The Flipflopi Dhow - Update from Lamu...

Its about time to show the amazing progress we have been making on building our "little" prototype 'Dogo'. This weekend Ben, Dipesh and I (Leonard) finally had the opportunity to go to Lamu together and spend some time with the team on the boatyard. It was stunning! The smiling faces of the two project managers, climbing over the almost ready boat, and their incredible joy, fueled the whole team with new enthusiasm.

recycled plastic boat

The boat has come together wonderfully. All the ribs have been shaped and are in place now, supporting the outer planking. The intricate details of connections between the part show the great manual skills of the fundis (Swahili for craftsmen). This boat, in our opinion is a piece of art, and that is exactly the difference that we are wanting to make. Plastic products are usually all the same, one piece like the other, without identity. This is a plastic boat, but it is one of a kind. Even if we would make the same again, it would be different, because of the way its made. In the beams we see the different grains of plastic, giving it color and individuality. The difference of colour between the planks (yes, they are recycled plastic too!) and the ribs shows off the plastic heritage compared to a similar boat made of wood.

boat made from recycled plastic

All the rain has also not left our boatyard untouched. The traditional roofing that was mounted above the boat came tumbling down with a specially heavy downpour. Although this requires us to put up a new canvas roof now, it gave me the opportunity to capture the boat in the best light.

recycled plastic dhow Kenya

After a recap of the remaining tasks we were able to tune the timeline and aim for a realistic launching day. One of the biggest tasks remaining is the placing of the mast and the giant boom, which will be longer than the entire boat! Then we will need to waterproof the boat. That is a task that needs to be done meticulously, pushing a special threaded cotton in all the gaps between the planks. When the cotton comes in contact with water, it will swell up and prevent water from seeping in the boat. As an additional safety precaution (and because they are so just so beautiful!), we will use our brand flipflop plates and fix them with glue and screws to the planking.

We'll be back soon with more updates...

Leonard Schurg, Flipflopi Project Engineer

Want to help? Join the journey and help build the world's first recycled plastic dhow by clicking HERE