Projects: The Ship of the Corn: reviving an ancient Croatian trade path
At 25 metres long and built of Slavonian oak and pine, the brand new Aurora Colapis – “Ship of the Corn” – is a striking sight. This reconstruction of a 19th century grain boat is set to bring an ancient Croatian trade path back to life and epoxy has a big role to play.
“Up until the 19th century, boats like Aurora Colapis were used to transport people and grain to and from Croatia,” explains Ivan Zec from Metal-Zec, the company that constructed the boat. “The path started at the mouth of the river Danube in Romania and travelled to Serbia, before branching off to the rivers Sava and then Kupa in Croatia.”
“Aurora Colapis is the first of a series of grain boats that hope to boost tourism to the area.”
Croatia has always been a farming nation. Historically, the local rivers Kupa and Sava provided a critical transportation network for people and goods when cities such as Karlovac and Sisak were important river ports. Aurora Colapis is the first of a series of grain boats that hope to boost tourism to the area and bring this trading history back to life. The project is a huge team effort between governments, tourist offices and their partners in Croatia and across the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Up to fifty people will be able to travel on Aurora Colapis at any one time, to enjoy a guided tour of the river and key locations en-route, including traditional wooden houses, farms and churches. “In the longer term, it’s hoped that reviving this route will encourage the development of new family farms that can sell their products directly to visitors,” says Ivan.
Building for the long term with epoxy
She may be a traditional design but Aurora Colapis is very modern in her construction – as epoxy features heavily. The initial plans didn’t feature epoxy at all but after consultation with the local distributor, Yacht Centre Adriatic, and the boat’s architect, Metal-Zec decided to use epoxy for laminating, bonding and coating the hull of the boat. “Our research showed that using epoxy would make maintenance easier and ultimately give the boat a far longer service life,” says Ivan.
Metal-Zec laminated the hull of Aurora Colapis in three 4-6cm layers of oak and pine, using WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® and 206 Slow Hardener®. The hull was bonded to the ribs of the boat using PRO-SET® Laminating epoxy resin, LAM-125, and hardener, LAM-226, and then coated both above and below the waterline with four coats of WEST SYSTEM® 105/206 epoxy.
According to Ivan, WEST SYSTEM epoxy products stood out from all the rest. “WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET products are of an excellent quality and the references for them are very good. We also liked the fact that you can use them in a variety of weather conditions, from cold to hot.”
Getting ready to launch
Of course, no construction of this size is without its difficulties. After the boat was put on the water, some further work was needed which called for the hull to be drilled in several places. “This actually caused a leak in the interior of the ship!” says Ivan. “But we used WEST SYSTEM G/Flex 655 epoxy and glass strips and we fixed it!”
“We’re very excited to be a part of reviving this Croatian tradition.”
Today, some six years since the initial concept was designed, Aurora Colapis is in her final stages of construction. “She’s been launched onto the river Sava and we made some final adjustments before delivering her to her owner,” Ivan says. “It’s hoped she will make her first tourist voyage on the river Kupa in early June. We’re very excited to be a part of reviving this Croatian tradition.”
To find out the latest news on the project, visit Yacht Center Adriatic’s Facebook page.