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Old 18-05-2022, 01:04   #1
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24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

I have spent the last couple of years building a low cost, situation suitable cargo proa for servicing remote villagers. It was built in Brisbane and for various reasons (cost, convenience, publicity) shipped to Fiji for assembly and launch. Cargo Ferry – Harryproa

I arrived in Fiji 2 weeks ago and moved into a bure and office at the College of Appropriate Tech and Development (CATD) at Bau Landing, about 25 kms NE of Suva. The staff and students are lovely and very keen to help. They offered me use of their carpentry, plumbing and metal workshops and want input on how to include boatbuilding in the curriculum. We may build a mini cargo proa (foam, not ply) on weekends and evenings. They're also keen on swapping outboard motor petrol powerheads for electric.

Interest in the boat and climate change are high, far higher than in Aus. A World Bank report on how the Fiji Govt should instigate their sustainable agriculture agenda stated: "Key informants flagged domestic inter-island shipping as an area in need of development." and "There should be a push to work with the Sustainable Sea Transport Initiative, which is building a prototype of a sustainable inter-island vessel to provide services to more remote locations." The vessel is the cargo proa, SSTI are the local people helping smooth the way for it.

The first day here, I had a visit from the chief whose family owns a large chunk of Fiji, including the CATD site and several islands, one of which is Leleuvia which has an eco friendly resort on it. He is very keen on the cargo proa, asked me to spend the weekend at the resort and give a talk to 50 students from the International School who are there for a week.
Lelauvia is lovely, the students a lot of fun.
The barman collared me to tell me the cargo proa was just what was required for his village, when could we start?
I went for a sail/paddle, not much wind in a plywood outrigger, 70 of which were built for an Amazon TV show. The guys who look after it are finishing their Env Eng degrees, offered to work on the Cargo proa over their holidays.

The most common comment from pre teen students, hotel staff and taxi drivers all the way to high up in the public service and Government is that everyone is talking about green shipping, but only the cargo proa is doing anything. Gratifying for me, not so much for the planet.

TAUTOKU!!! Fijian for marvellous. The first container arrived, an hour later it's unloaded and the contents in the shed, 100m down a dirt track. Amusing comparing my efforts with the car, trailer and tractor vs 30 enthusiastic strong Fijians. Pick up the component, put it on their shoulders and take off down the track. Video https://www.facebook.com/www.catdnadave.ac.fj The long hull is being joined in a shed over an old slipway. The first bow section went on today. Horrible glassing job inside an 800mm/32" x 800mm/32" sweat box with fast resin.
Launching will be interesting, but easier and cheaper than the Brisbane scenario. Plus there are 80 students available for lifting and carrying.

Day before yesterday was my birthday. I walked into the food hall for breakfast and 80 students and several staff sang happy birthday Rob, with far more enthusiasm than it has ever been sung the previous 66 times. The students are trades apprentices, but they sing beautifully. First thing in the mornings, pre dinner and occasionally spontaneously, they perform. It's a great way to be woken in the morning.

Yesterday had a visit from a World Bank funded reef clean up project about shipping waste plastic (a big problem) from villages to the recycling depot in Suva. They looked at the boat bits scattered around the place and wanted to know how many cargo proas we could supply and when! The COO is a Swede with a lot of ocean sailing miles in self built boats. Reckons the cargo proa is the 'most functional sailboat' he has seen. At the end of the meeting they asked how long I would be here. I answered that it is a beautiful place, the people are exceptionally friendly, I get better care than in a hotel, up to 80 enthusiastic assistants at my beck and call and I spend all day playing with boat ideas. I won't be leaving anytime soon.

There is a build blog with more pics at Cargo Ferry Prototype – Harryproa

Rob
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Old 18-05-2022, 01:19   #2
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Brilliant use of appropriate technology. Well done Rob.
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Old 18-05-2022, 02:21   #3
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Did you build it for the estimated price?
"Estimated cost: $AUS250,000/$US175,000"
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Old 18-05-2022, 02:40   #4
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

GREAT stuff, Rob.
Thanks for sharing.

Sustainable Sea Transport Initiative
SSTI is the non-profit industry association for Sustainable Sea Transport in Fiji and Oceania, registered in Fiji. It aims at developing and promoting efficient supply-chain solutions incorporating the use of low or zero carbon emission vessels [like the HarryProa] in a socially and environmentally responsible way for the Pacific Island countries.
https://www.wind-ship.org/en/sustain...wsa-supporter/

Harryproa ➥ Harryproa

And ➥ http://harryproa.com/wp-content/uplo...a-May-2021.pdf
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Old 18-05-2022, 02:45   #5
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

I have always wanted to do something like this. Getting too late in the game for me now, but kudos to those who can !

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Old 18-05-2022, 07:33   #6
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

What a great idea for interisland transport.
jon
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Old 18-05-2022, 13:18   #7
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sand crab View Post
Did you build it for the estimated price?
"Estimated cost: $AUS250,000/$US175,000"
The materials cost $AUS40,000 and another old guy and I spent 13 months of 40 hour weeks building it. Plus another 3 months of experimenting, testing and changes. The shed was provided gratis by University of Queensland, along with some occasional student labour. So probably not.

The test will be what it costs to produce them. It looks like we have a site here in Fiji for a shed, training facilities and an 'innovation centre' to explore green materials and build improvements. Labour here is pretty cheap and we will be asking anyone who will listen about the best production techniques, plus a redesign to correct any shortcomings we find in the testing and to make them easier to produce.

There are a couple of sail assisted ships in the pipeline. Cost is $5 million plus, spent in Korea or China, plus huge running costs. We could build a lot of cargo proas in Fiji for this money, with near zero running costs, apart from wages.

Fun times.
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Old 19-05-2022, 16:57   #8
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Restores faith in the human condition. Well done.
Is this the alterative to what is happening in Samoa with the Chinese moving in?
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Old 19-05-2022, 19:59   #9
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Wow. Fascinating. Inspiring...a wonderful uplift to follow. CONGRATULATIONS!
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Old 20-05-2022, 00:31   #10
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

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Originally Posted by billgewater View Post
Restores faith in the human condition. Well done.
Is this the alterative to what is happening in Samoa with the Chinese moving in?
That's out of my league. It's just an attempt to (hopefully) show there is a way to reduce emissions and provide remote villages with a decent freight/passenger service.


Thanks for all the encouragement.
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Old 20-05-2022, 03:05   #11
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Really cool.
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Old 21-05-2022, 15:32   #12
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Well done Rob,
I visited your Brisbane "boat shed" couple of years ago when you were completing the Harryproa tender which I think fits inside the big one. It seemed then you had an enormous task ahead of you, now completed. I was interested in a much smaller version suitable as a trailer sailer, but I couldn't see a convenient fold to fit on trailer as well as using it for accommodation on the road. I have been looking at the Surtees/jaguar S-22 option with larger cabin of late but haven't forgotten the Harryproa.
Thank you for your valuable time back then
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Old 12-06-2022, 23:04   #13
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Finally got 5 kgs of epoxy. The hardener was faster than the stuff we used in the Marshalls and just as much a challenge, especially working inside the 800mm/32" x 800mm/32" hull. I managed to get the first bottom joined and the mast step stringers in using 200g /7 oz mixes, but it was a near thing. I used bundles of tow instead of fillets on the stringers to increase the join strength. Worked well.

The 2nd end was more challenging as it was twisted (my fault, shouldn't install bulkheads on a gravel slope). A couple of judicious cuts and it all went together, but there was some unpleasant grinding to do inside once the hull was on it's side.

I glassed the outside of the joins from waterline to waterline over the deck and wrapped the top mast rings in tow. Looks OK and seems strong.

I spent the first couple of weeks here trying to figure out how to insert the masts. I finally looked up and saw the great big tree next to the slip. A student slung a line over a branch, I rigged a block and tackle and after a few adjustments ("one two three, slide" and 20 students move the hull ) the 1st mast was in. The second one won't be so easy, we may need to tip the boat on it's side, which is tricky as it will need to be in the water to get the mast step under the tree.. I was discussing this with the head gardner (CATD is almost self sufficient, the students do the gardening under supervision) who came up with a typically out of the box soultion. Pics next update.

I bit the bullet on the beams that Rassy and I had spent so much time and effort building and trimmed off the loop on the end and replaced it with multiple dyneema wraps. Means the mast can be raised and the beams installed afterwards, which makes everything (including the build of the next one), much easier.

After a hot day's work one of the students asks if I want a coconut drink. Sure, I say. He shinnys up the tree in no time flat and tosses down half a dozen nuts. One of the others holds a nut in his hand and hits it with 6 machete blows to de husk it and open the top. OHS's worst nightmare, but these guys do it all the time. The juice is lovely, as refreshing as a cold beer.

Apart from spending time mixing teaspoons of epoxy, why isn't work proceeding faster?

It rained for the first 2 weeks. The shed is fine unless a strong breeze blows rain from the east, which it did. The boat is designed to be built with limited infrastructure, so this and intermittent electricity (4 all day power cuts in the last 2 weeks) are good learning experiences.
It's also hot. A good morning's work followed by a siesta then back to work until dark is pleasant, but not very productive.

We have plenty of important visitors, wannabe partners and potential funders who get guided tours. There is a fair bit of other stuff on the agenda around MOU's, grants, teaching and the future which all needs to be discussed. Fortunately, we are an hours drive from Suva, so only the keen visit, but there are still a lot of them.

The Fijian PM was going to visit CATD to open a conference and had asked for a briefing on and a look at the boat. Unfortunately, the Chinese foreign minister was visiting on the same day and he carries more clout than us, so the PM has postponed the visit.

Last weekend we were invited to Leleuvia to fix a busted outrigger. Took 30 minutes, spent the rest of the time relaxing. Met some influential people, all of whom were interested in the project. Half a dozen of them visited the boat on their way home. I'm busting to drop some names, but have been told not to. ;-)

It looks like we are setting up a joint venture to replace the petrol part of outboard motors with electric. Some impressive Australian technology involved at a reasonable cost. Waterproof to 1m, droppable on concrete from waist high, all plug and play so any busted components can be replaced on the beach, motor and prop properly matched.

We got a request from the UNDP to attend a meeting to discuss a grant application. Seems they have money available, but no projects that tick the necessary boxes. The cargo proa does. We shall see in August when the money is allocated.

How serious are the Fijians about cargo proas and green shipping? I took someone down to the slip to see what could be done about cutting up and removing the sand barge. He glanced at it, said, "No problem", turned around and said "What I want to talk about is the production factory." There is ~100m x 75m of flat land (currently a flourishing taro patch and 2 cargo proa sheds) and he wanted to know what a cargo proa building factory, with class rooms to teach modern and traditional sailing, building and navigation, a full width slipway, offices, maritime museum and an innovation and testing space would look like. Fortunately, Steinar is good at this sort of stuff and came up with a preliminary sketch. Everybody is pretty excited. The sand barge is still there, but hopefully not for long.
The students continue to delight. Drum roll (hollowed out log and 2 sticks, beaten fast) at 5.30am. I get up, make a pot of coffee and watch the sun rise while they sing hymns: a lovely way to start the day. When I lend them my tools (I an pretty sure my little sledge hammer was instrumental in the demise of the pig we had for dinner last night), they are always returned, often in cleaner condition.

I have built a lot of boats in the garage of various houses I've lived in, often upsetting the neighbours in the process. Here, when I start work, my neighbors turn up to see what is going on and offer to help. Refreshing.

A couple of days after my birthday, I was asked to visit the carpentry workshop. The guys had built me a tool box, turned it into a great big birthday card. The art and sign writing is all free hand with a texta. The artist is going to go to work on the cargo proa if/when I stop grinding bits off it.
Next update (mid July) should be a PR ripper.

More pics are at https://www.facebook.com/Harryproa/?ref=page_internal
and will be at
Cargo Ferry Prototype – Harryproa in a day or so.
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Old 13-06-2022, 03:08   #14
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Re: 24m/80' cargo proa arrives in Fiji

Really cool stuff, Rob. As always. Thank you for sharing.
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