Izivunguvungu Boat Building Project: building for a better future

  • An interior shot of the BlueEyes 20's cabin showing its completed centreboard case.
  • Mark Algra, the man behind Izivunguvungu's Boat Building Project.
  • Work began on the BlueEyes 20 five years ago and still requires another eight months of effort before completion.
  • Nkosiyabo Gayeka applies epoxy to a freshly laid section of the hull.
  • All work is hands on, giving everyone a chance to learn the skills required for those wanting to enter the boat building industry.
  • Once complete, the BlueEyes 20 is expected to be a safe, fast performance sailer.
  • Basic plans and specifications of the BlueEyes 20 sports trailer sailer.
Date:2 October 2012 Author: Sean Woods Tags:,

In this imperfect world of ours it’s way too damn easy to slip into a negative, cynical mindset. Well, if like me, you prefer accentuating the positive rather than grinding away over the bad – chances are you’ll find what the Izivunguvungu (meaning “sudden strong wind” in isiZulu) Boat Building Project is accomplishing to be a positive breath of fresh air.

Situated in a modest workshop in Simons Town’s naval dockyard, this non-profit organisation is busy teaching youth from around the South Peninsula the skills required to secure them steady employment in our local boat building industry.

Training takes place every Saturday and is very hands-on – giving everyone the opportunity to come to grips with hand and power tools, learn basic measurements and calculations, as well as become familiar with mixing and applying epoxy and the like. “We’ve had quite a number of youngsters come through our doors that have gone on to find work in the industry,” says Mark Algra, the man driving the project.

At present, the school’s busy constructing the first BlueEyes 20 design in the world. Penned by renowned UK yacht designer Keith Callaghan, this six-metre long wooden sports trailer sailer features three berths, a stable, yet high performance hull and fully retractable centreboard, allowing it to explore shallow waters.

Needless to say, taking a project of this size on requires plenty of time and dedication. Algra explains: “We started this project five years ago, and still have about eight months of hard work ahead of us before we can put it in the water and enjoy sailing it. As a consequence, it’s pretty rare to find a youngster keen enough to hang in for the long haul.”

However, his star pupil, Nkosiyabo Gayeka, a grade-11 student at Ocean View High has already proven he has what it takes. Nicknamed “Yster” (iron) by the guys at Izivunguvungu because of his strong will and dedication, he’s been involved in the project right from the start, and has every intention of seeing it through to the end.

This young man has every intention of making a career out of boat building. So, now he’s on school holidays, instead of messing about with his buddies like others his age, he’ll be spending his time work shadowing the guys at the Whisper Boat Building Academy. Says Algra: “When Yster’s finished school we’ll definitely be placing him, he’s already more than proven his worth.”

To find out more about Izivunguvungu, visit their Web site www.izivungu.co.za