Vietnam Wooden Boats

Robert Whitehurst's Photos from 1970—1972

Rob Whitehurst spent two years in Vietnam during the American war from March 1970 to March 1972. For a year, he ran cargo from Saigon into the Mekong Delta on an Army LCU. And for another year, he worked a small tug in the port of Saigon. He says, "I was a pretty young Army Warrant in my early 20's and had spent summers in Maine as a youngster sailing on old coasting schooners and earlier had a series of boats with one of my brothers and father which we sailed all the time in Norfolk Virginia waters... so I was interested in wooden boats to the extent that I poked around in a few boat yards and anchorages in the Delta."

We have posted just a few of Rob's photos on this page. To view them all, go to Rob's Facebook album.

All photos and captions in this section courtesy of Robert Whitehurst©.

(Click on the pictures below to view a larger version)

 

Three Small Boats the Rice Market CanalNear the Kinh Cho Gao, between the Mekong and Saigon, the Rice Market Canal serves the waterborne transport of produce from the Mekong delta to the Vai Co River and on to Saigon. Boats on the Rice Market CanalFishing near the Kinh Cho Gao, the Rice Market Canal Net fishing in the Vai Co River near the Kinh Cho Gao
Net fishing in the Vai Co River near the Kinh Cho Gao, the Rice Market Cannal
small river sampan, Vai Co River, Vietnam
Sculling and Rowing a small river sampan on the Vai Co River
Two small boats on Kinh Cho Gao canal, Vietnam
Always life in the fields, the villages, the river. Northern end of the Kinh Cho Gao, Rice Market Canal.
Market and water ferry at Binh Phuc-Nhut Village on Kinh Cho Gao canal, Vietnam.
Market at Binh Phuc-Nhut Village on Kinh Cho Gao canal.
Small river junk leaving the Kinh Cho Gao canal, Vietnam
Small river junk leaving the Kinh Cho Gao.
Tan Nong on Cu Lao Rong, Vietnam
Tan Nong on Cu Lao Rong, "Rong" Island off of My Tho. The entire shoreof this island facing My Tho was lined with lumber mills, shipyards, and landings...along with dwellings on pilings.
Shipyard on Cu Lao Rong, off of My Tho, Vietnam Shipyard on Cu Lao Rong, "Rong" Island off of My Tho, Tien Giang branch of the Mekong River
Fishing boats moored at My Tho, Vietnam Fishing boats moored at My Tho. Tan Nong on Cu Lao Rong off of My Tho, Vietnam
Tan Nong on Cu Lao Rong, "Rong" Island off of My Tho.
River packet boat, My Tho, Vietnam
River packet boat heading downstream off of My Tho.
River packet boat running downstream off of My Tho, Vietnam
River packet boat running downstream off of My Tho.
River packet boat downbound, My Tho, Vietnam
Another packet boat down-bound at My Tho, with an extra load of bananas as cargo. As you can see mid-stream off of My Tho was a visual treat to me.
Two cargo junks, one "push boat" coming by My Tho, the up-stream end of Cu Lao Rong, Vietnam Two cargo junks, one "push boat" coming by My Tho, the up-stream end of Cu Lao Rong, "Rong" Island beyond them.
Another type of typical cargo boat, with a covered hold, Vietnam
Another type of typical cargo boat, with a covered hold. Coming downriver at My Tho.
Cargo boat with pushboat, Vietnam
No engine in the cargo boats, They were propelled by the auxiliary pushboats.
Village market square on the Hau Giang, southern arm of the Mekong, Vietnam
Village market square on the Hau Giang, southern arm of the Mekong.
Packet boat, Vietnam Packet boat pushed onto the bank to load and unload passengers and cargo. A girl named Phuong at 14, on the river at Vinh Long, Vietnam
A girl named Phuong at 14—never smiled more than this, but cheerful and intelligent—always accompanying her mother on the river at Vinh Long.
Boy with long tiller. Near Cho Moi, one of my favorite photos, notice the boy on the inboard end of probably the longest tiller I ever saw; that is mechanical advantage.
A shipyard on Cu Lao Tay, northern arm of the Mekong, Vietnam
A shipyard on Cu Lao Tay, an island on the Tien Giang, northern arm of the Mekong.
Small motor boat selling tea
Waterborne tea-shop, with smiles.
Rice Barges, An Giang Province, Vietnam.
Rice Barges underway in the Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province.
Net fishing on the Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province
Net fishing on the Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province.
A packet boat  on the bank for repairs. Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province
A rather unique packet boat with elements of Art Deco, up on the bank for repairs. Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province.
Paddling a "ghe" while squatting.
Even a smile while paddling the "ghe". If I even could squat down to sit like that I wouldn't be able to stand up from the position at all, plus I'd probably lose my balance and fall overboard.
Man paddling canoe-type small boat Canal-side in the Rach Ong Chuong. A woman rinsing dishes with boat in foreground, An Giang Province, Vietnam
Another rinse after dinner, Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province.
Boats and houses on stilts on the Rach Ong Chuong in An Giang Province.On the Rach Ong Chuong, An Giang Province, Vietnam.
Boats rafted together. Raft of boats on the river above the town of Long Xuyen, mostly homes, what we might term "house-boats". These all came down river from Cambodia in late 1970. Freighter with smaller push-boat
The smaller of these boats has the engine in it, diesel probably. They propelled the larger and much older river sampans. Historically the boats were poled, rowed and sometimes sails were spread in a favoring breeze.
A-Frame Crane on barge.Along the river road above Can Tho towards Binh Thuy.
Barges and push-boats on the Saigon River.
Barges waiting for a load of sand at a dredge above the New Port Bridge on the Saigon River.
Freighter with push-boat Underway above the Newport Bridge in Saigon. Small Wooden covered barges with ocean-going freighter in the background.
River-sampans—rice barges actually—moored alongside a ship in the port of Saigon.
River junks rafted with small freighter, Port of Saigon, Vietnam.
River junk whose cargo of rice is being unloaded directly to a ship at the port of Saigon.
Small sampans and large rice barges, Port of Saigon Small sampan traffic alongside the large rice barges in the Port of Saigon. Small, local freight-carrier, with ocean-going freighter in the background. One of the few color photos I have from that time: a river junk alongside a ship in the Port of Saigon. Notice the water-line which indicates the loaded draft, right up over the gunwales. The thing floats because the hatch combing adds extra freeboard...that and a constant stream of water being pumped overboard from the bilges.

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