Boat Building




"Cikobia" story (Marama ni Wasalewa)

This story started rather a long time before December of 2005 when the boat arrived at ALSO Island for rebuilding.  The boat had stopped by ALSO Island first for some engine repairs and then later for an estimate of hull repairs.  Both the engine and the hull were in bad shape.  The boat was the only means of transportation to Cikobia Island, some 30 nautical miles off Udu Point.  When I first saw the boat I was asked to get the engine going again so they could continue their trip; I cried when they left, in fear for their safety.
They stopped by a number of more times for repairs and to discuss hull repair. 


We came to an agreement for repairing the hull.  Sometime after that but before they brought it for repair the engine lost its oil and seized.  The boat was left on the other side of their island where it foundered in some bad weather before they could get it back to their village.  When the weather cleared they raised it and got it back to their village.

About the same time the Divisional Planning Officer and I were talking about building them a new boat.  I found a suitable plan and worked up a bid.  After almost 2 years ALSO Island was awarded a contract to build a new boat, but funding never came through and it was never built.  Instead the money and more was spent on a completely inappropriate boat for the waters it was to sail.  It made one trip to the Island. 
In the meantime the people wanted the old boat going again.  After the government boat had been at Cikobia Island 3 times and refused to tow the boat back to ALSO Island for repair I went to see the boat with Peter of the yacht "Stelite" who was visiting.  We thought we might just tow it back and prepared to do just that. On the day we went to tow it back by the time we arrived the weather had changed, it was too rough and we decided that we could not tow the boat with the "ALSO V", a 19 foot runabout with a 40 horse outboard we left it behind too. 

A few months later I had an idea that I could mount my 40 horse outboard motor (from the "ALSO V") on the boat and bring it back.  A few weeks later I saw a weather window that I believed would allow us to go get it.  I asked for a volunteer and took Naquila, two drums of fuel, the chain saw, timber to mount the motor on the boat and we went to get it.  Naquila and I arrived at Cikobia mid afternoon and worked right up to dark getting the outboard motor mounted.  We had dinner, stayed the night and left at first light the next morning.  We made it back with out incident, just as the weather started to turn.  But look at the photos and take note of the condition of the boat when we got it back and blocked up in the shed!  It still scares me to think we brought it across 30 miles of very nasty open water in that condition! 


But we made it back, got it up on shore under the canopy and started dismantling the boat looking for what was good and could be saved.  At one point I thought we were going to have to burn the whole thing.  In the end we replaced one small area of the bottom, repaired one short bad piece in the chine log, put a sister bottom on and then fiber glassed it; spliced in some new wood in the keel, spliced in new planking on the lower part of the free board, put on a sister transom, installed new plywood (epoxy treated) decks and built a whole new superstructure.  The engine was replaced with a more modern, and appropriate, 4 cylinders Ford of 80 horse power.  Now we had a boat that is better than it was when it was new.  It gave them good safe service until it was lost in Cyclone Tomas.  To ensure that it would give good safe service we did a lot of strengthening of the boat; by adding cross timbers under the floor, side blocking many of the joints, all with liberal use of epoxy, fiberglass,  new timber, and plywood.  In other words we completely rebuilt the boat.  That is the reconstruction story.

The rest of the story is:  We started the dismantling when we got the boat back to ALSO Island so we could prepare an accurate estimate.  By that time the Divisional office had agreed to help with financing of the project.  (We had been paid for going to get the boat, but that was all.)  Then the Divisional Planning officer that I was working with us got transferred.  No more money was coming.  So eventually we scarffed in new planking, put a protective coat of paint on what was remaining of it and put it out on anchor.  As I suspected, when word of the boat being out on anchor got around; some people got moving on the money issue.  We had talk of money, promises of money, but no money for about 9 months.  Then the Provincial Office got involved and came up with some money.  At that point we purchased material and brought the boat back to the shed to begin the rebuild.

It took 4 months.  It seemed every time we were getting along there was a funeral and we would loose a week, then the weather would come out of the North and get every thing wet and bring things to a stand still.  Anyway, we finished it and it worked well.  I am sure that it would have lasted another 10 years were it not lost in Cyclone Tomas.

The hand over date was May 24, 2005.  Until then ALSO Island was operating the boat.  We kept it busy.  With all of the bad weather we have had many of the roads were still not open and so we were largely the only people carrying fish to market and supplies and ice back to Udu and Cikobia.  The boat proved to be a real work horse!!  By ALSO Island running the boat I saw a number of additions were needed to make it safe and more user friendly.

One of the things I suggested was that we put navigation and safety gear on board.  After the Commissioner Northern saw the boat he agreed to fund a package of navigation instruments and safety gear.  Now the boat had a Furuno combination depth sounder, GPS, Chart Plotter, and a Compass, Life jackets, Fire Extinguisher, Proper Anchoring System and a set of Proper Dock Lines.  Quite an accomplishment for Fiji!
So . . . the project was almost over and we were ready for the next one! 


Boat Building Gallery Photos here

To contact us about building or repairing boats, please email us at alsoisland@gmail



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