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Old 14-07-2010, 01:25   #1
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Mekong River Catamaran Using 5,000 Plastic Bottles

Next week, we will begin building a 9m Cat using a teak wood frame and about 5,000 plastic bottles which have been collected in and around the Mekong River in Thailand.



The goal of this charity project is to use the boat to help educate locals about protecting the Mekong River. Once the boat is built it will sail from northern Thailand, through Laos, and back here to Nong Khai, stopping at villages along the way and encouraging them not to throw trash in their river. If successful, the journey will continue down the Mekong until we reach Cambodia.

Here is a pic of a pontoon without bottles.


And one with bottles.


What the boat will eventually look like.


I decided to put up this construction log so that other cruisers can make suggestions or just follow along through our misadventures. I've never built a boat before so I'm sure we'll be making some mistakes along the way.

We will hopefully receive our first supply of donated wood this week. So, if all goes as planned, our carpenter will start building the frame next week!!
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Old 14-07-2010, 02:08   #2
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I am often in that neck of the woods - why use teak (MaiSak) , its very heavy and in short supply. Many alternatives.
I built a similar pontoon boat for the Mae NamKok in Northern Thailand (trib to the Mae Kong) I used the big blue 40 gal plastic barrels one sees for sale all over Thailand
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Old 14-07-2010, 02:22   #3
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Sawasdee Laidback!

Sorry, it's actually not teak. I was mistaken. The type of wood being used is called tra-kian-tong. I can't find a translation of it in English. Do you know?

We don't want to use those big plastic barrels because the project is suppose to show what can be done with regular house-hold trash.
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Old 14-07-2010, 03:11   #4
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Wadikrap Isara, Sabaidi bor,

The North East Thai have 2 names for this tree ( Latin - Genus Hopea)
The first is Mai Takian
The second is Mai Takiantong - this is the name give if the tree exudes an oil when it is cut - It is firmly believed that the Mai Takiantong is inhabited by a female spirit (Phee phuying)
Recently a Takiantong spirit took possession of a female medium who provided locals with lottery numbers - the organizers of the gambling lost a lot of money and arranged the killing of the medium.
--------
The wood from Mai Takian trees is used for floor boards - beautiful heavy wood and very expensive. People are very careful to know the wood's origin before they use it.
---------
I was not suggesting using barrels - your plastic bottles good idea.

Wadi
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Old 14-07-2010, 03:44   #5
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Thanks for the information, Richard. You sure know your stuff.

I had heard about that spirit story before. As you know, there's a lot of ghost and spirit stories around Thailand. Hopefully the spirit won't mind if we use the wood for something good. :-)

We were told this was the best wood to use for our boat. It's strong and won't be effected too much by the water. Fortunately, shops are donating the wood so we don't have to worry too much about it being expensive.

Do you know of any other kinds of Thai wood that are good for use on boats? If we can give shops an option of which to donate then I'm sure they'd appreciate it.
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Old 14-07-2010, 04:17   #6
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Wadi Isara,
There is a Danish friend across the river in Wianchan who restores old colonial houses
who may be a good source for all sorts of timber that could go to good use in your boat..
Send me a PM with your Email address and I will dig out his contact info.
Richard
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Old 15-07-2010, 20:26   #7
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Thanks for the contact info, Richard.

Yesterday we were fortunate to find a place that will build the entire boat frame for free. So our costs for this project just went down drastically. Which is always good news.
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Old 15-07-2010, 21:48   #8
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Good luck with it.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/090309-de-rothschild-plastic-boat-missions.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/03/09/plastic.bottle.boat/
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Old 16-07-2010, 07:34   #9
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The PlasTiki is nearing Sidney, Au.
The Plastiki Expedition
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Old 16-07-2010, 12:48   #10
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Send a message via Yahoo to ArtistVincent
Sounds like a great project I wish you much luck on your quest.
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Old 10-10-2010, 23:20   #11
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Just wanted to post a quick update.

Unfortunately, there was a delay of about 2 months while we searched for a company that could donate all the wood and also find local carpenters who make the frame (for free). But, I'm happy to say, we found some BIG help and now the wood has been received and the carpenters have started building it!!!







Sometime this week they will complete the second pontoon and then we'll take it to the Mekong River to test it. If the tests prove successful we'll start constructing the small passenger cabin and then equip the boat with hardware and electronics.

In August, we were fortunate to receive some publicity from a Thai TV show that made a one hour report about our organization and this project. The last part of the show talks about this river project and we also go on the river to look at the trash problem. Here is the last 10 minutes.
In the coming weeks we will definitely be coming to CF members for some technical advice, as we put everything together (steering, DC motor, batteries, controller, etc.).

Thanks CF!
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Old 10-10-2010, 23:39   #12
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The cabin windows look like a greenhouse to me. I would either make the cabin sides vertical and the cabin top wider so that you have more shade or I would be sure that all of the windows can open for ventilation. How many people will you have aboard?
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Old 10-10-2010, 23:59   #13
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Hi sww914. Thanks for the post.

It will just be me on the boat during the Mekong journey and I'll only be inside the cabin at night. There will be shades on the windows too. But I'll see if we can make it so the they can open up to let in some air-flow. Thanks!
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Old 12-10-2010, 20:25   #14
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After looking at the photos of your plans for the finished boat it appears that the bottles below the waterline will be exposed to the water. If that is correct how are you going to deal with all of the growth that will accumulate and the debris that will collect in them as well? Wouldn't it be better to cover them to prevent this?
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Old 12-10-2010, 22:44   #15
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Thanks for the questions, Ozbullwinkle.

When you say "cover them" do you mean make the entire hull water-tight or something else? Because a closed hull design wouldn't necessarily require any bottles to float and, for this project, we need the bottles below (and above) the waterline to be exposed so the project will have a bigger impact. Is there some other way we can utilize the buoyancy of the bottles but still have them covered?

We plan on putting a metal net around the hull, to keep the bottles in place and to help prevent large debris from reaching the bottles. Smaller debris will slowly accumulate between the bottles but I don't think it will effect the boat too much. We won't know for sure until we start testing the boat on the river.

Fortunately, the boat will be in the water for only about 2 months. The tests we've done on the bottles show that they remain water-tight for months, under extreme pressure. Also, placing a small amount of dry ice into the bottles, before being sealed, make the bottles extremely strong. You can actually drive a car over one and it doesn't crush it. We know the design is not the most efficient, and it will definitely drag a lot, but we'll be happy if the thing just floats.

Does anyone think the bow of the boat (which is partially closed) will have an adverse reaction on the rest of the hull?
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