The Mighty Mekong expedition boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by greginlaos, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. greginlaos
    Joined: Nov 2010
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    Location: Luang Prabang Lao PDR

    greginlaos GreginLaos

    Howdy,

    Just joined, so greetings to everyone. (Sabaii dii)

    I live in the Lao PDR (between Thailand and Vietnam) in a town called Luang Prabang.. a fantastically beautiful place on the Mekong River. Very few roads here, limited technology, lots of mountains and unmapped landscapes, but many many rivers..in fact the entire country is accessible by these waterways if you can use them.

    Spent a lot of time in boats in other places so want to build one a small one here to explore this amazing place (+ Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam) . I now run a workshop here and have some very skilled local tradesmen (mostly metal work) , not strong on technology but incredibly skillful at sticking pieces of metal together accurately, basic mechanics..and survival engineering...fantastic team...

    So am pleading for help with the design in return for hosting anyone who would like to visit here, as much BeerLao as you can drink , personal guided tours, all the Mekong fish you can eat, etc etc...

    Boat must be:

    Small (>7m) / shallow draft (>300 mm) ;

    Very tough (probably steel hull) as there are lots of rocks, floating logs, no info and variable depths during wet / dry season;

    Low power, no access to "proper marine gear" so will use the trusty Kobota 14 hp thumper diesel (RT140 DI-ES) if I can (if not am open to suggestions). It is cheap (I already have one) , very reliable and you can buy parts at any village market (almost). I will have to use a light truck gearbox for F - N - R as I have not really got an option, importing stuff is a nightmare and no one here uses a gearbox in their boats;

    Don't matter if its slow, (Sabii Sabii) in fact most of the smaller rivers are too full of snags to do anything more than a few knots but need to make at least 5 to get ahead of the current;

    So please help me out with any suggestions that you might have re: designs, personal experiences, anything else you can think of.

    Kind regards

    Greg
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    The FAO provides excellent info on that topic.

    If you cannot find them, I will search for.

    Regards
    Rcihard

     
  3. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Are there any Hmong people left in Laos?
     
  4. cthippo
    Joined: Sep 2010
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    Location: Bellingham WA

    cthippo Senior Member

    I don't have anything to offer, but I'd love to come help you build it in exchange for a ride! Awesome part of the world and one I hope to visit one of these days.
     
  5. Knut Sand
    Joined: Apr 2003
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    Location: Kristiansand, Norway

    Knut Sand Senior Member

    There's some plans out here somewhere for smaller variations of fishing vessels/ boats for free download. I'll try to locate them, or other may have the internet adress more available, i'm thinking of some plans for simpler boats, some of them are with outboards engines bot some are with inboard too, think its some sort of fishing industry program for contries in development. Now the link seem totally lost to me....

    Edit; Got it:

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5649e/y5649e00.htm

    The 7,4 / 8,5 or thereabout sizes are for inboard engines.
     
  6. Bijit Sarkar
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    Location: Calcutta,India

    Bijit Sarkar Naval Architect

    Dear Greg,
    I admire your passion.
    I am a naval architect and would like to help you with the design. However, let me warn you that since this has to squeeze into my job and travels, I can't commit on quick responses always.
    Let me know and we can take it forward.
    Regards.
    Bijit Sarkar
     
  7. greginlaos
    Joined: Nov 2010
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    Location: Luang Prabang Lao PDR

    greginlaos GreginLaos

    Thanks, I have found them (with the help of others in thus forum). Looked at your gallery, what a fantastic interior finish.......beautiful.
     
  8. greginlaos
    Joined: Nov 2010
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    Location: Luang Prabang Lao PDR

    greginlaos GreginLaos

    Sorry did not understand, I was responding to apex 1, I am not yet familiar with this format of communications..

    so in order of appearance,

    apex 1: thanks as previous:

    hoytedow: Yes there are many Hmong (and 56 other "ethnic groups" as they are refereed to here). In fact I live in a Hmong village called Ban Kwatii nung. Most of my workers are Lao Luong or ethnic Lao, the dominant group here, but we also have a number of Hmong who do day work for us mostly manual labor and who are incredibly hard working and almost embarrassingly honest. They all get along at work seamlessly. The Hmong are as tough as Gurkhas and live in terrible conditions, as do most of the peoples of Lao. Great people but very very poor. One of my staff had never seen a bank note with a denomination of more than 10,000 Kip ($1.20) and has 5 children. We try to provide them with meaningful work and they respond to it with real grace;

    cthippo: No need for exchange, always room here for someone with good intentions, just give us some warning and you are welcome;

    Knut Sand: Got it thanks...They are also not so bad to look at ...

    Bijit Sarkar: a most generous offer, I will take you up on it. As a secondary consideration, if we get it right and we can produce tough, reliable boats for these rivers I am sure we could convince an AID group or philanthropist to assist in building a basic model to allow people to get around. A friend of mine donated a locally built wooden boat to a school here last year at the cost of less than $500 and it has raised attendance at the school from 25 to 100 children.

    Lets work out some way to cooperate...

    Thank again G
     
  9. kach22i
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Michigan

    kach22i Architect

    Sounds like a job for a hovercraft, that is if speed in all seasons has an economic advantage.

    An example in China........
    http://nuvutraveler.com/viewourpictures.html
    [​IMG]
     
  10. cardsinplay
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Camp Plasma

    cardsinplay da Vinci Group

    This is cool, Kachi, but one needs to understand the realities of the bush.
     
  11. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Thanks for the response. I am sorry their lives are so hard.
     
  12. Jimfin
    Joined: Mar 2009
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    Location: Melbourne

    Jimfin New Member

    Gday Greg.
    I work not that far from you in Central Thailand and have been to Lao a few times, so I can see the attraction to exploring the rivers.

    But I have to ask, do the locals not make dug-outs that would suit your purpose?

    Also, in your requirements you say " >7m". Do you mean you want something longer than 7 metres, or that it should be less the 7?
    Cheers
    Jim
     
  13. greginlaos
    Joined: Nov 2010
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    Location: Luang Prabang Lao PDR

    greginlaos GreginLaos

    Chiang Mai ? or are you on the Mekong?

    There are lots of local boats, mostly built from planks, used to be teak but not so common now. Also lots of river deaths, and lots of journeys terminated due to equipment failure.

    The wood is rapidly running out or has found more profitable homes in furniture or expensive hotel decor.

    And I am becoming a grumpy old man and enjoy some level of comfort so ....
     
  14. Bijit Sarkar
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    Location: Calcutta,India

    Bijit Sarkar Naval Architect

    Let's begin

    Dear George,

    Can I have the answers to the following questions
    1. You preferred steel. Can you verify the quality of steel? Basically structural quality steel will do but tell the dealer to give you the plate from the later part of the batch. That way you will get low sulphur and phosphorus percentage - good for low corrosion over the years.

    2. Good that you have a good team. What kind of welding machines and how many do you have ?

    3. Minimum draft in the area u will be plying.

    4. How many passengers?
    5. Duration/length of trip?
    6. Do u need a toilet / pantry on board?
    5. What is the comfort level?
    6. still water speed Desired?
    7. What is the tide current?
    8. can you get a propeller made there if I send you the drawing?
    9. Give details of the engine , whatever you have or can get.

    What i am thinking of is a catamaran hull with single direction curveture.
    why?
    1. cat hull will give you very high stability. Tourists hate a boat that rolls. A dolphin pops up and all the tourists crowd to one side can cause a catastrophe in a single hull.
    2. The passage between hulls allows floatsum to pass by.
    3. Rudders/props are wider spaced - giving you more maneuverabilty.
    4 A lot of underdeck storage space.

    Please give some thought as to where do u want to make it. Send me pictures. Believe me, i have seen boats made with no way to launch them. Think how will u launch.
    you will need a stable platform to build. Welding distorts and unless u take care, can cause a lot of trouble.

    So far. Will wait for your reply.
    Regards.
    Bijit Sarkar

    P.S: If you want , you can switch our communications to private channels (direct emails bijit@vsnl.com). However, keeping it here may give u the extra benefit of advice from all the friends here.
     

  15. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    It would be nice to let us participate. Many of us are quite interested in this task, and I am sure will provide some assistance as well.

    Regards
    Richard
     
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