Vietnam Wooden Boats

Sewn Plank Boat Building Project

March-April 2004, Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province 

Page 2 (page 1 shows the initial stages of construction)

The "sewn plank" boat was built in central Vietnam up through the 60's and early 70's. As with all traditional wooden boats built in Vietnam, the boat builders had no boat drawings to build the boats with, but rather a knowledge and skill handed down from generation to generation. This boat type was a high maintenance boat, could not tolerate the vibrations of engines and therefore was used primarily in inland waterways for people and cargo transport. Depending on the size and use, these boats were sometimes fitted with a sail or two.  The boat shown being built below and on page 1 is the only known replica of this boat in existence.    (Click on the pictures below to enlarge picture)  (Click here to see pictures of old sewn plank boats from the 60's.)

bbb1.jpg (94155 bytes)Work continues on sewing the fifth plank. The correct amount of tension mustbbb2.jpg (87659 bytes) be applied to the cables to hold the planks at the correct angle for sewing. bbb3.jpg (94681 bytes)
bbb4.jpg (95576 bytes) bbb5.jpg (86190 bytes)Tension is moved down the plank by Mr. Quang Le's son. bbb6.jpg (94916 bytes)The top plank/gunnel (upside down) has slots pre-drilled for sewing & lacing.
bbb7.jpg (96740 bytes)Another angle on maintaining tension. bbb8.jpg (99097 bytes)The sewing progresses towards the bow. bbb9.jpg (97187 bytes)
bbb10.jpg (94741 bytes) bbb11.jpg (89945 bytes)Lots of interest from other workers in the area. bbb12.jpg (66474 bytes)Sewn joints in various stages of construction.
bbb13.jpg (69158 bytes)More shims are prepared for insertion. bbb14.jpg (84555 bytes)Steve Jones, project photographer to the right, seems to draw the children. bbb15.jpg (83401 bytes)The boat's lines are shaped and the five major planks assembled.
bbb16.jpg (85927 bytes)View from the stern. bbb17.jpg (76611 bytes)Fusion of the joints forward. bbb18.jpg (71010 bytes)The sewn bundle is trimmed as it is completed.
bbb19.jpg (48018 bytes) bbb20.jpg (72892 bytes)Nine bolts were used on the hull to strengthen three of the plank joints. bbb21.jpg (74259 bytes)
bbb22.jpg (74018 bytes) bbb23.jpg (82716 bytes)Mr. Quang Le saws one of the two paddles for the boat. bbb24.jpg (69657 bytes)
bbb25.jpg (80249 bytes)A close-up view of the joint construction. bbb26.jpg (70055 bytes)The bow has carved eyes typical to Quang Tri province boats. bbb27.jpg (57060 bytes)Special braid for the bow.
bbb28.jpg (67508 bytes) bbb29.jpg (88164 bytes) bbb30.jpg (100740 bytes)
bbb31.jpg (118956 bytes)The completed boat is being fitted for a crate for shipping. bbb32.jpg (121534 bytes) bbb33.jpg (170234 bytes)
bbb34.jpg (106521 bytes)The stern is solid. bbb35.jpg (96540 bytes)Mr. Khan, Head of Dept. of Industries, inspects the boat with VNWBF pres. John Doney bbb36.jpg (110025 bytes)Mr. Quang Le (76) and his younger brother (72) pose with their boat, likely the last of this type they will build.
bbb37.jpg (108663 bytes)The builders with John Doney & Mr. Hai, the factory owner who arranged the boatbuilding. bbb38.jpg (69725 bytes) bbb39.jpg (78153 bytes)The hull shape is interesting and graceful.
bbb41.jpg (148206 bytes)Mr. Tran Phong (left) from the provincial Foreign Relations Dept. helped coordinate the project.

Most of the photos on these two pages were taken by Steve Jones of Nha Trang and a few by John Doney.

bbb42.jpg (150996 bytes)Huong Jones, wife of Steve Jones, was key in helping to interpret during the project.

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