40-foot Lagoon Bus
Tim’s boatshop in the Marshall Islands built three of these in 1986-1990 for customers wishing to carry passengers and light cargo inside the lagoons, or between islands that were fairly close together, such as Tarawa and Abaiang Islands in Kiribati (AKA The Gilbert Islands), hence the nickname “Lagoon Bus”.
They were all 40 feet long, of simple marine plywood construction with a thin skin of fiberglass and epoxy resin on the outside to waterproof them, and different arrangements inside. One had a 400-pound capacity insulated and refrigerated box in the center of the cabin for hauling fresh fish, chicken, and spoilable cargo; another even had a radar!
(Below) One of the 40-foot catamaran “lagoon buses”, with as many people INSIDE as you see OUTSIDE the cabin! Wood structure, plus epoxy/fiberglass waterproof covering, plus a good paint job, equals a boat that will last 40 to 50 years with care, just like a good fiberglass boat will.
(Below) One of the 40-foot “Lagoon Buses” under construction in Tim’s Marshall Islands boat shop under the big tree.
They were designed and built to be affordable and durable sailing work boats; their spars were Schedule 40 aluminum pipe such as is used for irrigation systems in the USA; an 8-inch Schedule 40 spar for the mast, and a 5-inch Schedule 40 spar for the boom. They had a conservative 40-foot long stick with a masthead rig, one forestay, one split backstay, and four lower shrouds. They had a battenless 8-oz weight dacron main and an 8-oz roller-furling masthead genoa.
They also had a solid skeg under each hull, with a 1/2-inch thick, 4-inch wide steel plate installed on its full length. This protected the boats if they found themselves on the reef due to mis-navigation, or had to put the boat up on shore intentionally, onto rocks, to escape a hurricane that was coming.
(Below) One of the 40-foot “Lagoon Buses” finished, and headed out the end of the shop and onto the “launching ramp”. Mast and boom for the cat are on the shop floor in the foreground.
They each had a single diesel engine installed inside the cabin, where it was warm, dry, and the engine was easy to work on. The prop shaft went down through the wing to a BIG U-joint, then into a custom-built kick-up prop shaft housing that allowed the whole thing to hit a coral head, break a breakaway cord, and pivot up out of the water with no damage to the propellor or shaft at all. This was a great arrangement compared to the usual costly and hard-to-work-on catamaran twin engine installation down in the hulls.
(Below) One of the 40-foot “Lagoon Buses” headed down the “launching ramp”. Not the easiest way to get a boat into the water: but we were forced to because we didn’t have a marine railway, didn’t have a crane on the island (not at this time, anyway), so we simply rolled the boats down the “ramp” with 2-inch galvanized pipe rollers under the 1/2-inch thick steel shoe on the skeg.
(Below) One of the 40-foot “Lagoon Buses” headed out into Majuro lagoon for a test sail with its proud new owners (and most of the boatshop crew) on board.
Now, we feel the world is not only ready for, but also in desperate need of this energy-efficient sailing work boat technology we originally developed in Hawaii starting in 1978. Click on the blue text below to find out more about our “Splash” project: