Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Longtail boat

There is something definitely ingenious about a device that might hide in any of your body cavity and yet be able to transmit audio or video images to the other end of the globe. Images hopefully not of your body cavity. But the fact that these divices exist are great. But Local adaptations technology for daily use always fascinate me. Take for example the humble tractor in India. The tractor has probably been used for ploughing, digging roads, searching for water, as an generator, as a joyride and so many other uses that one actually forgets what the original purpose of that thing might have been.

Out here in Thailand I have been duly impressed by the longtail boat. Granted that my record for being impressed is rather poor. I must admit that I might have been over zelously impressed in the case of the Centiped Necklace, but the longtail boats are impressive on any scale.

These humble boats, are the only means of island hopping in this part of the andamans. You might very well catch a glossy ferry from Phuket to Phi phi, but if you need to even get from the jetty to your resort, you need to get in one of these very uninspiring peices of wood. Uninspiring they might be, but supremely confident the boat boys seem to be. Nothing else could explain the total lack of life vests in these things.

As a man of the sea I actually found these rather neat. You see, the problem that we mariners generally face in while going astern. This is because we invariably lose steering as the propeller turns in reverse. This leads to rather cumbersome engine movements as we try not to bang the ship in one of your pretty houses. But in the case of the longtail boat, the endine, propeller and the rudder are one fused unit. this actually allows excellent steering qualities to the boat as she goes astern. There are actually new design of tugs coming out these days that actually feature this quality. Pretty neat.

And the thing with the accelerator is neat too. You would think that the guy would have his hands full with the full rudder mechanism. But actually, if you look at the accompanying pictures (that felt so cool to say), youll see that they actually hold this thread that controls the fel supply to the engine. so with just a tug of his thumb, this dude can churn out som amazing moves out of the boat.

And nothing beats the feeling of bumping along on the sea with a outboard motor going at full rev and the wooden boards beneath you creaking their protest with every wave. I am not very sure how enjoyable the longtail boats are going to be out in nice weather, but these babies are some neat machines to take out when the weather is acting a bit of a bitch.

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