India’s Unique Wooden Stitched Sailing Ship Takes Shape
Craftsmanship of the highest order is set to take center stage at Divar Island’s Hodi Innovations Private Limited, a distinguished ship-building company. Here, an extraordinary endeavor is underway as they embark on the construction of an “ancient stitched sailing ship,” a profound tribute to India’s illustrious maritime history and heritage.
This remarkable project has been forged through a tri-partite agreement involving the Union Ministry of Culture, the Indian Navy, and Hodi Innovations, a prominent Goa-based shipbuilder. The keel laying ceremony, held on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, marked a pivotal moment in this ambitious undertaking, attended by esteemed dignitaries from the Indian Navy and the Central Ministry.
The keel laying ceremony witnessed the presence of Union Minister of State for Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi, and Chief of Naval Staff, Hari Kumar, adding an aura of significance to the event. Managing Director of Hodi Innovations, Pratamesh Dandekar, provided insights into the project, emphasizing its importance as a source of pride not only for Goa but for the entire nation. He underscored the celebration of India’s ancient traditions and craftsmanship, the hallmark of this remarkable endeavor.
The ship, measuring 20 meters in length and 6.5 meters in width, will be a marvel constructed using ancient shipbuilding techniques. Wooden planks will be artfully stitched together with coconut fibers, and the wood will be treated with natural resins and oils. Dandekar explained that this extraordinary vessel, reliant on sails for propulsion, will embark on a voyage to retrace historic sea trade routes, serving as a living tribute to the seafaring traditions that have indelibly shaped India’s history.
This visionary project owes its existence to Sanjeev Sanyal, a Member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, who was also present at the ceremony. Sanyal delved into the rich history of India’s maritime traditions, highlighting how Indians pioneered the technique of stitching ships at a time when the rest of the world relied on nails for ship construction. The art of stitching ships was a testament to India’s mastery of this unique craft.
The crucial stitching work in crafting this ship will be executed by a team of traditional shipwrights led by Babu Sankaran, an expert in stitched ship construction. Employing age-old techniques, the wooden planks will be carefully shaped using the traditional steaming method to match the hull’s contours. Each plank will then be meticulously stitched to another using cords and ropes, sealed with a combination of coconut fiber, resin, and fish oil, mirroring the ancient Indian shipbuilding practices.