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Exploring Belo Sur Mer and the Traditional Madagascar Sailing Boats

· evasion,discovery,west Madagascar

Belo sur mer is a fishing village located in the south west part of Madagascar, about 100 km off-road from Morondava. Other than its salt evaporation ponds and beautiful untouched beach, this village has been well known for constructions of famous traditional madagascar boats, �dhow� also called �boutre� in french.

Dhow constructions have been widely spread in Belo Sur Mer. While walking along the white sands of its beautiful shores, you will see tons of huge wooden structures that looks like a half curved fish bone chest bone being created as a dhow.
The craft had been passed on by the Breton sailors. The history started since nineteenth century when a carpenter from the Breton family was sent by Napoleon III to live in Belo Sur Mer in favour of Radama II (a king of Madagascar in 1861-1863) who wanted the locals learn how to build boats. The French decided to never go back to their own country and have chose to teach the locals build ships utilizing the Breton technics.
To this day, dhows are built using the original designs. The construction is done by hand and takes about four to six years to complete. They are used for transporting both passengers and goods from seaport to another. They are made from strong and drifting trees as katrafay (cedrelopsis grevei: an endemic tree in Madagascar) and voavy causing the whole ship to weigh 14 tonnes.
Two weeks ago, upon discovering this ship-building centre of the South-west our clients were amazed by the breathtaking Vezo handmade sailing-boats. Watching those huge cargo-vessels lie along the palm-fringed lagoon made the experience unforgettable as they said.

Picture by Iholy Rakotoniaina

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