A Sunshine Coast story of repair and reuse to give an old boat new life in Vanuatu

A Sunshine Coast story of repair and reuse to give an old boat new life in Vanuatu

    By Laura Chalk  June 9th, 2022

    The ‘floating school bus project’ is the brainchild of a father and son duo who have a passion for sustainability and helping a remote community in need.


    Dean Frith and his son Beau decided to do something about an old boat that had been gathering dust in their shed. After initially considering breaking it up and disposing of it or doing it up to sell, the pair, both boat builders, decided on an even better option.

    "[Dad] was just like, 'Hey, listen, we really believe in recycling and trying to do anything we can to sort of repurpose something ... instead of cutting it up and throwing it away, other people might get way more use out of it,'” Beau told ABC News.

    The men have been chipping away at the project over the past year and a half to get boat ready for its new home 1,895 kilometres away in Vanuatu.

    The idea to repurpose the boat as a ‘floating library and school bus’ was Dean’s. Four years ago he volunteered at a boarding school in Vanuatu and saw the need for a new boat as the one the school was using to transport students from outer islands to the school and back was slow and “in a bit of a state.” In contrast, the boat that Dean and Beau are fixing is smaller and more agile.

    The purpose of the boat will extend beyond transporting books, supplies and kids from surrounding islands to the boarding school on the island of Aore. Dean and Beau envision the wider community using the craft as a means to access small creek systems and remote surrounding areas.

    Once the revamp is finished, Dean and Beau’s boat will be placed in a shipping container to be taken to its new island home. However, it won’t be alone on its journey – building materials, clothing and other useful items will be sent with the boat so that the container doesn’t travel all that way half empty.

    "A big part of what we like to do [is] try and give back as much as we can," Beau said.

    Sending a boat full of supplies to a Pacific Island to help remote kids and get to school is not only a gesture of kindness but an act of home-grown circularity. Beau and Dean show with a bit of outside the box thinking we can all play a part in reducing waste and giving old items new life.

    Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


    Positive Actions

    Laura Chalk

    With a background in Teaching English as a Second Language and Communications, Laura joined Planet Ark in 2016. Laura has a passion for the environment and behaviour change, and is excited about using social media to help people take positive environmental actions everyday.

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