In much of the world wooden schooners disappeared as a primary means of transportation half a century ago or more.

But along the west coast of the African island nation of Madagascar, isolated villages remain linked by a fleet of sailing ships that look as though the could have been built by 19th century French shipbuilders.

That’s because the skills involved with building the ships, which link remote enclaves, was brought to the village of Belo-sur-Mer in the 1800s by French tradesmen, who taught the craft to locals.

It has been passed down generation through generation, so that the same style of ships are being built today, according to Agence France-Presse.

Approximately a dozen schooners a year are launched annually, and one shipwright said he gets so many orders he can’t keep up with the work.

Boats are the only transportation along Madagascar’s west coast. Even where roads do exist in the western region of the impoverished nation, they are in poor condition, while rising gas prices have made road transport more expensive.

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