April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Boat Repair

Do you remember the boat that was in our house when we first visited in July 2007?

It was still there when we moved in in November 2007. It stayed for December...and January....and on and on. We got used to using it as a type of bench. Then April told the owner that she was going to move it...he just needed to say where to put it.

Then the first weekend of May 2008 (less than 2 weeks after April asking where to put it), we came home to find that the boat was no longer there. Our neighbor had finally moved it into his front yard. It stayed there for about a month, before moving into the Casa Comunal (a very similar design to our house, but much bigger) across the field. Over the course of the last year, they worked on it, practically taking it apart and expanding it into something larger. The finished boat was about 1 1/2 feet wider and a couple of feet longer than the original. They put fiberglass on it, and put it in the water around January of this year.

And the fiberglass separated.

So they pulled it out in the cove near our house, cut off the fiberglass, and put on a new layer (ouch, expensive mistake, since everyone would like to fiberglass their boats to make them last longer and float lighter, thus using less gas, but it isn't cheap).

Then they pushed it back into the water.

(Check out those long legs helping to push)

After cutting some lengths of a trash tree (grows really fast, dies fairly soon, and isn't good for anything other than making O2) to serve as rollers, they recruited a bunch of neighbors and kids to move it back into the water.

(Almost there, although if it were a really high tide, it would already be in the water)
Someone gets the job of running the logs around to the front once we've rolled off the back ones, since they haven't lined the entire length to the water.

(At last, it makes it into the water; it is one of the brighter boats in our community)
This time, the fiberglass held and the boat has been put to work fishing and transporting people and stuff. It is a bit larger than most of the boats folks use around the island, but makes for a nice ride to port, with the little casita to shelter from sun and rain.
We are seeing an increasing number of boats that are either all fiberglass ($$$$) or have a fiberglass layer on the bottom ($$). For those of you who remember Allie's boat that Pedro was building, it is still sitting pretty in his front yard waiting for the plata (money) to finish it.
The art of making and using an all wooden boat is not lost in our community, but in our two years here we have seen an acceleration of the change away from natural local materials. We have also seen at least one small boat handmade from a single log...but there are not that many big logs anymore to use this way. Things will always change, the changes just feel faster sometimes when you can actually see them in progress.

1 comment:

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