20 ft 9 in
A well made dugout, probably evolved in isolation and used for fishing and communication.
Absence of an outrigger on a dugout is usually an indication of sheltered waters - in this case 800 miles up the Zaire River.
In 1974/75 the Zaire River Expedition, under the leadership of major John Blashford-Snell, travelled for 2,712 miles down Africa's longest river, the Zaire, previously known as the Congo.
Had it been possible to make this voyage in the opposite direction and without the help of engine power, the history of Africa would have been very different and 'the dark continent' would never have earned that sobriquet. For it was not only the Zaire, but all the great rivers of Africa; the Nile, Niger and Zambesi that defied every attempt to penetrate the continent by water.
The Sudd, the massive reed beds of the Nile protected its source from the curious eyes of the Pharaohs. The Romans and all the great European explorers of the last century who attempted to find its source by going up-stream were defeated and in the same way the cataracts and rapids in the lower reaches of the other great rivers defied those who would sail or row up them. When portage was attempted there were mosquitoes, crocodiles, lions and very hostile natives.
But all the while and for thousands of years boats such as this one, brought back to England along with all his annotated charts, by the navigator of the Zaire River Expedition, Squadron Leader Mike Barnard, have plied the hidden waterways deep in the interior of the continent and have evolved in isolation from the influence of others.
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