Alefa Madagascar Pirouge

Madagascar tourist outrigger by Alefa

The website for this company if you want to go for a trip, of short or long duration is pirogue-madagascar.com LINK. The company has both dhows and pirouges for charter of small number of people on trips varying beteen 4 and 11 days. The charters start and finish at the town of Nosy be, Northern Madagascar. For more information check the charter company at PIROGUE-MADAGASCAR.COM

To me there is a lot of similarity between this craft and the Sri Lankan vessel the Yathra Dhoni LINK of Indigenous Boats Webpage. Whereas the Yathra Dhoni could change ends so that the bow becomes the stern and vice versa, this vessel does not do so. While the vessel is symmetical fore and aft, and changing ends is possible with a few days work, this feature is not used mainly because the gaff rig takes time to relocate. Also note that in Mozambique there are some craft that do change ends (shunt), as they have a lateen sail on a pivoting mast, thus in order to go on other tack and always keep the outrigger to windward for better sailing performance, these vessels pivot the mast the other way, and move the rig to the new end. They also can quickly remove the rudder from one end and place it on the new stern very quickly. Thus it seems that the cultural convention in this region is for pirogues to be double ended, that is symettical fore and aft, this vessel retains that shape even though it is not required. The upside to having such a fine stern is very little wake and thus low drag at low to moderate speed

Some Notes on this boat

  • The first, second and fifth photographs are of a later date to the others. A larger volume outrigger has been installed in place of the earlier outrigger
  • The rudder is removable to avoid damage when coming ashore
  • The maximum beam at gunnel seems to be about 5.5 feet
  • There is an outboard engine as auxillary power which is at the end of a travelling arm platform of about 3ft length that lowers down to deploy the engine. The front of the platform appears to swivel about the rear crossbeam
  • The sails were made from a donated genoa from the owners of the vessel SV Delos
  • The gaff mast hoops appear to be chain wrapped in plastic hose
  • There is a single crossbeam on the starboard side
  • My estimate for main hull center to outrigger center is 18ft
  • The crossbeams are native round timber (logs) of between 5 and 6 inch diameter, two beams forward, one aft
  • The two forward crossbeams extend to the port side to provide a base for the mast stay and to a lesser extent a platform for crew balance
  • The mast is simply a tree trunk

  • It seems the planks are joined with lag bolts edge on edge, in that the bolts go down in one plank and join the plank lower down. Note in Indonesia a similar method is used but with many many wood dowels
  • It appears hull frames are added after the planking is complete
  • Connection between crossbeams and outrigger is via mortise and tenon joints, which are labour intensive to make but require no imported materials
  • From the video they report sailing in excess of 5 knots in 10knots of wind. Vessel motion is reported to be very smooth
  • My rough estimate of Length Overall (LOA) is 35ft. If you know the real length, or have a better guess, please let me know
  • The hull is reported covered with shark fat, assume as a preservative
  • The sails are coloured using a solution made from boiled mangrove wood

  • I measured the pixels from the photo of build construction, pixels at gunnel was 534 wide, at my rough estimate of waterline I got 362 pixels. Now previously I had determined that max beam at gunnel was 5.5ft. I roughly estimate waterline beam of 3.6ft say in imperial 3 ft7 inches. Now given LOA for this boat is almost the same as length at waterline, I have an estimated waterline length of 35ft.

  • That gives a waterline main hull fineness ratio of 9.7, or we say a fineness ratio of between 9.5 to 1 and 10.0 to 1. Please note that I have subsequently taken measurements from the photo of the boat from astern. I compared the height of the crew in pixels to what I deemed to be waterline beam and reached a figure of 3ft 8 inches. Is hard to be exact, could be a couple inches wider. Note that the 3ft 8' figure and the 3ft 7' are close, is possible waterlne beam could be 3ft 10' on the loading in the photographs, at least we have a pretty good idea based on two separate methods

  • YouTube video of boat sailing here on the SV Delos channel     LINK