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Author Topic: Myanmar paddle vessels  (Read 10879 times)

Offline Roderick Smith

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Myanmar paddle vessels
« on: May 09, 2007, 10:42:27 PM »
Parts of my Sat.5.5 posting, transferred from Chat & OT
I'm at an internet cafe at Bagan, which won't let me access yahoo, but is letting me into Paddleducks despite being only dial up.

I hope to see RV Pandaw, built by Yarrow in 1947. The blurb says built to the same design as the prewar quarterwheelers of Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. This one isn't paddle, and RV indicates that it isn't steam. At its prices, I won't be cruising. I am trying for the new fast Mandalay - Bagan, then the slow Bagan - Pyay. I won't have time for Pyay - Yangon.

It leaves Mandalay on Sundays (2 nights to Bagan), and Thursdays (1 night); the upriver cruises are 2 nights. It may not be running the full program: this is now the wet season, and tourisity Bagan is nearly empty. Yangon was continuous rain, roads were flooded and footpaths were knee deep.

When I was in Rangoon in Sept.87, I photographed a cross-river steam ferry (not paddle).  I cruised from Mandalay to Pagan on a boat which looked like a paddlevessel, but wasn't: it had water-jet drive.  That tourist service now has a new fleet of three purpose-built boats (three deck).  See www.shwekeinnery.com.

The Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) is navigable for large boats Yangon - Mandalay 960 km, Mandalay - Bhamo 450 km; and for small boats Bhamo - Myitkina ~100 km.
Chindwin River is navigable to Singkaling (Hkamti) for 840 km, but westerners are not allowed north of Mawlaik (410 km) without special approval, and that is the limit for cruise operation.
There are also overnight vessels from Yangon (Yangon River) via a canal to Ayeyarwaddy River and then to Pathein.
There are lots of other Irrawaddy delta waterways, and other rivers, navigable for medium- and small-size local ferries.

On Wed.9.5.07, I walked past Mandalay's main commercial wharf (Gauwein), the minor one, the cargo zone and two boatyards: seeing and photographing about 15 large three-deck ferries, about 10 medium two-deck ones, about 40 single-deck traditional ferries and a lot of cargo boats (conveying mainly timber).

I was given a guided inspection of the Bagan trio, not running during the wet season (the operating season is from the start of October to the end of April).
I was then given a guided inspection of the beautiful MV Pandaw.  It was built in 1947 by Yarrow (Clyde River, Glasgow, Scotland, UK) as a diesel quarterwheeler, but the propulsion was modified later, then the diesel was replaced and repositioned.  Today it doesn't have a rudder: the twin propellers can be positioned omnidirectionally, which the operator assured me makes it very manoevrable, and is ideal when hitting sandbars (which the vessel does often).  All of the tech specs are at www.pandaw1947.com.
The boat draws 80 cm; the river can often be down to 90 cm over bars.  There is no depth sounder: just a crew member with a bamboo pole.
There were six of these P-class vessels: IIRC all survive, and I saw them all today.  All have got the modified propulsion; none is a quarterwheeler today.
It seems that all are serviceable; one was up on the slip, and I was able to get a good view (and photo) of the hull design.
On Sat.12.5 I leave on the 5.00 slow ferry to Pyay, a 3 night voyage in a twin deck vessel which does have covered decks, but doesn't have seats.  I expect that it will packed with people with market produce.  I shouldn't starve: there are always vendors at hand in Myanmar, probably aboard and at every stop.

Fri.11.5 update: I paid an extra USD10 (on top of USD24) to give me a sleeping berth: USD34 for 4 days and 3 nights on one of the world's great waterways.

Wed.16.5 update: The first class cabin was above the wheelhouse, about 7 m by 5 m, with a double bunk (wooden) and two single beds (wooden), plus a table and seven wooden chairs.  We had seven passengers on most nights.  I was allocated a wooden bed.  A boyfriend/girlfriend occupied the other single.  Two ladies shared a bunk.  One had a bunk to herself; the other lined up four chairs.  The cabin had its own private latrine toilet.  Meals were prepared at a cafeteria on the rear of the upper deck.
I saw about eight of the former quarterwheelers at Mandalay, hinting that the prewar ones had survived with the postwar ones, with similar modifications.  I also saw MV Pandaw 2 at Bagan.
The cruise did take 4 nights and 5 days.  We were stuck on a sandbar for 1.5 h, and were hauled off by another company vessel, fortuitously there at the right time.

Fri.18.5 update: I spent the afternoon at the ferry docks for Yangon (Yangon River, connected via a canal to the Ayeyarwaddy).
There is no hint of anything being steam, or anything being paddle.  I saw yet another P (being scrapped or being rebuilt?), hinting that many prewar ones did survive.

The link from the pandaw1947 site to Irrawaddy Flotilla Company doesn't work, but googling does, and there is a fairly comprehensive website, and some photos of paddlesteamers.  The fleet peaked at 605 boats, but the fleet list gives no details, just a couple of examples.  It may have been written by a Paddleducker, as the notes give various links to PS Waverley (built by the same builder who would, 30 years later, build Waverley etc).

References:
* www.pandaw1947.com: Pandaw and Paukan, maps and river distances.
* www.pandaw.com: Pandaw II and Pandaw IV plus the two Vietnam & Cambodia Pandaws.
* www.irrawaddyflotilla.com: the original fleet of over 600, with history
* www.orient-express.com/web/rtm/rtm_a2a_home.jsp: MV Road to Mandalay, a rebuilt four-deck Rhine cruising boat.
* www.pskc.freeserve.co.uk/burmese.htm: photos and history, a subpart of www.pskc.freeserve.co.uk/month2.htm, which is itself a subpart of the PS Kingswear Castle website.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 08:13:57 AM by Roderick Smith »

Offline Roderick Smith

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MV Pandaw
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2007, 09:17:49 AM »
I have edited the original message with more material and links.  There are lots of historical photos of paddlesteamers in the various sites, including a nice rear view of a P.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline derekwarner_decoy

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Myanmar paddle vessels
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2007, 04:13:35 PM »
Hi PD's & from the third sanp P1000064, this look like quite a balancing act as I cannot see that the slipway FWD cradle has been used :idea:

And from the snap prior P1000055, I don't know how any diver could see what was what with the clarity of the water

Perhaps by morse  :hammer code  :?:
Derek Warner

Honorary Secretary [Retired]
Illawarra Live Steamers Co-op
Australia
www.ils.org.au

Offline Roderick Smith

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P-class ferry on the slip
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2007, 07:10:32 PM »
The engine is in the back, so the balancing may not have been very tricky.
I suspect that the two cradles were at that position all along; the boat was powered onto them sideways when the river was at full height, and will be floated off after the low-water season.  I hadn't noticed the second boat behind the visible one, or I would have walked up and had a closer look.  I suspect that it is 8042, the one which I rode in 1987, and didn't see this time.

Lower down the slip there was a barge resting on the rails, aligned up/down the slope instead of across.  The entry to the ramp had been sealed off with a dirt coffer dam, which is what gave me the hint that the boats were floated in rather than ramped up.

When I was swimming alongside MV Tauntaw, I kept between the boat and the bank: the problem with the water is not so much turbidity as ferocious current (far swifter than Murray River).

My main report and photos are going to the Yahoo group FerriesOutsideEurope, as virtually all vessels were never paddle ones.

Meanwhile, I now have to chase up a copy of the recently-published book on Irrawaddy Flotilla Company.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline Roderick Smith

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Quarterwheeler photos
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2007, 09:51:05 AM »
Both of these came from the sites which I quoted in an earlier post in this thread.
ABC tv in Australia screened the 50 minute documentary 'Burma's forgotten paddlesteamers' last Sunday.  I am now trying to chase a copy, as I was not yet back in Australia when it screened.  It was based on the experience of rebuilding Pandaw for luxury cruising, and was narrated by the scot who instigated the project.
PS Myat Ya Da Nar, at Bagan, has side wheels, and a triple-expansion engine (I have been told from a nonmarine source that it is dual diesel & steam).  It is based there for short tourist cruises, and may have been Empress Mani Sandar at one stage.  My photo of it had all the essential parts obscured by another ferry rafted alongside, but the port sponson to the paddlebox is just visible ahead of the bow of the other.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline Roderick Smith

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Myanmar paddlesteamers
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2007, 09:47:27 AM »
Research has been continuing offlist since my most-recent post.

I have now seen the tv documentary 'Burma's forgotten fleet', narrated by Paul Strachan (who is also the author of a book, and the instigator of the Pandaw project).
I am chasing for a copy of:
* 'Pandaw - The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and the rivers of Myanmar',
by Paul Strachan,  Kiscadale Publications,  April 2003 (ISBN 1 870838 424)
* Irrawaddy Flotilla Company Limited, 1865-1950 (Maritime monographs and reports), by H J Chubb, currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this title will be in stock again.

Two researchers have seen photos of PS 'Myat an da Nar' (ie side wheel) on a now-defunct website; I have asked if they could post them to this thread.

Alistair has sent much detail:
PS Myat Yadanar, length:  62.36 m; 427 tons gross
Triple expansion diagonal, 98.5 nett hp engine; side wheels (the leading sponson is just visible ahead of the bow of the obscuring boat in my photo)
Built: Yarrow, Scotstoun, 1947, as PS 'Minthamee'; one of eight (four Yarrow, four Denny); in service 1949.
Unknown date: Renamed Myat Yadana
1970s: Was the only one of its class to retain steam propulsion.
?: Owned by General Ne Win and used as his private yacht and as a VIP steamer.
?: Sold to Phwaw Saw Typical Village Travels and Tours (proprietor U Khin Maung, a retired waterways officer)
2002: Restored at Simalike Dockyard, Yangon.
2004: Re-entered service on day end evening trips from Bagan.

See www.myanmar.gov.mm/myanmartimes/no85/Timeouts/1.htm, which seems to be c2001.

I had first been alerted to this by a researcher who focusses on railway and stationary steam (eg saw mills and rice mills), who had told me that the vessel was formerly 'Empress Mani Sandar', and is dual powered.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 08:17:37 AM by Roderick Smith »

Offline Roderick Smith

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Myanmar river map
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2007, 08:31:42 PM »
This one comes from the glossy booklet issued by Ayravata Cruises to promote its Pandaw program.  I had thought that it was on one of the Pandaw websites, but on last check I found only a simpler map.  It will help you understand the places mentioned in this thread, and the tv documentary 'Burma's forgotten fleet'.

Hopefully, it will give someone the confidence to go there in the tourist season and obtain better pictures of PS Myat Ya Da Nar.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline Roderick Smith

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PS Myat Ya Da Nar
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2007, 01:58:27 PM »
Breakthrough.
Bill W had commented originally that the boat in my photo did not resemble in any way the photo which he had.  Perhaps he was misled by the wooden ferry (the same owner) obscuring the view of the paddleboxes.

I enclose today one which Bill sent to me offlist, scanned from 'Paddle Wheels' a couple of years ago, ie when the newly-restored boat was delivered to Bagan.

I found a second angle of my own, which shows more of the port paddlebox.  Clearly, the two are the same vessel.

Let the Myanmar odysseys begin.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline derekwarner_decoy

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Myanmar paddle vessels
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2007, 03:34:14 PM »
Hi PD's ...... quote....the Myanmar.....clearly, the two are the same vessel.

Roderick... I must agree that both vessels appear to be from the same design plan or and build, however there are discrete differences between vessels

Window size & spacing :hammer ...supporting structure for the bridge  :shhh........not sure  :darn
Derek Warner

Honorary Secretary [Retired]
Illawarra Live Steamers Co-op
Australia
www.ils.org.au

Offline Roderick Smith

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PS Myat Ya Da Nar
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2007, 04:55:18 PM »
Derek has observed some detail differences.
I did have one myself, which I didn't mention: the older photo shows internal partitioning on the upper deck.  The first of my two current ones shows no internal partitioning.
Offlist, I have data from Alistair D about various post WWII builds: there were sidewheel, quarter wheel and screw vessels of very similar appearance, and all were similar to many prewar vessels.
However, the body of evidence is that only one vessel survived as a paddlesteamer, and this is it.  Perhaps the steamer sank or was destroyed by fire, and the name was transferred to this lookalike (and the paddleboxes are fake?)?  My photos are just too inconclusive.  At least the boat photographed is carrying the correct name.

For full resolution, some other mildly/wildly adventurous Paddleducker has to make the journey which I did, but in the October-April tourist season, when the vessel is operating.  IIRC I did the 2 weeks for AUD2200 (airfare plus ground expenses plus photos), but I rarely work out an exact budget.

After I post my next country, an astute tour organiser for a marine club could well settle on a visit to this region as the next club expedition.  It is warmer and cheaper than Siberia.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline Roderick Smith

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'Pandaw' book
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2007, 08:48:16 PM »
Via Amazon, I ordered a copy of Strachan 'Pandaw; the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and the rivers of Myanmar', published by Kiscadale in 2003.  Isbn 1 870838 424.
It arrived today.
The book has 64 pages, and a hard cover; most photographs are colour.
It is not an extensive history, and doesn't have much material not already on the website.  Most of the boats aren't paddle.  However, it does have some satisfying material.  One new photo fur me: a P-class vessel on the Clyde, with the lower deck boarded ready for the self-powered voyage to Buma.  A photo of a P-class quarterwheeler, already posted to this thread, appears in the book with the date 1979.

I raised the question whether Tauntaw is regarded as a T-class ferry.  The book has a photo of one of these, and does use the term.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 08:15:37 AM by Roderick Smith »

Offline Roderick Smith

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'Burma's forgotten fleet'
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2007, 06:54:59 AM »
I now have a copy of the comprehensive NMM 'Irrawaddy Flotilla Company' book, obtained via e-Bay.

On Australian tv, the film 'Burma's forgotten fleet' is being screened on channel 2 at 18.05 (Victorian time) on Mon.18.12.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

Offline Barry

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Myanmar paddle vessels
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2007, 11:30:47 AM »
Ad from the book Ship and Boat builder annual review 1956.

Offline Hankwilliams

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Re: Myanmar paddle vessels
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2008, 01:26:04 AM »
Hello,

It is possible to buy copies of the original plans of the last built sidewheelers from Denny "Maha, Minghi, Mindan and Minnan", from 1948, which must be similar of PS "Myat Yadana".
The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has bought the whole plan archive of Denny shipyard when it was closed in 1964.

Mr. Graham Thompson is the chief curator of  plansandphotos@nmm.ac.uk.
The number of mentioned shipplan is D1406-9. The plans are in 1:48 scale.

I also got the copy of the original plan of the big 2 funneled PS "China" of 1888, this number is D 409. Even furher plans of Side-and sternwheelers from Irrawaddy River are catalogised and it's possible to get a copy.

Best regards

Thomas

Offline Roderick Smith

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PS Myat Ya Da Nar
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2008, 11:42:45 AM »
I was googling for information for a steam-enthusiast friend heading to Myanmar, and came across some disappointing news.

The author (Chris Cairns) was in Myanmar in Dec.07 with the steam-railway group Farrail (which has a website which includes tour reports).  He posted this to a Myanmar travel site:

29.3.08 Minthamee / RV Myat Yadana / RV Empress Manisandar
http://christophercairns.fotopic.net/c1462526.html
The last steam-powered paddlesteamer which is still surviving in troubled Myanmar. I've put up a couple of scans from the tourist brochure from 2002, plus some photos from Dec.07 to show how the beautiful restoration done in 2002 by the previous owner has been largely removed by the current owner, and the vessel awaits better times in Myanmar to have two diesel engines fitted at the rear. As time permits I'll try to get some of the steamers' interior slides scanned, and posted on the above website.

The photos are much better than any mentioned in earlier posts in this thread.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

 

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