At almost 4000 meters above sea level on the Peruvian Andes, it’s definitely impressive to find a beautifully restored British vessel. It’s Yavari, and for many years she has served on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world.
Originally built to be a gunboat, Yavari has then been transformed into a cargo and finally into a cruise vessel for navigation on Lake Titicaca, the largest in South America with 170×60 Kms and the highest navigable one in the world at 3830 mt a.s.l.
Her built was commissioned by the Peruvian government in 1861 to James Watt Foundry of Birmingham, which contracted the construction to Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding of Blackwall.
The contract was clear: the two vessels (Yavari and her sistership Yapura, later turned into a floating hospital) had to be delivered in separate parts. Each crate has to weigh 120 Kg maximum, so in the end 2766 were needed. It took 6 years for shipping and assembly, so Yavari was launched in 1870.
The boat measures 38.5 by 5.20, with a draft of around 3 meters. The first engine developed 60HP and was designed to be fueled by charcoal, but actually it used to work with lama droppings. In 1914 it was replaced with a diesel 4 cylinder unit, built in Sweden by Bolinder.
After many years of service, the vessel was abandoned on the shores of Puno bay, until 1982 when an English lady, Meriel Larken, bought her for restoration. In 1999 Yavari went back to navigation, but not for long: although perfectly working, it was converted into a floating museum. And that’s her nowadays, in our pictures.
Some hundred meters far, on the ground, it’s possible to admire the 52-meter Coya. Built in the same era by the scottish yard William Danny’s & Brothers of Dumbarton, it serviced from 1895 together with Yavari, but went on working until 1986. Today, her original black and green hull has been badly painted in white, and the main deck is a restaurant. Still, some parts as the engine room and the captain’s cabin are well preserved.