the junk blue book – 2

ore pictures from The Junk Blue Book – Marion C. Dalby, more about cargo boats (the previous post presents mainly fishing boats). First image in the series: a typical ghe bầu, the main “work – horse” of Southern people in the old days, ancestor of cargo boats usually seen in the Mekong delta nowadays (though the hull shape has changed significantly with introduction of combustion engine, I suppose). At the time of The Junk Blue Book, boats of this type were usually found around 100 ton in displacement, though in previous centuries, they were often constructed bigger at a few hundreds ton to be used for both trading and naval purposes. Ghe bầu composed the ‘spiral – cord’ of Vietnamese landlords’ navies in feudal time.

According to records of Western missionaries, adventurers, soldier – of – fortunes… who worked in Vietnam in the late 18th century, the Nguyễn and Tây Sơn lords’ navies both had a few 70 – guns mans – of – war, built and equipped to Western designs, but the majority is of ghe bầu type, with 20 ~ 60 guns mounted, capable of transporting upto 700 troops. Though these facts are likely, they’re still vague descriptions, there’s a lack of details and evidences. 50 – guns warship is a very strong frigate indeed, could be classified as 4th – rate ship – of – the – line, par the Royal Navy rating system, and should have the displacement at least at 1,000 (metric) tons, a question mark whether Vietnamese traditional boat building at the time was having such a capability.

the junk blue book – 1

ore pictures from The Junk Blue Book – Marion C. Dalby. Some history background: in the early 60s, Northern Vietnam government (DRV) started an infiltration campaign to support the Southern communists by way of sea. The task force, designated: Group 579, deployed numerous boats, built and camouflaged as Southern fishing or cargo boats, smuggled weapons and war materials onto various spots along southern coast below the 17th parallel. The advantages of secret lines of boats are obvious: only need a small number of well – trained sailors, much larger cargo capacity, harder to trace and intercept (compared to e.g: transporting by trucks, which required lots of labours for road building and protecting, which is hard to keep secret).

The US Navy took countermeasures, first by carrying out a study on VN indigenous boats: designs and constructions, outer appearances, sail plans, navigational equipments, operational zones and routes, methods and habits of fishing… in an effort to help identifying which are real Southern VN boats, and which are camouflaged Northern ones. The result is The Junk Blue Book, the study was taken place at a time when the majority of VN boats (over ~ 70%) was still operating primarily on sails. Ironical facts of history, that a work conducted initially against Vietnamese people, has now turned into a record of knowledge on Vietnamese sailing tradition, a tradition that has been long forgotten by its owner, very few people still care or even aware of it nowadays!

les flots du…

Một dòng sông sâu, cuồn cuộn sóng, trôi về nơi đâu?
Gió đưa buồm nâu, mang tâm hồn, vào cõi u sầu!

ome pictures from The Junk Blue Book – Marion C. Dalby (Vietnamese title: Hải thuyền thanh thư). Despite some little efforts here and there (to recreate at least one functional Vietnamese – traditional sailing watercraft), a brilliant tradition had been lost, for more than half a century, virtually nowadays, none still possesses the full knowledge on Vietnamese sailing as it was the old days.

We now can only view these beautiful images and admire a heritage that had long ceased to exist 😢! Anyone care to know can download a PDF copy (40 MB) of The Junk Blue Book (bilingual, English and Vietnamese texts in parallel columns) directly here, lots of details on VN indigenous boats, and lots of interesting images too!





…in minor scale

tay at the 15 ~ 16 kilometers level for quite long already and can’t proceed further, it’s just because of my limited time. In order to practice beyond the 20 km range, it would probably take up whole day, not within a single morning or afternoon that I’m currently restricted. Anyway, I’m trying to keep up a good sustaining speed at 5 km per hour (GPS – measured with my Garmin, consider the plastic touring – boat I’m using a kind of clumsy and heavy design), and improving my endurance as well: continuous paddling in 3 ~ 4 hours couldn’t cause much fatigue for me, even at noon while the tropical sun is burning “fabulously”. Experiments with backward – looking camera mounting, too bad that it was raining and so gloomy today for a good video shot!

Backward:

Forward:

gopro

ons: buggy, can cause lots of frustration until you’d learned some hand – on experiences with it, image quality is not really good under sub – optimal lighting conditions, short battery life… Pros: simple handling, great protections for outdoor uses (the case is water – proof up to 60m), have tons of accessories for all your needs: diving, racing, skiing… lots of software options and settings to try out… A demo video below, you may recognise the background music: Deep Purple’s Highway Star 😀, once one of my favourite songs! It’s only when reviewing this clip did I realise that traffic is very dangerous nowadays in Saigon (or never has it been safe!?). Should we ban motorcycle completely, I would be happy with my bicycle then!


la maritza

Tous les oiseaux de ma rivière,
Nous chantaient la liberté.
Moi je ne comprenais guère…

ained some experiences in video editing, I hope the compilings below will better convey my moods while “patrolling” a boat in a “waltz dance” on water! 😀 Fish – eye camera is superb for outdoor’s wide sceneries, it creates an illusion that… the earth sphere is such small, and we could circumnavigate it in no time! 😀 Hate Youtube compression, it considerably degrades image quality, can hardly see the rain drops like in my original version.

Rains, I can say, it’s the most pleasure thing to me to go paddling in heavy rain, and even more fun in stronger winds and waves! La Maritza c’est ma rivière, comme la Seine est la tienne… the story began like that… Enjoy the video, and the stunningly beautiful Sylvie Vartan’s song too!



barcarolle

Đến đây với tôi cánh buồm đỏ thắm xa vời…

xperimenting with this new kind of first person shooting (on a second thought, almost any photo and video are first person’s view, aren’t they!?). Let press play, then press the fullscreen button to see the 720p, and turn on the speakers too. I don’t have much video shooting and editing experiences, but the up – coming capturings (to be uploaded in the next few weeks) would be better, I promise! 😀

About the music: it’s a Vietnamese interpretation (sung by Mỹ Linh) of Tchaikovsky – The Seasons‘ 6th piece named: June – Barcarolle, usually known in Vietnamese under the titles: Tháng sáu (June) or Chèo thuyền (Barcarolle). Yet it’s a bit late (now is August already, not June anymore) but anyhow, wonderful are the enjoying moments! 😀

Solo:

Tandem:



garmin

Beau le bateau, dansant sur les vagues,
Ivre de vie, d’amour et de vent.
Belle la chanson naissante des vagues,
Abandonnée au sable blanc!

ros: ruggedised, water – proof (to IPX – 7 standard only), good battery life (uses 2 AA batteries, I can usually make 4, 5 paddling “sorties” before having to recharge), good display (clearly visible under sunlight with low – LCD – backlight setting), doesn’t depend on cellular network to function like a cellphone, could use both GPS (US) and GLONASS (Russia) satellites’ signal, good 3D – stabilized digital compass to show directions (very useful for navigating even on rivers.

Sometimes, the river is so wide that I can hardly find correct heading based solely on its 2 banks’ landmarks), large internal storage space plus the ability to add an external memory card to store more maps. Cons: the Garmin’s default map is very vague on Vietnam’s territories, next to unusable, GUI responsiveness is slow compared to a smartphone’s standard. Most importantly, correct and content – rich maps are very much demanded:

General map

I’ve replaced my Garmin’s default map by Open Street Map, which is much better. However, Open Street Map, and even Google Map, are somewhat outdated for many parts of Vietnam. I’ve found out some places which are not right, even in the very vicinity of Saigon.

Topographic map

Thanks to NASA’s satellite image projects, the topographical information is now available publicly for most part of the globe, in high resolution. I’ve found these data built – in into Open Street Map already, so “the contours” are available on my Garmin.

Hydrographic map

I’ve long been collecting hydrography data, but there’s very few of them for Vietnamese water, and most are for blue – water regions, not the brown – water. Also, I’m still seeking a way to convert those data into Garmin map format to make them usable.

Tidal charts

Garmin supports displaying tidal information (given it is in the map), but unfortunately, those information for Vietnamese water is virtually zero. For me, this is currently the most important issue. Southern VN belongs to an area with complex mix of diurnal and semi – diurnal tides (Vietnamese: nhật triều & bán nhật triều). The highs and lows of tide within a single day can differ by 2 ~ 4 meters or more, which could make paddling very difficult, or even impractical at times (e.g: spring tide at new moon phase). For now, I consult this tides4fishing.com website to do the planning prior to going to the fields.

⓵⏎ From iPhone – 4S onward, Apple includes a GLONASS receiver into its hardwares, this explains the exceptional positioning performance of the devices. In term of precision, GLONASS is better than GPS at higher latitudes, but slightly behind GPS elsewhere. The use of both systems greatly extend signal coverage: GPS alone has 31 satellites, a receiver working with both GPS and GLONASS will have support from a total number of 55 (31 + 24) satellites, which improves signal fixing time, improves tracking performance and even precision would also receive a boost.




all the rivers run

nyone still remember this famous Australian television series (1983) ?! I can’t remember exactly when, but the series was broadcasted on Vietnam TV some time in the late 80s, under the title: Tất cả những dòng sông đều chảy. It created deep impressions in me, even though many years have passed, and now, I can’t really remember all film’s details, but the silhouette of the paddle steamer Philadelphia, the protagonist Philadelphia Gordon (Sigrid Thornton), after whom the boat is named, and captain Brenton Edwards (John Waters), their struggles for life and happiness… raised in me lots of inspirations about life on rivers (and life as rivers), with all its ups and downs, all its hardship and poetic moments. Look at the pictures below, how lovely is the couple at helm!



For today, I really like it after the rains, the water is so calm and warm, a curtain of light mist hangs across river and over mangrove swamp regions. Almost silence, only me, sound of the paddle and water drops. Some few times, ships’ horn breaks the “viscosity” of this vast, obscured space, reminds me that I’m not alone still in this all – calmly – moving world… A harvest along my paddling path, a cluster of fruits from the mangrove palm tree. Why do I have to buy it in the city while I can get one for free in wide wild nature!? Choose a ripe one, take some effort to cut it down while standing on my small floating kayak, carry home, crack open the fruits in halves, take the inside, add some little sugar and put into the fridge for an about hour, a good dessert indeed! 😀




dreams

eached my planned milestone of 15 km, in 2h 55′, or 5.14 km/h in average. I’ve been able to increase my sustained – speed considerably from last measured numbers at 4.4 km/h: revised my paddling techniques, learned a bit about the current, wind and especially the tide, changed to a slightly heavier but narrower boat with greater water – piercing power and lower windage. With the progress made so far, I’m confident to say that my 25 kilometres projected target is foreseeable beyond the horizon! 😀 But apart from those numbers, the best things are many beautiful scenes and interesting encounters on my paddling ways, one of which I would really want to tell below!

I came across this fishing boat which is frequently anchored in a calm river corner, and something on its stern immediately catches my eyes (click on the below images to see larger versions, you could have noticed a big model boat at aft). Feeling curious, I knocked on the wooden planks, an old men, perhaps in his late 60s or early 70s appeared. We then had an interesting talk, about – an – hour – long, on everything: boating, fishing, the tide, life on rivers… (pity that I hold on too much to our conversation and forgot to shoot him a picture). The man lives on the boat with his wife, and they do fishing on rivers and canals, roaming from place to place, pretty much anywhere in the Mekong delta.

Then, all of a sudden, the man proposed me to try a kind of crab claw sail onto my kayak, then he talked about sailing, I saw passion sparkled in his eyes. He talked about the “good old days” of sail, then he talked about ghe nang, its unique system of daggerboard. The conversation went on to everything about sailing and rigging. The man then explained a bit about his model boat, made out of pieces of foam, glued together and painted outside, the big fishing vessel in his dreams. Everyone has a dream, even this poor, 70 year old man! When I show this photo and recount part of the story to some of my friends, they all indifferently reply in one same way: it’s just a model boat, so what!? 😢

⓵⏎ Ghe nang: a “classic” of Vietnamese traditional boat building, very well admired by ones who got to know it, best described in: The Junk Blue Book – Marion C. Dalby (Vietnamese: Hải thuyền thanh thư) and Voiliers d’Indochine – J.B. Piétri (Vietnamese: Thuyền buồm Đông Dương). Ghe nang has a unique architecture: a light yet durable double ender with wooden upper structure and woven bamboo bottom, a symmetric system of retractable daggerboard at bow’s (and rudder at aft’s) slotted sternposts. Back in its time, the boat is known for its extreme agility (perhaps the best in its tonnage class) and seaworthiness in rough water and difficult weather conditions.