February 10, 2003 - Bear Mountain Boat Shop: BUILDING A BEAR MOUNTAIN BOAT IN GUYANA

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guyana: Peace Corps Guyana : The Peace Corps in Guyana: February 10, 2003 - Bear Mountain Boat Shop: BUILDING A BEAR MOUNTAIN BOAT IN GUYANA

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 12:52 pm: Edit Post




Here's an interesting series of letters we received from Brian Tarallo, from the U.S. Peace Corps:

Dear Bear Mountain,

As promised, here's an update on the 16" Prospector I'm building in Guyana. We've decided on a wood for the planking, an indigenous wood called saury skin silver balli. The wood has been cut and dried, and we've begun to use your plans and specifications for molds to design and cut a series of ribs that will strengthen the hull of the boat in the absence of fibreglass.

I must thank you again for the gift of the plans. Hopefully the entire boat will be completed in the next two weeks, and its construction in our small community has caused enough of a stir that several people have expressed interest in purchasing one for themselves, including a rainforest resort across the river. Canoe building, hopefully, fill the gap created by increased competition of large-scale boat builders and revitalize boat building here in our town.

I'm attaching a photo of the silver balli planks. If you'd like to see more photos of Bartica and its environs, log on to http://photos.yahoo.com/bjtara and click on "Guyana." I'll send more canoe-related photos via email as soon as I can get them developed.

Thanks again! Brian Tarallo U.S. Peace Corps

Dear Bear Mountain,

Here's the first of the photos I promised you. It's of myself and Melville, the local boat builder, studying your plans. In the background is his shop and some of the speedboats he's built.

The past month has been spent going over them and trying to figure out how to get as close to your design as possible with the technology available here in Guyana.

Unfortunately, fibreglass is too expensive to make a true cedar strip canoe a viable product down here. What we've come up with to lower the cost and increase the strength is a series of ribs along the inside of the boat. The design we've come up with is really an amalgamation of your canoe design and the wooden speedboats built here. You did all the hard work for us; the difficult part was getting a set of measurements that would give us a working canoe.

Cedar was also not available. We tested dozens of different types of wood to come up with an alternative based on strength, flexibility, weight, and cost, and we finally decided on "Silver Belly Saury Skin," (that's how they pronounce it at least. We're currently in the process of harvesting and preparing the wood (yup, we're cutting it right out of the rainforest) and, hopefully, will be finished at the end of the week.

It looks like the boat will be finished in a couple of months, and hopefully the idea will take off and serve to boost the local boat building shops here. You can expect regular updates of our progress.

Thanks again!!
Brian Tarallo
U.S. Peace Corps

Dear Bear Mountain Boats,

Our canoe, based on your Prospector design, is nearing completion. The skeletal rib design we built to strengthen the boat given the lack of fibreglass has been a trial and error process, but has yielded magnificent results. The planks we used had to be much wider than those called for in your plans in order to strengthen the hull and minimize the amount of epoxy necessary, but have also produced encouraging results. We're now in the last phase of sanding and filling gaps; soon we'll build the seats and attach the gunwales, leaving the final step of "varnishing," as they call it down here.

The best part of working from your plans has been the strength of the design, which has allowed us to construct a spectacular boat in spite of the lack of resources. The local boat builder heading up the construction has already received orders for at least three more canoes, and the word is spreading.

I'd like to get your advice on kayak plans. I have a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer friend who desperately misses her touring kayak and wants to use your plans to build a boat of her own (we'll of course pay for this set). Given the roughness of the river here (which can get to almost ocean-like chop) and her medium, athletic build, I was thinking along the lines of the Endeavour 17 or the Resolute 16-6, mostly leaning towards the Endeavour.

Thanks again for your help and support.
Brian Tarallo
U.S. Peace Corps

Dear Bear Mountain,
I'm just back from our first trip with the canoe. We paddled over ten miles to the resort that has placed an order for additional canoes. I'm including photos of the finished boat, and I look forward to your impressions of it.

Thanks again for your support.

Brian Tarallo
U.S. Peace Corps

Dear Joan and Ted,

It's a big thrill to see my photos and letters on your website. I feel like a minor celebrity.

Business is booming for us. Orders for new canoes are backing up, from locals, resorts, and tourists that visit Bartica. We're currently trying to figure out how to ship them overseas. We're also trying to figure out if we can use the same technique to build one of your kayaks. I'll be a frequent visitor to your website to check out updates and ideas on boat building.

I THINK there's Peace Corps in Belize; if you see any volunteers, let them know that building a canoe is a great project. Thanks again!

--Brian Tarallo
U.S. Peace Corps

Dear Bear Mountain,

I hope you've had the chance to see more photos of the canoe as they've been posted in my photo album (http://photos.yahoo.com/bjtara Click on Guyana then Canoe Building)

We're at point where we'd like to start marketing to resorts and visitors to Bartica, and possibly to buyers overseas. I'm in the process of making a brochure that describes the construction process and specifics of the boat, and I'd like to credit Bear Mountain with the design. Will you give me your permission to include your name and website in the brochure? I'll of course send you a copy of it once it's finished.

Thanks again.
--Brian Tarallo
U. S. Peace Corps

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guyana; Special Interests - Boats



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