voiliers d’indochine – 3

ome texts quoted from the book, the English translation can only partially convey this old, romantic French writing style: if there is one region in the world where the picturesque ancient sailboat has sheltered and prevailed in its multiple facets, it is on the coasts of Indochina. A vast array of colours, the old scent of wood from the past… Nautical Indochina shows contrast especially in its fishing boats: each province has its own type of boat, all shapes of hulls, all the varieties of sails do their utmost to give us an image constantly renewed of maritime culture too regrettably ignored by the French and the Indochinese themselves. Very few are those who attempted to preserve their images, to describe their shapes, to speak of their poetry!

voiliers d’indochine – 2

r. Piétri was a biologist, and a biologist in the old days was trained in pen, ink anatomical drawing. His skill came into great uses for boats illustration. His writing style is that of a romantic, nostalgic, old – school sailor, he was describing something that would soon pass away in Indochina, as it already had in the Western world: large fleet of sailboats in their daily activities: fishing, cargo transporting… He provided various information into a beautiful world that has now gone, even today we still can find wood – workers who possess the knowledge of building traditional hulls in VN (the number of them can be counted with fingers on your hands), some in – depth details like blocks, tackles, shackles, lines, sails, rigging… can only be found in his book.

voiliers d’indochine – 1

onsieur Piétri was Director of Fisheries of Colonial French Indochina (Vietnamese: Giám đốc nha ngư nghiệp Đông Dương), his career may had taken him to many watery parts of Vietnam, but only his passion for boat and sailing that resulted in Voiliers d’Indochine (Sailboats of Indochina), a book he’d spent many years working on, in the 30s the previous century, first published in Saigon, 1943, two decades ahead of The Junk Blue Book. I was reading it through an English translation of The Vietnam wooden boat Foundation, and its foreword: dedicate to Mr. J B Pietri in recognition of his passion to accurately record the creativity and ingenuity of the Vietnamese people in the building of unique wooden boats…