Monday, March 5, 2018

Traditional Fishing Schooner Launched in Northern Vietnam

After Ken Preston saw my previous post about Vietnamese basket boats, which included one of his photos from his website Boats and Rice, he contacted me about another interesting and beautiful Vietnamese boat he was privileged to sail on recently.
Sailing fishing boat, Quang Yen, Vietnam. Photo Ken Preston.
Newly launched traditional fishing boat, Quang Yen, Vietnam. Photo: Ken Preston. Rights reserved/used by permission. (Click to enlarge.)
This type of sailing fishing boat from northern Vietnam went out of use some decades ago with the proliferation of engines. Ken hesitates to call this boat a "replica," because it was built authentic to tradition in every respect by an 11th-generation boatbuilder who worked on them many years ago (and who continues to do business building more contemporary wooden fishing boats). It simply IS one of the type, albeit separated by many years from the rest. 

The video shows the boat getting under way and looking quite lovely sailing up- and down-wind. The video was shot by one of Mr. Chan's sons; Ken edited it and added the explanatory text.

The (apparently unnamed) boat was built in the boatyard of Mr. Le Duc Chan of Quang Yen, a short distance upstream of Halong Bay. It was commissioned by Dr. Nguyen Viet, an archaeologist with an interest in Vietnam's maritime heritage. Dr. Viet caused the construction of the boat to be scrupulously recorded in still images and video, with the assistance of a naval architect who also documented the boat and its construction for legal purposes.

The boat is of a type that would have been owned (and lived on?) by a family and used for commercial fishing. Dr. Viet's version is true to the original, lacking modern accommodations belowdecks. It is 34.6' LOD, 27.3' at the waterline, with a maximum beam of 11.7', a board-up draft of just 18", and a daggerboard-down draft of 5.4'. It is junk-schooner rigged, and according to Ken's lengthy, colorful blog post, it can be easily handled by a crew of two: one at the helm and mainsheet, another at the foresail. Ken describes its sailing behavior as extremely well-mannered, getting under way, answering the helm, coming about, dropping sail, and docking reliably and with a total lack of fuss.

Ken's article about the boat will appear in the May issue of WoodenBoat magazine. He also has a book about Vietnamese fishing boats, with some 500 photos plus text, coming out soon from Women's Publishing House of Ho Chi Minh City. An English-language edition will appear this summer, to be followed by a Vietnamese translation. Neither appears on the publisher's website at the time of this writing.