Friday, June 21, 2013

The Practicality of the Philippine Banca

Beautiful curves on the sheer and outrigger booms on this Philippine banca. The booms are carefully chosen for their curves from the branches of a native thorn tree. Each side of each boom is a single branch, lashed together where they overlap amidships. (Copied from the Facebook page of Tropical Boats, a cultural tourism company.)
A new comment by Robert La Quey on an old post about Philippine bancas seemed so interesting that I want to highlight it in its own post. Here's his comment:
I can assure you that bangcas are alive and well. If you show any narrow boat to a filipino fisherman he will immediately suggest that you add outriggers and bamboo amas. First and foremost most bangcas are rafts for working t sea and so stability is king. But fast access from the shore to the workplace off shore is essential as well. So the narrow hulls, easily driven by very inexpensive single cylinder pump motors. I have tried and tried but it is damn difficult to design a boat that is a better match to the requirements of the typical Filipino than the bangca.
Flat bottom bangcas built of plywood are emerging. Planing boats, very fast on and off shore. Many variations but all have the classical bangca outrigger setup with bamboo amas.

Photos of our bangcas here
and here

For those of you who don't do Facebook (poor, benighted souls), here's the "About" verbiage concerning Mr. La Quey's business, Tropical Boats:
About  Tropical Boats is for adventuresome tourists. We build boats and arrange tours in our own boats and can provide a wide variety of accomodations, ranging from tents to fine resorts. Create your dream vacation. We make it a reality. 
Mission  Tropical boats uses boat building to introduce tourists to another way of life ... that of the poor but free Filipino fisherman. Our mission is to open minds and hearts to realities not often considered in the developed world. 
Description  During a typical class at Tropical Boats you will build a Filipino bangka (outrigger canoe) during the first week. During the second week you will go fishing in your bangka with a Filipino fisherman. Food and accommodations will be provided as well as weekend entertainment.
This sounds like a fantastic vacation to me. Here's Mr. La Quey's contact info:
Phone: +63 947 949 5887

Copied from Mr. La Quey's Facebook page, I have no  information about this photo, but I love the way these little Philippine folks have their own beautiful little banca.
Macho Tsongo is a 10-meter banca based in Ligtasin Beach, "available for day trips around Matabungkay Bay and Fortune Island," according to its Facebook page, which continues: "We also provide custom tours for overnight camping and fishing around Caltagan Point to Balayan Bay and to areas around Lubang Island."


  1. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the blog post. I will be posting more links to your site on

    I am forever fascinated with the variety of boats that are to be found in SE Asia.

    Here is another incredible site for info on traditional boats from this area.

  2. A friend of mine, Carlos Solanilla, used 6 or 7 inch diameter 20 foot long bamboo sections to try a version of a Philipino double-outrigger. For the canoe hull he used a 20 foot, 18 inch wide proa hull. He and I were to sail the Everglades Challenge Race (300 miles, up to 6 days, in Florida) in this. I was very interested in how those long thin amas would behave. Unfortunately we started with light winds that first day, and were under-powered for safety "getting to know you" reasons (the boat had been completed and quickly tested hardly a day before it had to be packed up for its road trip to the start) and hard-to-find hull leak through a fitting sank us by the end of the day. But even so, with a little bit of crew attention to boat balance, those low-volume amas worked quite well. I could see how their light weight would aid the fisherfolk getting it on and off the beach, and stabilize the boat for coastal fishing -- a fine adaptation to conditions and needs. Horridge's excellent book, "Outrigger Canoes of Bali and Madura, Indonesia" is a treatment of outriggers with a somewhat similar need and function.

  3. I live in Kavieng New Ireland Papua New Guinea. 40% population live on islands. Seas can be very rough getting to outer island 2-3 hours off mainland. Coastal islands around Kavieng the seas not rough but commuting volume is high and costly. Every boat here uses Yamaha 40-60hp outboard motors that are very costly to run. I am looking for alternatives. I believe the Banca boat with high sides is the solution. I want to install your propulsion system into our common fibregass 'Banana Boat'. Later, import a few Banca with view to build here if viable. I write to ask your cooperation to export the Banca technology in a joint venture here.

    1. Steve: I'm posting your comment here only because you provided no contact info., so there's no other way to reply.
      We do not sell propulsion systems and have no contacts in that field. You've evidently misunderstood the purpose of this blog. Sorry, but we can't help you at all.