A typical Boracay Island sailing paraw in Australia? Why? To promote the best island destination in South East Asia of course!
Robert Graham, who founded specialist travel agency and wholesaler, All About Asia in 1991, thought it would be a terrific idea! Being a sailor from his preteens, Robert had been visiting Boracay Island since the late 1980s and regularly sailed paraws. He started planning the paraw’s construction in November 2011, after visiting the island with the idea of buying a new paraw and having it shipped to Australia. After taking measurements and many photos of the paraws, he realized that the shipping costs were simply going to be too high. He then decided to build a replica in the backyard of his house in Kenmore, Brisbane. Robert had built many sailing dinghies since he was 12 years old and thought, even though he was in his 60’s, he could easily build a paraw.
Well, he did! But it definitely wasn’t easy! Traditional paraws are constructed on a log keel with plywood sides and deck. They use bamboo for the mast, boom and also the outrigger floats. Because bamboo is hard to come by in Australia, he decided to construct the mast and boom of aluminium. The outrigger floats are pvc water pipe.
Robert’s paraw has to be “trailerable” so it can easily be transported to different locations. Consequently it has a laminated keel to make it light enough to put on a trailer. It is also able to be pulled apart easily and everything fits on the specially designed aluminium trailer.
The Boracay paraws are tied together with heavy fishing line. This would be impractical for Robert’s paraw which is lashed together with tie down straps. It can be put together, rigged and ready to sail in 40 minutes. It took many hours of innovation and experimentation to be able to do this.
Robert named his paraw “Paru Paro”, which means butterfly in the Filipino Tagalog language. It was officially launched by the DOT attaché, Ms Consuelo Jones, on the 7th June 2012 on the Brisbane River. With regular sails up and down the river it brings positive recognition of the Philippines, in particular, Boracay Island, as a fun, vibrant destination. Its huge 40 square meter mainsail proudly displays “Its more fun in the Philippines” in large print! It can also be used a static display, as it was at the 2012 Philippine Mabuhay Festival. Held in October right in front of the Brisbane Town Hall in King George Square, the paraw became a star attraction with people lining up to take photos.