Retirement of our Amazon riverboat
Dear Friends of the Amazon and of Project Amazonas,
It is with a bit of sadness that we officially retired our wooden boat, the Tucunare, two weeks ago. The "Tuc" was 10 years old, and as you can imagine, wood doesn't last a terribly long time in the Amazon. The nature of the hull construction of the boat also made it very difficult to do hull work quickly and efficiently (though we have changed substantial parts of the hull twice before). Many of you have traveled on, or seen the Tucunare in the past - it was a veteran of many medical service trips, hosted many educational groups and researchers, and also was home to many of you who first came to the Amazon on an ecotour trip and who have remained in contact since. Here's a picture of the Tucunare in its better days:
The Tucunare has given us thousands of miles of river service of it's life span, even traveling through Brazil and Colombia to the Putumayo River on the border of Colombia and Peru and the Yavari River between Brazil and Peru. For the people in the areas that we serve, she had become a well-known and welcomed sight. The decision to retire the Tucunare was made for several reasons, but most importantly, many of the hull supports had degraded to the point where it would have been necessary to reconstruct the entire hull (not just replace a few boards and supports here and there). To reconstruct the hull in a manner more adequate to our needs (and easier to maintain) would have taken 4-6 months (it takes fresh cut building timbers at least two months to cure and dry), and would have cost on the order of $26-$28,000 US. Chump change, perhaps, when you consider that you'll pay that and more for a 21' Boston Whaler that holds 6 people for daytime excursions, but we almost literally ring every drop of value out of every dollar we spend in the Amazon, so we can and do make chump change go a long way!
As many or most of you know, we have been working on raising funds to build a steel-hull medical service boat for the Amazon. With the current state of the economy, that project has been advancing slowly (but advancing none-the-less), and we do have substantial financial commitments from our partners when we have raised enough funds to build the boat in one fell swoop. What we need in order to continue our service activities in the Amazon is an interim boat that will serve for medical trips, educational trips and for ecotour trips which would entirely finance its maintenance and upkeep, as well as bring in additional funds for the steel-hull vessel. Once we have a steel-hull boat built, the interim boat would be put up for sale to recover any investment in it, and those funds would also be dedicated to outfitting the medical service boat.
After extensive search in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, we have found a suitable candidate boat in Iquitos for this purpose at a sale price of $20,000. The best boat mechanic in Iquitos (someone we have used for over 15 years) visited the boat with us and declared the hull to be in excellent condition and in a configuration that makes maintenance easy. The vessel is only 2 years old, and the hull planks are a solid 1.5" to 2" thick with a barge base construction which means that even through the vessel is slightly shorter than the Tucunare, the amount of floor space would be about double that of our now-retired vessel, and the draft of the boat would be even less, allowing us to enter shallower water. If we acquire the vessel we would take the engine from the Tucunare (a Perkins marine engine still in good condition) and use it to power the new vessel. Engine work and refitting the interior of the new vessel would add $3000-$4000 additional to the entire cost, but that work could be completed within a month, and even with only the engine installed, we could still use the vessel for medical service and other trips. The price is fair, the quality excellent, and the paperwork of the vessel is all in order and up to date, so with a legalized bill of sale and the transfer of a motor, we would have a functioning riverboat again.
So what is the catch? The urgency is time. I just returned from Peru on an overnight flight, arriving in Miami at 7 AM today. The owner of the vessel is anxious to sell it as well as some other properties he has in Iquitos as his wife is from Lima and she hates the rustic nature of Iquitos and also the climate (how someone could prefer the Lima climate is beyond me, but to each their own!). The owner was gracious enough to pull "for sale" ads in the local papers to give us time to get together the funds, but that time runs out as of this coming Friday AM, and if we don't have the money and a deal, I have personally committed to paying the cost of restarting the adds in thanks for the owners consideration of what we are trying to do. Obviously I'd rather put that money into a new boat.
Several of our board members, myself included, are ready to commit personal funds to this project, but we can't do it alone. We need your direct financial support and/or pledge for funds for the project. If we don't come up with the quantity necessary for the purchase of the interim boat by Friday AM, any such donated funds will be rolled over into the account dedicated to the steel-hull boat project, or, if you so specify, we will return those funds to you. Contributions can be made directly through Paypal via the Project Amazonas website (www.projectamazonas.org), or you can send check or arrange bank-bank transfer of funds. Checks can be sent to:
Richard Jagusztyn, CPA
Treasurer, Project Amazonas, Inc.
701 E. Commercial Blvd, #200
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334
For bank transfers, send email to Richard Jagusztyn (email@example.com) and he will send the necessary bank routing information.
Over the 10-year life span of the Tucunare, many hundreds of people have traveled on it to experience the Amazon, to serve the people who live there, or to learn about and conserve the natural wonders of the Amazon. I know that we are all inundated with requests for support for worthy causes, but most of you have experienced the Amazon first hand, or wish to do so at some time in the future, so you are personally involved there in some way. I won't be sending out any repeat requests for the interim boat project because we respect and value your friendship and support, and don't wish to abuse it. If at any time you wish to be removed from our mailing list, just let me know (no reasons needed) and it will be done. If you are able to support us in this project, please let me know (confidentiality ensured) what sum you are able to send or pledge, and for pledges, let me know when the funds might be sent so that we can plan accordingly. As Project Amazonas is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization in the USA, all donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by the US tax codes, and we will promptly provide you with a receipt for tax reporting purposes.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at any time in the coming days via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by cell phone (786-232-2674), though I prefer email.
Thank you for your past support and encouragement for all that we've been able to accomplish in the Amazon, and I hope that you'll continue to partner with us as we move forward. You are always welcome to join us on our service trips in the Amazon.
With Sincere Appreciation,
President / Scientific Director
Project Amazonas, Inc.
701 E. Commercial Blvd, #200
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334
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