boats would sell.
    The enviro angle is not enough to sell the boat on its own - so says the market and its plethora of plastic boats.
     

  11. kerosene
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    Location: finland

    kerosene Senior Member

    especially when the enviro angle might easily be backwards
     
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