New thread for a new chapter on the build of the prototype 24m/80' cargo proa.
I arrived in Fiji 2 weeks ago and moved into a bure and office at the College of Appropriate Tech and Development (CATD) at Bau Landing, about 25 kms NE of Suva. The staff and students are lovely and very keen to help. They offered me use of their carpentry, plumbing and metal workshops and want input on how to include boatbuilding in the curriculum. We may build a mini cargo proa (foam, not ply) on weekends and evenings. They're also keen on swapping outboard motor petrol powerheads for electric.
Interest in the boat and climate change are high, far higher than in Aus. A World Bank report on how the Fiji Govt should instigate their sustainable agriculture agenda stated: "Key informants flagged domestic inter-island shipping as an area in need of development." and "There should be a push to work with the Sustainable Sea Transport Initiative, which is building a prototype of a sustainable inter-island vessel to provide services to more remote locations." The vessel is the cargo proa, SSTI are the local people helping smooth the way for it.
The first day here, I had a visit from the chief whose family owns a large chunk of Fiji, including the CATD site and several islands, one of which is Leleuvia which has an eco friendly resort on it. He is very keen on the cargo proa, asked me to spend the weekend at the resort and give a talk to 50 students from the International School who are there for a week.
Lelauvia is lovely, the students a lot of fun.
The barman collared me to tell me the cargo proa was just what was required for his village, when could we start?
I went for a sail/paddle, not much wind in a plywood outrigger, 70 of which were built for an Amazon TV show. The guys who look after it are finishing their Env Eng degrees, offered to work on the Cargo proa over their holidays.
The most common comment from pre teen students, hotel staff and taxi drivers all the way to high up in the public service and Government is that everyone is talking about green shipping, but only the cargo proa is doing anything. Gratifying for me, not so much for the planet.
TAUTOKU!!! Fijian for marvellous. The first container arrived, an hour later it's unloaded and the contents in the shed, 100m down a dirt track. Amusing comparing my efforts with the car, trailer and tractor vs 30 enthusiastic strong Fijians. Pick up the component, put it on their shoulders and take off down the track. Video https://www.facebook.com/www.catdnadave.ac.fj The long hull is being joined in a shed over an old slipway. The first bow section went on today. Horrible glassing job inside an 800mm/32" x 800mm/32" sweat box with fast resin.
Launching will be interesting, but easier and cheaper than the Brisbane scenario. Plus there are 80 students available for lifting and carrying.
Day before yesterday was my birthday. I walked into the food hall for breakfast and 80 students and several staff sang happy birthday Rob, with far more enthusiasm than it has ever been sung the previous 66 times. The students are trades apprentices, but they sing beautifully. First thing in the mornings, pre dinner and occasionally spontaneously, they perform. It's a great way to be woken in the morning.
Yesterday had a visit from a World Bank funded reef clean up project about shipping waste plastic (a big problem) from villages to the recycling depot in Suva. They looked at the boat bits scattered around the place and wanted to know how many cargo proas we could supply and when! The COO is a Swede with a lot of ocean sailing miles in self built boats. Reckons the cargo proa is the 'most functional sailboat' he has seen. At the end of the meeting they asked how long I would be here. I answered that it is a beautiful place, the people are exceptionally friendly, I get better care than in a hotel, up to 80 enthusiastic assistants at my beck and call and I spend all day playing with boat ideas. I won't be leaving anytime soon.
Sorry about the pic size, the option for thumbnails is not shown.
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