For the last 8 years I have lived in Nong Khai, a peaceful border town located along the Mekong River. The Mekong passes through six countries and is an important water and food source to hundreds of millions of people. It is also home to some of the largest fresh water fish, and biodiversity, in the world.
Each morning, for the past few weeks, I've been sailing a small fishing boat on the Mekong River. While on the river I've noticed A LOT of trash in the water. Over the years, when going to restaurants along the river, our volunteers have noticed customers, waiters, and cooks throwing their trash into the river. I remember also seeing the same thing happening in Vientiane, Laos too. Chances are the same careless behavior is happening along the entire 4,000km course that the river takes.
I've decided that Isara needs to educate the communities who live along the Mekong River about the dangers of polluting their environment. If we can get just a few people to stop throwing trash into the river then the impact will be worth the effort. But, the only way to truly reach the people along the river, is to get out there and visit them.
So that's what we're going to do!
In the next few months we will be building a boat using recycled plastic bottles. It will have a wind generator, solar panels, electric engine, and be made of recycled wood. It will also have parts that will be made of trash found in the Mekong River. Don't worry (Mom), I won't be building it. We're having professional boat builders put it together and make sure it's strong enough for the voyage.
The boat will be built here in Nong Khai but our journey down the Mekong will actually start in the northern most part of Thailand (#1 - below), where the Mekong River first enters Thailand. We will then follow the river down stream, through Laos, until we arrive back to Nong Khai (#2). After a short break, to restock and check the boat, we will begin the second phase of the journey. Our goal is to eventually reach the ocean (#3), passing through Cambodia and Vietnam. But there are a few obstacles (waterfalls) on the second phase which we need to work out first. If it's too risky then we'll stop before leaving Thailand (#2.1).Click for Google Map Version
In this topic you will be able to follow along as we build the boat, get permission for the 1,500 mile (2,400km) voyage, and raise awareness of the campaign.
Post your comments below! ;D
UPDATED: Here's the campaign video.
Here's an artist rendition of what the boat's frame "might" look like. We're still waiting for the boat builder to give us the final specs.
There will be a lot more "things" on the boat (rain guards, etc.) but that image gives you a general idea of what we're going for.
Yesterday morning we did a speed/distance test on the Mekong. We sailed 4 miles in 24 minutes. That is an average of 10 mph. If we can maintain that speed with the electric engine then we should be able to complete Phase 1 of the campaign in about one week.
We'll let you know when construction begins. ;D
Ginafish said:That's the same thing I said, Ginafish. haha! I went back up to Kirk's original post and re-read it to see that he did mention it would be a carbon neutral footprint vessel with solar panel, wind generators, electric engine, and second hand wood, etc. Very cool! I am excited to see what he names her! :D
On the boat specs it looked as though there are solar panels on the top, am I imagining things, or are those just panels to keep things protected?
Until we hear back from the boat builder, we thought it would be fun to start experimenting with different bottle designs.
Of course, building it on the computer is the easy part. The hard part is putting hammer to nail and making the drawing into a reality. So today we started putting hammers and nails together to build a sample pontoon (100 bottles) to see how much weight a bundle of plastic bottles can hold.
For the sample we experimented with different bottle layouts to see which would be the most efficient and practical. Cylindrical was the easiest to make but connecting the rest of the boat to it would have been very difficult.
We also tested a trapezoid shape which turned out ok.
A rectangle will hold more bottles and create more buoyancy, but it has more drag. So we're not sure if the pontoons will end up being a rectangle or trapezoid shape. Hmmm...
Once the sample raft (100 bottles) is built we will post photos of it floating (fingers crossed).