Sunday, January 25, 2015

Geoff in PNG

Geoff Husa sailing his Wa'apa near Madang, Papua New Guinea.  Read his blog here.

Sailin' Shan Skailyn from geoff husa on Vimeo.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Voyage of the P5 Proa Lili'uokalani

Reto Brehm has published an account of his recent cruise along the coast of Croatia.  You may remember Reto from his ingenious crabclaw reefing setup.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Single Outrigger Canoe of the Cook Islands

One of my personal heroes is Te Rangi Hiroa otherwise known as Peter Buck.  He was a doctor, military leader, health administrator, politician, anthropologist, author of Vikings of the Sunrise, and eventually the director of Honolulu's Bishop Museum. 
He traveled extensively through Polynesia in the 1930's and gathered rapidly disappearing information about the old culture.  This is his study of the canoes of the Cook Islands.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Va'a Motu Racing in Tahiti

I'm glad to see that the fleet of Va'a Motu (island canoe) is still active and having plenty of fun with their huge gaff rigs.  Captain Cook observed the transit of Venus in this bay in 1769.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hawaii with Kiko

Instead of shoveling snow, why not visit Kiko in Hawaii.  He'll take you on a memorable outing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

T2 by Guy Rinfret

Le Lac Saint-Jean se fait beau pour Bororo. from Michel Boissonneault on Vimeo.

Guy Rinfret was one of the very first builders of the T2 proa.  This new and beautifully shot video shows that it doesn't take much sail area to get it moving.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Disappearing Fillet Radiused Chine

If you watched the last America's Cup races, you may have noticed that the hull shape has basically been turned upside down; flat on the bottom with a radiused chine and veed on the foredeck.  I'm sure that millions of dollars were spent reaching that design conclusion, so the least I can do is figure out a way for the backyard builder to achieve a close result (minus the carbon fiber). 

Radiused chines have previously been constructed with strip planking in between the plywood panels, but fitting the long tapered strips is very time consuming.  What I am proposing is a method that uses disposable fillets in a stitch and tape hull.

Stitch the panels together by any method that you choose.  In this example 
I'm using 6mm (1/4") plywood.

I'm planning an outside radius of 50mm (2") so the spatula tool must be shaped to the correct radius and width.  Install a fillet using the lightest and easiest to shape filler, like microspheres or Q cells.  Even polyester resin could be used because the fillet is only temporary.  Mix it as dry as possible for easy shaping later.

Lay in heavy double bias fiberglass tape.

Remove the stitching and grind or plane off the chine while checking the radius often with a plywood template.  Use a long sanding board to make it fair.  This is the hard part but it will look great.

Finish off with lighter fiberglass sheathing on the outside. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baltimore Wa'apa

From Robert Kearney:
Finally splashed the Wa 'Apa that I've been working on for a while now. Shouldn't have taken as long as it did but life has a way of getting in the way of the fun stuff. It also took me a while to think/experiment through some of the stuff I hadn't done before like working with fiberglass and epoxy. I just went with glass on the bottom of the vaka and ama. One of the things that I had to think through was how to assemble the plywood ama. Once I realized that I could pre-assemble the two top pieces and one bottom piece together, adding the final bottom piece became as easy as putting the lid on a box. I have a few photos of that. At any rate, I wanted to sail it at least once before the water get's too cold here in Maryland. It sails great! Thanks for a well thought out design.
The rig is a 47 sq. ft. lug sail that I used on my plastic canoe. It's in a temporary step. A bit under-canvassed but good for now.  The leeboard mount is temporary (attaches to a clamp on seat) for now.
Pictures are accessible at: 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ulua Wins!

From Larry Haff:
 Just to let you know, I entered my Ulua (Nai'A) for judging in a big boat gathering here, the Mid-Atlantic Small Boat Festival in St. Michaels, Maryland.  There were about 200 boats judged, about evenly divided between traditional and contemporary categories.  My Ulua won best of show in the contemporary class.  I was rather shocked since my boat building skills are rather rudimentary.  I use wood strip construction for the ama and made the safety ama from an old fishing rod case. The sail was made for me by Douglas Fowler of Ithaca, New York.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Scot Copeland, Teacher

Hi Gary, here’s a couple boats that I’d built with students. The two-man was carved out at 1” -1’ scale and mylar was used to trace off the S&G panel shapes. That technique worked surprisingly well, with just a little adjusting on the final wire-up. I thought you’d like looking at the ama designs - the second of which you can see your influence!
The two-man ama is local WR cedar, but the kids and I hollowed it out with gouges so it’s was fairly successful. The one-man’s ama is cheap 3/4” Home Depot pine that I stacked cake fashion. Defects were located so that we could place them on the inner layers. My students did a little math and the interior “slices” were gutted with a saber saw - so it’s hollow in a stacked-cake fashion.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fiji Under A Junk Rig

We've just returned from two weeks in Rakiraki, Fiji.  As extra baggage, I took along a junk rig I had used on my Wa'apa some years ago.  The wooden battens were too long so I cut them in half at home and prepared splicing plates, made from Micarta, so that I could glue them back together when I arrived.  I also took a carbon fiber yard made from the top half of a windsurf mast.  It was also cut and sleeved so it could be joined later.
This junk rig is the modern cambered type; a bitch to build but a joy to use.  Rakiraki is one of the windiest locations in the Fiji Islands and kite surfing is one of the more popular tourist sports there.  Just as expected, the wind was 20-30 knots almost every day.  The photos were taken in a very protected area.  Reefing was as simple as lowering the halyard and snugging up the yard hauling parrel.  (There are lots of parrels to play with on a junk rig)  The lower three panels can be dropped into the lazy jacks and you can end up with what looks like a very small crab claw sail.

 The fishing was poor with only one boated but several lost in the coral heads where they like to dive.  This canoe is the second Tamanu I built in Fiji and is a simplified version without the self bailing cockpits.  It's now been disassembled and stored under a friend's pole house, waiting for our next visit.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


 I guess this photo answers the question about what you really need to catch a fish like this.  Niue is a small island in the South Pacific where there are almost no beaches and the sea bottom slopes down very steeply.  This means the big fish, and whales too, swim by closely and you don't have to paddle far to catch one.  This photo was taken by the late Glenn Jowitt in 1982.

When Captain Cook arrived in 1774, he was chased off 
and later named the place Savage Island.

The canoes or vaka are small and lightly built so that they can be carried down steep cliffs to be launched.  They are well suited for paddling in strong winds with their low ends to maintain better control.  The hulls are dugout and can be as thin as 1/4" (6mm) thick.