essai sur la construction navale des peuples extra – européens

ome time ago, I posted several entries about The Junk Blue Book. What’s a small world of the internet that lately, I had my honor to be contacted by Capt. Robert Whitehurst, the collector, editor who made the original, rare book written by Capt. Marion C. Dalby available for us as a free ebook today. Mr. Whitehurst is kind enough to correct a mistake in my postings, and sent me various documents that he’ve spent times and efforts to collect and digitalize them. I would say a thousand thanks to him, an old captain who spent his younger years on the Mekong delta’s rivers, who loves Vietnamese boats, who has closed – relations with Vietnam in many ways.

Among the documents Capt. Whitehurst sent me was this invaluable copy of Essai sur la construction navale des peuples extra – Européens, (literally translated into English as: Essay on naval construction of peoples outside of Europe), a tremendously amazing work by French’s admiral François – Edmond Pâris, published in Paris in 1841. The work consists of two volumes, 160 pages in textual volume I, and 132 illustrations in graphical volume II, introducing boats and boat constructions from various parts of the world. I’ve just started my reading, but can’t suppress my eagerness to made some excerpts here to show the extremely beautiful illustrations below.

The first 2 images: a rowing boat and a sail, fishing boat of Touranne, Cochinchine, which is today Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam.

follow me

irst of the three images, could it be called a “Follow me” style!? 😀 So busy lately, but keep paddling an average of 20km every two days, don’t actually have time to raise the target at 25, 30 km yet. February is short, can’t wait until all the rowing stuffs get done!

It’s now “kite – flying season” for the kids, plenty of wind these days on the rivers. And it’s also the “practising – season” for me, lots of windage for my small boat. It can even get quite rough at times, and you’d need to be tough, harder and harder paddling, day by day!

Imagine the 4, 5 feet (or more) waves out there in Vũng Tàu, much more troublesome and fascinating, compared to the 1, 2 feet waves here on the rivers, which couldn’t really give me a sense of motion. For various reasons, boating works have been delayed and delayed again, sigh… 😢

bắc hành – 2014

Người về miền xuôi, đem theo tình người miền núi,
Nhà sàn lả lơi, đứng bên đường hoang vắng soi.
Đưa chân anh qua đồi, cơm lam đem theo người,
Lên cao anh ôm trời, để dòng suối lẻ loi…

Người về miền xuôi - Phạm Duy 

hi chép linh tinh trên đường thiên lý ra đất Bắc… Ai về Bắc, ta đi với; Thăm lại non sông giống Lạc Hồng… Đôi khi phải hơi điên điên một chút, phải có cái nhìn bóp méo thực tế (reality distortion field) một chút, cười khinh khỉnh vào cái thực trạng xã hội bullshit bây giờ, để tâm quan sát, tìm kiếm… thì mới nhìn ra những điều tốt đẹp xưa cũ, mới nhận ra đâu là cái chất Việt thuần hậu!

HÀ NỘI

Cái logo di sản văn hoá phi vật thể của Unesco có thể được thấy trang hoàng khắp mọi nơi ở Hà Nội, cái hình tròn có lỗ vuông ở giữa, nhìn giống đồng tiền xu cổ, hình như phản ánh đúng thực tế Hà Nội bây giờ: vật giá ngày càng đắt và con người ngày càng rẻ!

BÁI ĐÍNH

Quy mô rất hoành tráng (dù điều đó chẳng có gì khó với kỹ thuật xây dựng hiện đại), nhưng đường lối kiến trúc đúng chất Việt, từ lầu chuông gác trống cho đến đường nét các mái, kèo, xà, cột… không tạp nham, lai căn, vớ vẩn kiểu Đại Nam, Suối Tiên…

TRÀNG AN

Sơn thuỷ hữu tình, thật là nơi quyến rũ lòng người! Nước suối trong vắt, cá chép vàng choé lượn lờ dưới đáy rêu, các loài thuỷ cầm tự nhiên: cốc, vịt… bơi lội tự do! Sẽ có một ngày ta mang chiếc xuồng ra đây chèo đi chơi bằng hết các ngõ ngách sông ngòi và hang động!

SAPA

Ở Hà Nội, người ta bắt chuyện với mình bằng tiếng Anh, còn ở đây, người ta nhận ra ngay người Việt. Xứ sở của lạnh giá và sương mù, phong cảnh thiên nhiên tuyệt đẹp! Con người ta sống giản đơn, và cũng học đòi những thói xấu hiện đại… theo cách đơn giản!

Vốn không sợ độ cao, nhưng thỉnh thoảng vẫn cảm thấy ngợp trước núi đồi trùng điệp nơi đây. Sapa mùa này, phải thật kiên nhẫn mới chụp được một khung hình đẹp, ánh mặt trời rạng rỡ chỉ hiện ra vào một vài thời khắc hiếm hoi trong ngày, khi màn sương mù lạnh giá tạm vơi bớt.

Đa số chúng ta (kể cả tôi) tới đây với mong muốn có được những khung hình đẹp, nhưng phải chăng đó là tất cả mục đích của hành trình? Suy rộng ra, cái câu hỏi: chúng ta tới đây để làm gì? ấy, nếu ai đó còn có trong đầu một câu trả lời, tức là còn… chưa trả lời được vậy! 😀

Những cung đường Tây Bắc không dành cho người yếu tim, chỉ một giây lơ là mãi ngắm nhìn cảnh quang xinh đẹp là đã có thể lạc tay lái xuống vực. Khác với thời tiết 3°C mấy ngày đầu lên đây, những ngày sau ấm hơn và có nắng, hôm nào máy ảnh cũng hết sạch pin rồi mới trở về!

LAI CHÂU

Đèo Ô Quý Hồ, dài và hiểm trở, cắt ngang qua dãy Hoàng Liên Sơn, đổ từ độ cao 2000 m xuống 1000 m, đúng nghĩa là dốc thăm thẳm. Một bên là đỉnh Phan Xi Păng, bên kia là huyện Tam Đường, Lai Châu. Bên này đèo thời tiết ấm và khô, bên kia, phía Sapa, lạnh và ẩm.

Cả một vùng Tam Đường, Phong Thổ, Sìn Hồ, t.p Lai Châu tương đối ít núi cao, khí hậu ấm hơn, đất đai cũng rộng rãi hơn, con người cũng có phần cởi mở, thân thiện hơn. Hôm nay cũng là ngày Tết của họ. Tiếc là đã đến Sìn Hồ mà không đủ thời gian để đến Pú Đao…

BẮC HÀ

Đi chợ phiên Bắc Hà đầu năm (cách Sapa hơn 100km), tình cờ ghé qua đây, ngồi bên ngã ba sông Hồng và sông Nậm Thi, cầu Cốc Lếu, bên kia sông là Hà Khẩu, Trung Quốc. Và cũng thật tình cờ, mùa này tháng 2, chính xác là ngày 17 tháng 2, đúng 35 năm trước

Phiên chợ đầu năm chưa đông, nhưng đã rực rỡ sắc mầu, riêng người Mông đã có 5 sắc khác nhau (đen, hoa, xanh…), người Dao có đến 23 nhóm nhỏ (đỏ, đen, xanh, trắng…), lại còn Thái, Tày, Nùng, Dự, Giáy… Học cách phân biệt các sắc mầu cơ bản cũng đã hết cả một buổi.

Khá nhiều địa danh vùng Đông Bắc, Tây Bắc Việt Nam có nguồn gốc từ tiếng Hoa, chính xác hơn là phát âm theo tiếng Quan Thoại giọng vùng Vân Nam, Trung Quốc. Ghi lại ở đây một số từ phổ biến:

tả – 大 – đại – lớn: Tả Van
séo – 小 – tiểu – nhỏ: Séo Tung Hồ
lao – 老 – lão – già, cũ: Lao Chải
sìn – 新 – tân – trẻ, mới: Sìn Hồ
phìn – 坪 – bình – bằng: Tả Phìn
thàng – 塘 – đường – ao, đê: Lùng Thàng
chải – 寨 – trại – trang trại: Mù Cang Chải
cai – 街 – nhai – ngã tư: Si Ma Cai
hồ – 河 – hà – sông: Ô Quý Hồ
chéng – 江 – giang – sông: Sín Chéng
cấu – 沟 – câu – suối: Cán Cấu
san – 山 – sơn – núi: Phìn San
sàng – 上 – thượng – bên trên: Sàng Chải
sả – 下 – hạ – bên dưới: Sả Séng
tung – 中 – trung – ở giữa: Tung Chải
tra – 家 – gia – nhà: Má Tra
sa – 沙 – sa – cát: Sa Pa
sử – 石 – thạch – đá: Mù Sử
lủ – 路 – lộ – đường: Ma Lủ
ma – 馬 – mã – ngựa: Ma Sa Phìn
lùng – 龍 – long – rồng: Lùng Phìn
giàng – 羊 – dương – con dê: Giàng Phìn
nàn – 南 – nam – phía nam: Nàn Sán

HÀ GIANG

Đã Hà (河) lại còn Giang (江), nơi đây có rất nhiều suối, sông nhỏ chảy dọc theo thung lũng, bản làng cũng nương theo đó hình thành. Những ngôi nhà sàn của người Tày dài thậm thượt, ruộng nương xanh tốt. Hà Giang là vùng đất mà tôi thích nhất trong số những vùng đã đi qua!

Cao nguyên đá Đồng Văn, như bị lạc vào một ma trận, một sa mạc đá. Đá mọi nơi, nhìn hoa cả mắt, thi thoảng mới thấy chút xíu đất có thể trồng trọt. Gió lạnh căm căm thổi suốt ngày đêm, một cái lạnh khô khốc, các làng xã đều xây hồ treo lớn chứa nước phòng khi hạn hán.

Cuộc sống nơi đây cực kỳ khắc nghiệt, thế nhưng khác hẳn với cái nhếch nhác vùng Sapa, cư dân nơi đây có vẻ chỉnh tề, quy củ, kỷ luật, từ y phục cho đến sinh hoạt, sản xuất, vui chơi. Cảm thấy được nghị lực và sức sống vươn lên từ vùng sa mạc đá này!

Tp. Hà Giang, Quản Bạ, Yên Minh, Đồng Văn, Mèo Vạc, về lại Hà Giang, một vòng 300 km. Làm 2 vòng như thế theo 2 chiều ngược nhau để không bỏ sót điều gì… nhất là Mã Pí Lèng hùng vĩ nhất VN, con đèo mà nhiếp ảnh nghiệp dư như tôi không thể nào lột tả hết được.

Không quên ghé qua Sủng Là, nơi quay phim Chuyện của Pao. Bây giờ đúng vào mùa hoa tam giác mạch tim tím và hoa cải vàng ươm nở rộ trên cao nguyên hun hút gió. Đến để biết rằng một không gian như thế, những con người như thế… là điều hoàn toàn có thật!

Kể chuyện đi ăn cháo ấu tẩu tại Hà Giang. Ấu tàu là loại củ kịch độc, dùng làm thức ăn phải qua chế biến kỹ càng. Bữa đầu tiên, bát cháo có mỗi lát ấu tẩu bằng cái móng tay. Ngồi nói chuyện trên trời dưới đất với vợ chồng chủ quán, phong thái người Bắc xưa, chẳng có gì giống Bắc bây giờ, đã thấy là một chuyện lạ (nghĩ bụng là dạng Kinh già hoá Thổ, người xuôi lên mạn ngược lập nghiệp lâu đời, giữ nguyên giọng nói, phong cách xưa cũ). Đến bữa thứ hai, ngoài vài lát ấu tẩu, còn được thêm cái móng heo, thêm một chút lạ. Đến bữa thứ ba, thấy chuyện lạ nhất: được một tô toàn ấu tẩu, ăn đến phát ngán! 😀

tuế vãn

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text=江海寄浮生&font=1&size=17&color=0000FF

iết bởi thư hoạ gia Lê Quốc Việt, Văn miếu Quốc tử giám, Hà Nội, một ngày cuối năm Quý Tỵ. Lạc khoản đề: Tuế tại Giáp Ngọ niên chi mạnh xuân nguyệt cốc nhật – Kính phụng Khải Xuyên huynh thanh thưởng – Chân Thanh Bái Thư. Bảo: giống thư pháp Tống Huy Tông e chỉ là cách hiểu nông cạn bề mặt; có điều gì rất Việt trong thư pháp này! Đôi dòng nói thay ước nguyện năm mới! 😀

a watery saigon – 1

ade my first “departure” on this first day of the new year 2014, year of the horse; a 20 km paddling roundtrip. I want to see more of that same city, from a different point of view, not that usual view of most of the 20 – years – long living here. There is another completely different Saigon, a Saigon seen from water, as on flat land, for the most part, it’s a messy city. It took me a long time to get accustomed to its main roads, especially in the southern parts, as they usually turn around and around, forming untidy, complex, bizarre networks. But if you see them from the waterways perspective, the topologies immediately become clear and easy. That reminds me the essential geo – ecological things about this southern young, energetic city…

hello world – 1, part 7, rowing kit

oating progress has been stagnated lately… But really I’m interested in experimenting with rowing, another way of propelling the boat besides paddling. Rowing can help building other groups of your muscles, it could produce more torque to push the canoe forward under unfavourable wind and current conditions, it should increase sustainable speed significantly, furthermore, it’s good for long – range tandem trips: with two hands aboard, ones can take turn to row and to rest. First, I make a pair of 8 feet oars: 5 planks of wood is glued and screwed together to form the oar’s handle and blade. Next is scraping and planing them into their final shapes using my new, very useful tool: a power planer. Then the 4 feet 8 inches outrigger and flotations.

For the oars, I use a lighter wood, Vietnamese name: thao lao (Lagerstroemia calyculata Kurz); the white, fine grain wood traditionally used for building paddle, oar and rudder. Having density at about 0.9 (900 kg/m3), the wood is not as heavy and hard as căm xe (Xylia xylocarpa), but resists better to water. The oars handles’ ends would be attached with short aluminium tubes, which serve two purposes: 1. lengthen the oars to the full length of 2.4m (8 feet) and 2. the hollow tubes will be casted with about 1.5kg of lead each, to better balance the oars once they’re put onto the oarlocks, and hence reduce rowing effort. I’d also decided to use ready – made plastic fishing buoys for flotations, to make the outrigger construction simpler and easier.

Today, I took Hello World – 1 to dry dock for inspection, maintenance and more fitting. After almost 2 months on open water and under direct sunlight, mistakes in the building phase have been shown: 2, 3 small cracks on the outer fiberglass and epoxy layer at bottom aft, water has leaked into the aft watertight compartment (about a gallon), and the paint has been scratched at places… 😢 Also, I should have taken more care on the canoe’s storage and usage. Now I need to make some repairs: find the seal the leaks, repaint some small areas, lower the seats to improve stability, before being able to fit the rowing kit and other miscellaneous accessories: cleat and anchor, the light pole… It could take the next 2, 3 days to finish all these things!

Today, we tested the preliminary rowing kit, the result is very unsatisfactory 😢, but somewhat encouraging still. I’ll need to rethink about the designs, various flaws are spotted and to be rectified: the oars are too long and heavy, the oar locks are placed too low that they limit the rowing movements, flotations are not done yet… The only promising thing is that speed would surely get a huge improve, we was expecting to be able to sustain somewhere around 4, 5 knots (7 ~ 9 km/h), a great advantage (compared to paddling) for long – range cruising. But that would be the jobs of the coming (Lunar) new year, for now, all boating works will be temporarily suspended, as I’ve already got in my TODO list many other stuffs which have higher priority.

hello world – 1, part 6, accessories

ello World – 1 has been finished, and trials showed it’s an excellent boat for solo paddling, but there’s still much work to be done to make full use of the canoe. Various miscellaneous things: a raincoat to protect the hull from weather at docking, a pole to push the canoe forward in shallow water, also to mount a signal light for occasional night going, an apparent wind indicator (wind vane) to better observe wind condition, a hand pump to drain water out when it rains, an anchor to allow going fishing anywhere on the rivers around my area without having to find a tree or a buoy to attach the canoe to… Most important of all, I want to make a rowing kit: an outrigger with two flotation units to help stabilising the boat, and two long oars.

It could take a couple of weeks to finish everything, since I’ve just started the design, with some undecided considerations still. Slowly I would got each items done, first is the spade – shape anchor, I casted 1.5 kg of lead into the hollow space underneath, to concentrate weight into the tip (the anchor is a bit oversize and overweight for such a small canoe, some wrong calculation, but I would use it anyhow). 2 meters of steel chain, plus about 30 meters of rope will be enough for an anchorage almost anywhere. There’s still lots of works to be done, with possible more and more delay (the holidays, Christmas and New Year are coming). Meanwhile paddling is still my main pastime in a fresh morning, or in a calm sunset, any day in the week 😀.

For the past few days, I really enjoy night paddling: familiar enough with the region to navigate in the dark, northern wind has cool down the nocturnal temperature considerably, and houses, buildings along the rivers’ banks have been decorated with all kind of colourful LED and neon lights for Christmas and New Year holidays, creating picturesque and splendid sceneries. I was paddling among a dark, silent, wide space, only the marvellous lighting and the stars above the sky. Unfortunately, my GoPro camera is not very good at shooting in low – light environment, I would try to post some pictures instead, just to show how beautiful our city is this season, especially in this specific place on Crescent lake near Starlight bridge (hồ Bán Nguyệt & cầu Ánh Sao).

The more paddling I was practising, the more do I realise how much boating (and paddling, rowing, sailing, etc…) resembles life, it’s a microcosm, a metaphor for our lives, for the struggles and enjoyments we make. Any destination is just a temporary target, as life is a long journey on which we struggle to make the next leap, reaching the next milestone, while trying to enjoy the scenes on the way. And that’s why we should take our thinking, our words, our intentions, our jobs… seriously, just to make the journey a more lovely, pleasant promenade… Well, that’s enough of philosophy, 😀 I need to stop dreaming here and return to the actual works, refine my calculations, sharpen my skills… lots of things to be done in the up – coming year, year of the horse.

hello world – 1, part 5

was choosing a good day, and also waiting for the tide (it’s just after full moon and the water is low still), time seemed to be so long. Finally, christened, trialled the boat, and started its maiden voyage, all in this same day! 😀 First impressions: the boat is very agile, good speed, better than the plastic boats I used. It’s a real pleasure once you ride into, and the boat gets momentum after just a few paddling strokes, the feeling was light and firm. It tracks very straight, perhaps even too straight. On the minus sides: the canoe’s fat hull makes the turning angle a bit wide (it’s a bit difficult to turn quickly), and it’s somewhat shaky at times, probably because the seats are too high, maybe I should cut the seats’ legs down a bit to lower the center of gravity (or maybe not).

Some photos for now, would post in – action videos once I finish trialling the boat more thoroughly on longer distances… The last several days, I’ve finished two additional testings: one 10km run and another 15km run. Overall, I’m very pleased with the canoe’s performance. The sustained speed is improved by a small margin, from 5 km/h to nearly 6 km/h, but the paddling effort seems to be much less, I don’t feel that tired like with those plastic boats. The windage is good, given that the boat tends to keep straight very well, once it gets momentum, it doesn’t drift much under unfavourable wind. The rolling motion can be unpleasant for novice paddlers, but I’m ok with that still, actually I prefer to have some little shaking, after all, it’s not solid flat land, it’s bobbing water!

Some very beautiful scenes captured when trialling my new canoe. It rains sometimes, but the sky was clear was bright. Waterways in this region have lots of traffic, high buildings along the riverside, many activities afloat, most people I met was opened and friendly. And everyone was asking from where I bought such a nice and handy boat! 😀 And many ones who patiently spends hours along the banks for casual fishing look at me with envious eyes 😀! It is pure pleasure to enjoy the river in many of its status: tranquil, wavy, windy, sunny, rainy… all within one same day, and it is even more pleasant to enjoy all those things in a built – by – your – own – hands boat! Well… every journey begins with a single step… consider this first step successfully done! 😀

Today, I tested the canoe in tandem configuration, and I must admit, it’s a failure! The only point that I’m pleased with is that the boat is still very light and agile with two paddling hands, it’s very quick to get momentum, velocity is very good, and there’s less effort needed to propel the boat to optimal cruising speed. Things to be improved in tandem configuration: 1. distance between two seats is too tight, the paddles can collide if two hands are not paddling in sync; 2. the canoe rolls a lot, to the point of instability, the only cause is that seats are mounted too high. It’s a dilemma, I don’t really want to lower the seats, they make comfortable positions and reduce paddling effort. I’m considering possible fixes to this problem and would update the canoe in the upcoming weeks.

hello world – 1, part 4

he canoe construction has reached about 3/4 of the overall progress, but there’s still much work ahead. Lots of small errors and mistakes made here and there, lots of lessons learned, but I’m happy to see the general status of the canoe standing well. Since I’ve put more materials (epoxy, fiberglass, hard wood…) into the boat, its final weight might far exceed the projected 20 kg, but that’s not very important anyhow. If it’s too heavy to be easily carried on one’s back, I’ll make a simple carriage to help moving the thing (with my bicycle) around then! Although designed to be mostly a solo canoe, for now I see it can easily accommodate two persons and some little gears, making it a nice weekend fishing canoe very soon in the next 10 days or so! 😀.

10.     SEATS

One of the most important things when go paddling for extended time is… the seat. If you spend several hours mostly with your upper body in action while the lower part doesn’t move much, you’ll understand why a comfortable seat is very much needed. I’m gonna install two seats, to prepare the boat in tandem configuration. Usually, seats are just mounted (hang) against a single bilge, but I think that installation is too weak. Instead, I will make 4 legs to support a seat, each leg also serves to link 3 bilges together, hence strengthen the boat overall rigidity. It could take some times to cut and install the 8 legs into the correct shapes and positions, but if done properly, the boat structural strength would be much improved, that’s worth the efforts.

11.     PAINT

Next comes the job of painting… Unlike the old – day, one – part paint, which is simple to use, today two – part PU (polyurethanes) offers superior properties, but is more complex to work with. First I would need to sand the hull at 120 grit in preparation, then apply two layers of primer, sanding after each layer (150 & 180 grit), then apply two other layers of main coats, then briefly sanding again at 240 grit, finally a topcoat of gloss. In total: 5 layers of paint and 4 times of sanding are required for the interior and exterior, a huge pile of work. I allocate 5 days (could be more) just for this painting job 😢! Actually, I don’t expect a really fine, shiny finish, and the topcoat would only be semi – gloss (or even satin – gloss), it just need to be smooth, that’s already good enough for me.

12.     FINISH

There’re still many small jobs that need to be done to finish the canoe: polish and varnish the naked wooden parts, cut and stick the decal decorations (boat name, owner’s contact information and especially the boat eyes, a must – have, intrinsic part of Vietnamese boats); apply the topcoat (a semi – gloss on top of the decals to protect them from the weather), adjust and fit the two seats, fit two handles at two ends to help lifting the boat… and some other miscellaneous items (styrofoam fenders…) I intend to build also a simple trailer (some wooden planks with two small wheels) to reduce the burden of moving a 35 kg mass on longer distances. Thinking like if I can wait one and a half month to get the boat done, I can wait a few more days to go paddling in it! 😀

hello world – 1, part 3

aving worked with epoxy resin when setting up the workshop, I’ve gained some experiences with it. When mixing component A & B together, the pot time is so short in tropical climate, as the rule states that: reaction time is reduced by half when room temperature increased by 10° Celsius, I usually have less than 3, 4 minutes before it hardens. The average day temperature in Saigon this season is around 33° ~ 36°, it makes a tedious task working with epoxy, quite many times did the mixed epoxy burn hot into smoke before I can use it all. Epoxy also exhibits the characteristic of a “chain reaction”: it easily burns hot when the mixing weigh exceeds a “critical mass” of just 30 grams or so (depending on temperature), forcing me to mix into smaller batches.

7.     GLASSING

Finally, I devised a trick to cope with the situation: before mixing, I put the components A & B into the fridge for an hour 😀, to cool them down and lengthen reaction time, giving me more time and flexibility. Also, I would glass at night to avoid the higher day temperature. For the fiberglass fabric, I can only find cloth of 1m width at the current time, not enough to cover the whole canoe’s beam, but decided to proceed with it anyhow. The missing part will be left as is for the interior, and will be covered by other fiberglass pieces for the exterior. Though glassing would add about 2 ~ 2.5 kg to the final boat weight (just estimate, I use 6 oz, or 200 gram/m2 cloth), it would re – enforce the hull with more stiffness, anyhow this is my first build and rigidity is a bigger concern over weight.

8.     FITTING

The hull is now completed, the next step involves many small works that help building up the boat structurally: fit the forward and aft bulkheads (I decided to seal the water – tight compartments permanently and not to use hatches for later maintenance), fit the inner gunwales, fit the forward and aft thwarts, then fit the outer gunwales, then fit three bottom runners (to protect the boat when touching ground), and some other miscellaneous works. It seems there’s alway more effort and time spent in each step than I originally planned, partly because I’m an inexperience first – time boat – builder, partly cause I want to do it carefully to learn and improve my skills. It’s just like when you go on long – range paddling: don’t think about the destination, concentrate on each steps!

9.     MORE FITTING

For the gunwales, thwarts, seats… my chosen wood was a very hard and heavy tropical one, Vietnamese name: căm xe (Xylia xylocarpa) and the choice was not quite right. Having density at 1.15 (1150 kg/m3), the wood is too hard to bend into desired shapes, it’s even hard to saw or to chisel. I was thinking of setting up boiling devices to steam and bend the wood, but it requires much more effort, so finally I decided simply to compromise and change the design: instead of “flush decks” at bow and aft, I lower them a bit to fit with the “sunken” gunwales. Also, I’m worrying that this wood would add much more weight into the boat. On the plus side, hard wood makes the boat more sturdy, and if done right, its grain and colour would be very nice after polishing and varnishing.