|From this . . .
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by Brien Holmes
Photographs by Phil Iddison and Brien Holmes
It takes about a year to construct and is floated out into the shallow waters
by hand at high tide. It is constructed almost entirely by hand -- skilled carpenters
shaping, chiseling, drilling, nailing, finishing the huge timbers that come together
as an ocean-going ship.
Yes, there are concessions to the equipment and resources available today. Planks
and ribs are shaped on an old band saw. Electric drills pierce the planks to make way
for the bolts and nails that hold the pieces in place. Hydraulic cranes lift the heavy
planks into place.
But the hours invested in finishing each rib have not changed over the millennia.
The workmen continue to work without detailed plans . . . pieces are shaped and finished
in an organic fashion compared to the modern shipbuilding techniques employed in shipyards
around the world.
A diesel engine will provide the power to carry the vessel and its cargoes, replacing
the sails that once captured the winds of the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and
Arab navigators sailed these huge dhows -- booms -- up and down the east coast of Africa
and to the traders along the west coast of India for thousands of years. They helped the
early European explorers to find their way to Indonesia and China.
Today, booms and dhows -- as evidenced with the hundreds of dhows that load and unload
cargo in the Dubai Creek each year -- continue to sail around the Gulf, moving cargo to
remote coastal communities and providing an alternative to more modern shipping alternatives.
Phil Iddison documented the construction of a boom in 2002. Will Moore followed another in 2006. We also document the construction of a boom from March 2008 to its launch in 2009.