Since some years BCA - Demco has started new activities in developing countries, working on projects that have, in a more or less explicit way, an humanitarian and social. We report on these activities in the pages devoted to Senegal and Bolivia, the two countries in which we have operated hitherto. As far as our activity in Senegal is concerned more detailed information can be found on the website www.voile-senegal.com.
Beyond the human aspects these initiatives have so far proved rewarding and interesting also from a professional point of view, as we had the challenge to deal with a reality and with problems which proved to be very different from those that a boat designer has to face in an European context. For this reason we would be pleased to continue these kind of experiences and we would be pleased to consider other opportunities to work in the marine field in developing countries. We think that the know-how of a boat designer and builder can be valuable for these countries and, finding the right forms of collaboration, there are many useful initiatives that can be implemented in this field, either in the sector of recreational boating or in that of professional crafts. Recreational boating is in fact almost non-existent in many developing countries, although there are often ideal conditions for sailing and unknown navigation areas yet to be discovered. Boating diffusion can be an effective way for these countries to develop tourism, deriving from it an economic benefit. As far as professional activities on the sea are concerned in many African countries fishing, still practiced with traditional systems and with primitive boats, remains one of the main resources. Many of these boats (for example the beautiful Senegalese pirogues) have developed over the course of a slow and long evolution an extraordinary efficiency and functionality, but much remains to be done regarding the safety of navigation , the strength and seaworthiness of the crafts. The theoretical and technological knowledge of a boat designer who wish to dedicate himself to these issues, having a thorough and direct knowledge of the local environment, can be invaluable. For our part we have been involved since a long time with these development issues and the experiences we made cooperating in Senegal and Bolivia encourage us to continue on this path.
The letters B.C.A. in our name mean, as our long-standing customers know, boats with soul (Barche Con Anima), but they could also mean Barche Con Africa (boats with Africa) and the acronym is well suited to an initiative started a few years ago and to which we intend to provide continuity in the future. The scope of the initiative is to design and build in African countries, either directly or in collaboration with companies already operating locally, boats mainly for the local market. Boats with Africa, therefore, also to emphasize the fact that we do not intend to develop European boats for export to developing countries (which in any case would have little chance of success, given the financial constraints of the local clientele), but to make boats specially conceived and designed for the local context, which is obviously very different from the European one.
We have launched the first boat building experience in Senegal in May 2009, in collaboration with a subsidiary Senegalese company, called Gianipa, to which we have provided engineering and technical assistance for the construction of three sailing boats to be rented to tourists for excursions and short cruises in a large river delta, so rich in flora and fauna that it has been declared a Natural Park. The region, called the Sine Saloum, is one of the most beautiful areas of Senegal and among the destinations most suitable for a "sustainable" tourism. At the moment there are many motor pirogues carrying out this type of activity. The boats that we conceived for this initiative are sailing multihulls, a 9 m catamaran and two 8 m trimarans. The choice of the multihull is quite innovative compared to traditional Senegalese crafts. In Senegal sailing, once practiced only downwind with rudimentary and small square sails applied on the narrow and unstable pirogues, has now virtually disappeared
For the catamaran, called La Sirène du Saloum, we took inspiration for designing the hulls from the traditional, beautiful and extraordinarily functional local pirogues. The technique used is the “stitch and glue”, and this too is new for Senegal, where the boats are still built with semi-primitive systems, extremely cost effective but quite defective from the point of view of resistance, durability and water keeping of the hull. Of course, the mere adoption of modern systems cannot solve all the problems and our first direct experience of building in Africa has been illuminating in order to understand the potential of the idea but also to focus its limits and problems. On the basis of this first experience and convinced of the validity of the idea we have repeated the initiative in 2010 proposing a different type of boat, a Fisherman of 5.70 m very solid, simple, suitable for engines of limited power (40 HP), to be used also in the delta of the river for fishing and excursions. We have built two boats of this type, which are now in Dakar and in the Sine Saloum delta.
Either the Fisherman 570 and the 9 m catamaran are included in our stock plans catalog and we sell the plans to amateur boat builders.
While the Fisherman is a boat suitable to be used anywhere, the catamaran has an "ethnic" appearance and it would be curious to see one of them sailing in European waters.
Thanks to the experience gained in these construction projects the Senegalese team who worked with us has gained good working capacity and an increasing autonomy, so that our direct assistance on the spot has since the beginning of the activity decreased and has moved more in the field of design.
In recent years the Gianipa boatyard has been involved in various restoration of old motor boats in fiberglass and marine plywood sent from Italy. In 2013, the workload associated with the initiative SENèVOILE, has given more continuity to the activity of Gianipaboatyard. Since the beginning of the year they have realized a 6,5 m wooden boat and restored many dinghies which shall be used by a new sailing school in Dakar.
For more information, please visit: www.voile-senegal.com
In the last months of 2012 we decided to launch, in collaboration with Gianipa, an ambitious social project, called SENèVOILE, which became operational in the early months of 2013 and is now in its starting phase.
The project, which should be implemented in four years, has the primary scope to encourage the development of sailing in the country. Its main content is the creation of a sailing school in Dakar that provides to children and young Senegalese people the opportunity to familiarize themselves with water sports and to learn the basic of sailing. At the moment the water sports in Senegal are practiced almost exclusively by tourists and European residents. Many Senegalese are familiar with navigation, as they use to fish on beautiful and slender pirogues decorated in bright colors, occasionally hoisting also a picturesque sail. We would like to convince them to sail also for the pleasure of doing it and not only as a job.
The project was launched in collaboration with the Fédération Sénégalaise de Voile, recently established. Since one should always have ambitious objectives we posed as the final scope of the initiative the participation of a Senegalese sailing team at the Olympics in Rio in 2016. This will also involve participation to the international sailing events and to the selection races for Olympics Games. Our role is to be the promoters of the Project, and we are committed to provide the means necessary for the operation of the school, including in particular boats, equipment, material and technical education, as well as a general assistance to the organization. The Gianipa boatyard has already built a wooden boat of 6.5 m for the school, and over 20 sailing dinghies (mainly Optimist, Laser and 470) have been sent from Italy. Some of these boats have been donated by Italian persons or groups who wanted to contribute to the initiative. In particular, we have received a precious support (with the donation of some boats) by Lega Navale Italiana – Milan Section.
In April 2013 they also organized a nice event at the Idroscalo (a small artificial lake near Milan) inviting boys of the Senegalese community living in Milan to try the emotions of sailing aboard their boats. To the most promising among them we are giving the opportunity to continue attending training courses at the LNI.
If you need additional information about the project please do not hesitate to contact us and it is needless to say that any form of cooperation is appreciated. There could be many ways to help the project, such as sponsorship, supply of old boats, equipment, accessories or sails. If someone is interested to come as a volunteer instructor he shall be welcome and we are sure that he will do a useful and pleasant experience. The support, even if only as a moral support, of Italian institutions is also appreciated. What we offer in return is a bit of advertising but we think it's worth much more the gratitude of the Senegalese young people who will benefit from their generosity.
More detailed information on the project can be found at www.voile-senegal.com
The Senegalese initiative has enabled us to develop valuable experience on the opportunity to work in the marine sector for developing countries. It is on the basis of this experience that we have been asked to collaborate on a similar project in Bolivia, on Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world, a basin of considerable size (22 times more than our Garda lake) that lies between Bolivia and Peru at 3800 m above the sea level. The request has come to us from a catholic mission that operates on the Bolivian side of the lake and which has started a wooden boat construction activity with local populations.
IThe project has been conceived by the enthusiastic and dynamic missionary father Leonardo Giannelli, who has thought that a large-scale project such as the construction of one or more boats, not only had a great educational value, but also allowed to start a commercial activity, renting the boats to visitors and tourists, giving some resources to the mission. We have been very happy to participate in the initiative, not only for its humanitarian scope, but also for the professional interest in designing a boat which had to sail in an absolutely unique environment: a real sea wrapped in a magic and rarefied atmosphere (not only metaphorically, since the air has a density of more than 30% lower than at sea level). We have therefore designed TITICAT, a modern sailing catamaran with a length of 8.5 m, designed for the transport of tourists and to be built in strip planking.
Between 2011 and 2012, in only 9 months, the project of Leonardo father Giannelli has materialized and the first boat, the TITICAT 1, was built in the yard of the mission of Huata by a valid Bolivian team, with only few occasional site visits by us and by Giuseppe Sfondrini, who has promoted and coordinated the project from Italy.
The experience was very positive and we were pleased to be involved in it even beyond our initial role of boat designers. The reasons are many, starting with the enthusiasm and indomitable will of father Leonardo Giannelli, who has been able to collect and motivate around the project several contributions by qualified professionals (the sails were provided by Guido Cavallazzi , the wizard of Luna Rossa sails for America’s Cup), suppliers, and various friends. For those who had the opportunity to participate directly in the building it has been an unforgettable experience, either human or professional. The magical charm of the place, a huge lake almost deserted, surrounded by snow-capped mountains elevating over 6000 m, has done the rest. The conclusion of the work done was, in March 2012, the nice and colorful launching ceremony, solemnized by the presence of local authorities and enlivened by songs and folk dances. You may see an extensive extract of the picturesque ceremony on youtube.
The boat sailed well and is now fully operational, with a crew consisting of the young people of the parish who are every increasing their sailing capability. The complete project foresees the construction of two equal catamarans. The second one is now under construction. Needless to say that the mission lives (very soberly) thanks to the contributions of supporters who appreciate their spirit and activity. We can guarantee that the money donated is used in the best way. A good way to combine financial support with pleasure is to visit them and to rent the TITICAT. The journey from Europe to lake Titicaca is long and exhausting enough, also because of the altitude, but you are rewarded with beautiful sailing and even in this case, as in Senegal, very unusual and unique. Anyone wishing to know more on the initiative or to give a contribution can contact Beppe Sfondrini (email@example.com). Lega Navale Italiana has followed with sympathy and spirit of cooperation the initiative: the Milan section and the Biella section have both organized at their locations a fund raising evening with the protagonists of the project.
As you can see from the drawings and photographs TITICAT is a catamaran with modern lines and capable of good performances. The sail area may seem a bit too generous for a boat which will bring tourists in a safe and quiet sailing. You have, however, to take into account the fact that due to the lower air density on the lake Titicaca the pressure exerted by the wind on the sails is proportionally reduced. It is our intention to study a version of this catamaran designed for coastal cruising to be included in our catalog.
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