Vietnam Wooden Boats

Dedicated to preserving the maritime history of Vietnam with an emphasis on the art, craft, lore, and history of traditional Vietnamese wooden boat building. 

In Memorium

John Doney, founder and president of the Vietnam Wooden Boat Foundation, was killed when his car (in which he was alone) ran off the road and struck a tree on the evening of December 28, 2008.

John founded the Vietnam Wooden Boat Foundation as a non–profit charity with the goals of

  • preservation of the history and the building techniques of the wooden boats and their builders
  • establishment of a museum in Viet Nam to preserve and display the boats and tools themselves as well as the archives
  • establishment of a cottage industry of building and selling scale models of the traditional boats to provide an income source for local people and help to preserve their history
John Doney Photo

With John’s passing, we have lost a friend with enormous enthusiasm and the capability of bringing difficult projects to success. The nonprofit Vietnam Wooden Boat Foundation has been dissolved and his dream of a traditional boat museum in country and a widespread cottage industry building model boats may never come to fruition.

We will continue to collect photos, books and video to document the history and the modern day wooden boat culture in Viet Nam, but we’ll have to do it without him.

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John and I met through our similar interests in Vietnamese and Indochinese boats and boat building. In 2005 I was deeply involved in the research and field work for a book on the subject and when I found this website I contacted John with the expectation that we would join forces. In fact, the Foundation (you might as well say “John”) was publishing a translation facsimile edition of Voiliers d’Indochine or Sailboats of Indochina. The translation needed editing and my first effort for the group was to undertake that work. The edited edition is now available at Since John’s death and dissolution of the non-profit, I have taken over maintenance of the old website to keep the information John had collected available on line. My own research, writing and photography is available separately at, which is focused more towards recording the present state of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian wooden boats: how they are built and how they work today.

Ken Preston
Seattle, 2010


Email: Vietnam Wooden Boats