Boaz history

BOAZ History – by Keith Wetmore

In January 2014 I was shown the hull of a fairly large boat located on a flat field in a smallholding in Firlands, near the N2, Gordon’s Bay. It had obviously been there for quite some time judging by the weeds growing under it, but was complete to the extent of the hull and deck structure. On further enquiry, I was told that it had been built by a Somerset West lawyer over a period of many years, as the sister ship to another of similar design which had been completed on the same site and launched about ten years previously.

This one had not progressed as fast due to the illness and death of the owner and builder. He had done a good job of the build, all of steel, with beautifully smooth joints and sound welds. At the time of inspection the twin new engines were installed, the bulkheads, the fresh water system and the superstructure.

To turn this hull into a viable sailing vessel was going to take a lot of work, and expense, but by great good fortune the site was about one kilometre from my business, Somerset Timbers, where the necessary equipment and expertise in the form of welders, joinery experts, and materials were available. The access between the two sites was down a very rough track which required 4×4 vehicles in the winter, as the field in which the boat sat was a muddy mess which even bogged down the front-end-loader which was used extensively during construction.

Why the name BOAZ?
Biblical history tells us of Boaz a person who was a Kingsman redeemer that redeemed back land and so much more, hence Yacht Boaz is intended to “redeem back the Ocean” in the sense of what is being lost and destroyed due to marine pollution and especially plastic pollution which is dramatically impacting sea mammals, birds and the ecosystem alike on scales far greater than most people are aware of.

On that note the OA in BOAZ is an acronym for “Ocean awareness”.

BOAZ Design
Boaz is an all steel vessel, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. The designer was Boden, of Australia, who intended it for a comfortable Pacific Ocean cruiser. A limited number of this design has been ,on record there six in total. It is a dated design by modern standards, but its old appearance is actually what attracts the eye. Boaz has good headroom in all interior spaces, another plus point for me, a walk-in engine room, a large saloon, an enclosed pilot house, good engines and high freeboard. All of this makes for a heavy boat, with high windage and low daily mileages.

The rig chosen was initially schooner, and the mast bases were reinforced to take the imposed loads from the sails. In sea trials this proved too heavy and would have been usable in light winds only. Boaz is a motor schooner, and in light wind conditions the engines will be used, also for upwind sailing as she is essentially a downwind boat. As sea trials showed, in any wind speed less than about 10 knots the engines are used, so the logical thing to do was reduce the rig to a ketch with a lighter mizzen mast and smaller sail. This finalized rig seems well suited to the hull and in the right conditions she gets along easily at 7 knots or so. Upwind, with jib and mizzen she will point well with engines just above idle speed.

At the time of purchase there was no way to ascertain how much ballast was in the keel. During the first sea trials in good conditions and all sails set (schooner rig) she sailed well but the heeling angle was obviously too great, so extra ballast was added to the keel. This took the form of a 35 mm steel plate welded along the keel, which was flat. Subsequently another 75mm was added in the same place giving an incredibly strong keel base of about 100mm thickness for some 8 metre length. A stability test was undertaken by a Marine Architect, and the vessel now has an official Stability Book.

Boaz will eventually be registered as a commercial vessel with SAMSA. She will also be certified for ‘going foreign’.

Motivation for Yacht BOAZ– A turning point in Madagascar
The intention for Boaz was always to use it for some purpose other than just pleasure. At the time of purchase of the hull Madagascar was firmly in mind, mainly because there are tropical forests on the east coast running right down to the ocean, and a beautiful bay, Antongile. A preliminary visit seemed in order.

During December 2014 my wife and I were on a trip up the north-east coast of Madagascar on a local ferry transporting about 120 local citizens to the town of Maroansetra, which is a town at the head of the large bay of Antongile, cut off except by sea.  The rubbish of the passengers, which had accumulated over the 36 hour trip, was substantial but had been dutifully deposited in plastic rubbish bags.   As we approached the final destination a young crew member gathered up all the bags, which action impressed me, until, to my horror, he chucked plastic bags and rubbish into the sea.

That was a seminal moment for me.

Later, when travelling in a rubber boat in the river delta, I saw endless streams of discarded plastic water bottles floating down stream and into the ocean.
It seems that one industry does function efficiently in Madagascar: that of the production and distribution of bottled water. The 2 litre sized plastic bottles favoured by this industry then get used maybe once or twice and then discarded into the rivers, of which there are many in this eastern region of four metres of rainfall per year. As the rivers and seas are the main sewers for human activity, all items at the end of their lifecycle are simply discarded into them. The seas will digest biodegradable waste, but modern plastics have a degrade time from 100 to 600 years in sea water, and even then release toxic chemicals.

Since the discovery of the plastic gyre in the Pacific many expeditions have been made to determine the extent of this pollution in the Pacific and to a lesser extent in other oceans, including the Indian. The results of these studies have been widely published in the scientific and popular press, but have had little exposure in the communities of the Indian Ocean.

BOAZ Initiative
There are many commendable initiatives giving exposure to the dangers of pollution in our oceans, as a Google search will quickly show. The question was: which organisation could offer the best fit for the intentions I had for Boaz, in a synergistic relationship?

All along there were three ambitions for the project:

One, to create awareness through education, mostly of the young, but also of the subsistence fisherfolk along the east coast of Madagascar, particularly the Bay of Antongile, by means of contact and videos.

Two, to conduct scientific research into the state of the Indian Ocean by means of an annual voyage from SA to Madagascar and surrounding islands.

Three, in a visit to Madagascar in 2015 I was fortunate to make good contact with senior members of the Government, and a comment was made ‘why is there so little contact between our two countries? We are neighbours across the water!’ With the grass roots approach of the Boaz initiative, it came to me that schools on both sides of the ocean could be linked via the Boaz voyages, by means of visits from schools to the boat while in harbour. The blog and videos would be the connecting mechanism for ‘building bridges across the ocean’.

Operation and Sponsor
The operation of a vessel such as Boaz will require a sponsor for running costs, for the Annual ocean awareness, education and research Voyage. Boaz first sponsor is Somerset Timbers and the Trust has essentially paid for the build.