Saturday, December 27, 2008


One of the first of my T2 designs to be completed several years ago was built by Guy Rinfret in Canada. Since that time he has made several improvements to allow easier singlehanded sailing.
There are many detailed photographs and a video at the Bororo website.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Salmo 19

The 5.7 meter Salmo 19 Is the latest project from Andrzej Ksiazyk in Poland. The construction is stitch and glue with 6mm plywood and it carries 10 sq meters of sail.
There is more information at:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A "Flying Proa" of the Popo type

This photo from Yap in the Western Caroline Islands in Micronesia shows the Popo design, one of a couple of variations used there. The hull is normally made of edge sewn planks on a dugout base. The hull is asymmetric with the leeward side flatter than the windward side. Steering is accomplished with either a paddle or a quarter rudder.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How to Build a Timber Outrigger Canoe

Dug-out outrigger canoes, traditional fishing craft found from Madagascar in the west to Indonesia and the Pacific Islands in the east, are made from tree trunks of adequate diameter. But logs for construction of large canoes are becoming difficult to find and construction is consequently becoming more and more expensive. Dugout construction also wastes a lot of timber. For each dugout canoe, two or three planked canoes can be built. The Bay of Bengal Program undertook a project in Nias Island, Sumatra, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka to design and construct planked outrigger canoes that would provide an answer to the problems now being faced in building the traditional outrigger canoes.
You can download the plans and instructions for building this 7 hp diesel powered outrigger.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beyond the Reef (1981)

Anyone who is a fan of both films and sailing knows that it is rare to see authentic local vessels in a movie set in the Pacific Islands. "Beyond the Reef" aka "Shark Boy of Bora Bora" produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis is a rare gem in that it was not only filmed in Bora Bora but also had large doses of locally built paddling and sailing canoes. The sprit rig was adopted in several places in the Pacific after European contact and it is the most commonly used rig in Bora Bora.

The plot is nothing special but the photography both above and below the water is outstanding. Maren Jensen (of the 70's series of Battlestar Gallactica) co-stars with Dayton Ka'ne and enhances the already stunning Bora Bora scenery.

Unfortunately this film only seems to be available in PAL format and won't play on most television sets in the USA. But do keep looking because you'll definitely want this film in your collection.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wade Tarzia's "Short Dragon"

Wade Tarzia's 16' lug rigged outrigger sailing canoe taking on the big guys. You can read more about this canoe in Wikiproa.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Soatau of Samoa

I recently acquired this 37 inch model of a Samoan soatau. The model came from Samoa in the 1920's and is carved from quite a heavy hardwood. It's almost identical to the Amatasi shown in this painting by Herb Kane from Hawaii, except for the absence of a fore and aft deck.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rosario Ciardo's new Wa'apa

Rosario built this Wa'apa in Italy and is enjoying his first sail. The hull in the photo is 16' long in two sections. A third section can be added to make a 24' hull. This design can be sailed with a single or double outrigger and is adaptable to almost any sailing rig.

As you can see, a 16' can be stuffed into a small car, but the 24' may need a small trailer.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The proa Pjoa

The 6.8 meter proa Pjoa built in Poland by Janusz Ostrowski is one of the finest examples of a traditional design rendered in modern materials. Pjoa has performed beyond his expectations as you can see from the many videos available on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Vestas Sailrocket

The Vestas Sailrocket is making impressive attempts at breaking the 50 knot speed barrier for sailing craft. There is much good information about the design and structure at the Sailrocket website.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Malibu Outrigger

It was around 1949 when Warren Seaman launched the first Malibu Outrigger, the forerunner of beach launched multihulls such as the Hobie Cat. The 18' 10" Malibus were almost all home-built and provided amazing performance with their 192 Sq feet of sail area.
Tim Anderson has posted the Malibu sailing manual and many photos at his website.
There is also a Yahoo group devoted to the Malibu. Plans can still be ordered from an address at the Yahoo site for US$50.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How to build a canoe with a log and an adze

Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, about building a seagoing outrigger from logs with primitive tools is well documented in this University of Oregon project report about building a canoe in Kapingamarangi. Kapingamarangi is an isolated atoll in Southern Micronesia populated by Polynesians.
I remember seeing these same canoes heading out to sea every morning when I lived in Pohnpei. They were powered by small outboards but were traditionally sailed with an Oceanic lateen shunting rig.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fun in the Philippines

I just can't get enough of these Philippine paraws. These double outriggers can be traced back to the first settlers to the Visayan region from Borneo in the early 1200's, and to this day this particular design can only be seen around a few islands in the Western Visayas. These big sea spiders can do over 22 knots.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wa'apa on the launch pad

When Lowell Shipe had a few spare moments from building those tough little Pelicans at his Ratty's Boat Works in Creston, North Carolina, he turned out this new Wa'apa sailing canoe. This 24 foot model is built in three bolt-together sections for easy storage and transport.

Monday, June 23, 2008

One proa, two guys, 200 miles

Last week Kevin O'Neill and crew Laurent sailed his proa in the Texas 200. Kevin has documented the story very well with plenty of photos and video.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Need for Speed

Is your crabclaw not quite fulfilling your need for speed? Life been too tame lately? Well hitch that kite boarding kite up to your outrigger and have some real fun.
More photos and video from Hawaii here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kiribati canoes

The canoes of Kiribati have been the inspiration for many canoe building projects. No high tech or expensive materials are required. If you have sailed more conventional boats before, you'll have to unlearn many of the instincts that you've developed. I can't think of a more enjoyable way to explore a tropical lagoon.
More photos and info here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Michael Schacht's Pookie

Michael Schacht's new Pookie design really takes proa design to another level. This 28' proa utilizes inflatable hulls supported by a carbon space frame, allowing it to be disassembled into a 4' x 8' x 14' crate.

The shunting rig is state-of-the art windsurfing technology. Read more at Michaels Proafile blog.
I want one.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ulua launch alert

Martijn Nugteren recently launched his 7.2 meter [23' 8"] Ulua double outrigger in the Netherlands. The hull is all composite Corecell foam core with fiberglass inside and out. The foam sheets for the hull were fitted into a set of female forms and the inside of the hull was fiberglassed before removing it from the molds.

Note the traditional style lashings and blocking used to raise the crossbeams higher above the water. This is standard practice for Hawaiian canoes that race between the islands.

The carved masthead is a crowning touch to this hand built masterpiece. You can view many photos of the construction process at:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Papua New Guinea shunting proa

I found this 18" model in an antique/junk shop. It was labeled as having come from Papua New Guinea in the 1960's. I was delighted with the find because it's very unusual to find a model with a two sail shunting rig.
I've been unable to pinpoint what part of the country this style comes from. The shape of the slatted decking is unusual and I can't find anything similar in any of my reference books.
The model is carefully made and the scale seems accurate. There's actually a thin sliver of bamboo sewn with tiny stitches around the perimeter of the palm frond sail. I'd say it was built by someone who had been building the real thing.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Outrigger Canoes of Bali and Madura, Indonesia

This is quite simply the best source of information about an area that has literally tens of thousands of double outrigger canoes. You will see sailing rigs, rudder systems and crossbeams unlike anything used in the Pacific. Horridge also includes a chapter on the evolution of Pacific canoe rigs and how this subject was treated by other writers.
You can order this book from Amazon or from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Monday, April 28, 2008

PVC amas

Many outrigger canoe builders have used PVC drainage pipe as a quick and easy way to build an ama. While not an ideal material, it does float and is cheap and available almost everywhere.
During my construction project in Fiji last year, I found that my ama options were limited; the bamboo wasn't large enough, I couldn't get any Hibiscus (hau, fau, vau) that was the right shape and I didn't want to take the time to build a plywood ama. I could get 6" [150mm] PVC drain pipe and that's what I used.

Shaping the ends was the easy part. The bow was shaped with a cane knife from a section of fence post and the stern just needed a plywood disc siliconed into place.
Connecting the ama to the crossbeams is the difficult part and I decided to use an old traditional method that uses several struts at each crossbeam. This method has the advantage of keeping the crossbeam ends well above the water and reducing drag when passing through waves. I didn't want the struts to penetrate the PVC pipe, thinking that this was a potential problem area.

I decided to have the struts fit into holes in a short section of timber 2x4 that was screwed and siliconed to the top of the PVC pipe. The key component of this system is the big lashing that leads straight from the crossbeam to the top of the ama (around and under the section of 2x4). Once I tightened that lashing, everything became amazingly stiff and I found that no amount of wave action caused me any concern.
The lashings were cheap poly rope (which I hate, but I couldn't get anything else) covered with innertube strips to protect the cheap line from the sun.
Ideally an ama would have some rocker to make it more adaptable to different load conditions of the canoe, but mine was pretty straight. If you find a really warped one in the pile, grab it; you might even get a discount.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Canoe models by Francis Pimmel

It is rare to find models of Oceanic canoes of such beauty, accuracy and attention to detail. Francis Pimmel's website will have you drooling with admiration and envy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Harmen Hielkema's proa Toroa

Harmen Hielkema's 20' proa Toroa is an elegant blend of the old and the new. The crabclaw sail and asymmetric deep vee hull are ancient features. Combine them with modern light weight construction, dagger rudders and single line pull shunting, and you have something that performs with the best.
Visit Harmen's Blog to read the whole story.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chuck Shipman interview

In the year 2000, Tim Anderson visited Chuck Shipman on the North shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The visit resulted in a great interview covering many things about Hawaiian and Micronesian canoe design and history.
The above photo illustrates Tim's method of "taking the lines" off a proa from Kapingamarangi, a Polynesian atoll in the Southern area of Micronesia.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Post Apocalyptic Proa

This illustration by Michael Schacht is one of my all time favorite examples of proa art. Several years ago, Rhisiart Gwilym and Michael Schacht decided to enter a short story contest - Rhisart did the writing and Michael did the illustrations. The story would be a distillation of ideas from the novel he was working on - a post apocalyptic tale of how life might be after the Great War - if things turned out well. It was a vision of a semi-nomadic tribal culture which had returned to the old shamanic traditions of ancient Albion, and it also involved bee-keeping and proas and mysterious silent, black triangular flying craft of enormous size.
Be sure to visit Michael's ProaFile blog.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ancient sail found

British Museum "discovers" 2 pre-European Tahitian canoe sails

(Tahitipresse) - The British Museum in London has "discovered" amongst its collections two pandanus Tahitian canoe sails dating from pre-European times.

"Nobody believed it existed anywhere in the world," said Tara Hiquily, a Polynesian canoe specialist at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands. These sails date back to three types of pre-European sailing canoes used in today's Society Islands of French Polynesia, she said.

There were the "va'a motu", an outrigger canoe; "tipaerua", a double-hulled canoe; and the "pahi", or very large double-hulled canoe. All the woven pandanus canoes were nearly 10 meters (32 ft.) long and 1.50 meters (4.9 ft.) wide.

The British Museum sent a series of photos to the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, where they are being carefully examined. The museum in Tahiti's west coast Commune of Punaauia considers the discovery a major event because no other examples of such sails are known to exist in any other national museums.

The discovery apparently was made when British Museum staff was taking an inventory of their vast collections of artifacts, which include a wide variety of original works from Polynesia.

What remain unknown for the moment is who collected the two sails and exactly when the sails were made during the pre-European times in Tahiti.

Archaeological excavations in French Polynesia have allowed specialists to update the remains of canoes, but never the sails used with the canoes for both short and long voyages among the islands.

On Huahine in the Leeward Islands, for example, fragments of a canoe dating back more than 1,000 years were found. On the Tuamotu atoll of Anaa, fragments of a twin-hulled voyaging canoe more than 13 meters (42.7 ft.) long were found.

However, no such excavations have enabled archaeologists to understand the techniques used to weave and attach the pandanus sails to the canoes. The only clues come from drawings and paintings done by early European navigators, who accurately presented historians with views of the Polynesian canoes in use at the time. But such illustrations do not necessarily provide a direct link to the pre-European period.

The British Museum's "discovery undoubtedly will provide a better understanding of the ingenuity of the talented Polynesian navigators who traveled considerable distances aboard canoes made from plant materials.

The British Museum's collection includes one of the earliest documented surviving sailing canoes brought to Europe from the eastern Pacific, according to the museum's Internet Web site. The first object from the region to be acquired by the museum, it was collected at the Tuamotu atoll of Nukutavake in June 1767 by Captain Samuel Wallis, just before Lt. James Cook's first Pacific voyage.

As the Web site notes, "The Tuamotus are low-lying islands with few forests, or trees large enough for a hull to be crafted from a single trunk. Instead the hull is composed of 45 wood sections bound together with continuous lengths of plaited coir, a coarse fiber made from the seed of the coconut palm. It probably had an outrigger (a parallel hull) to balance it in the waves.

"A single plank seat survives to suggest the manner of its use and on the upper edge of the left side there are burn marks made by fishing lines.

"Wallis brought it back to England lashed to the deck of his ship, HMS Dolphin. Given this treatment it is in remarkably good condition," the museum Web site notes.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


My little 16' Tarawa waiting for the wind.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fiberglass Ulua

Colin and Amanda took delivery of their new Ulua last week. Here they're taking it out on its first sail. The next day I launched mine and we chased each other around the Coromandel Harbor.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


This drawing entitled "Outrigger" by Joseph C. Weaver, shows the elegant complexity of how the ama is attached to the crossbeams in a proa from the Caroline Islands in Micronesia.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A vinta of Zamboanga

A vinta approaches Zamboanga in the Southern Philippines. Note how the bamboo amas extend forward of the main hull.
Taken from Bishop Museum Occasional Papers Vol XXIV

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hokulea Launching Chant

Ia Wa’a Nui

This traditional chant was used at the launching of Høküle'a on March 8, 1975. After the canoe was launched at Hakipu'u (in Kualoa Regional Park), it was paddled out, then back toward shore. The captain was Herb Kawainui Kåne, co-founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society; the kahuna was Ka'upena Wong, assisted by Kalena Silva and Keli'i Tau'å. As the canoe approached shore, the crew paddled to the following chant. (“The stroke is slow. The paddle is struck a little in front of the paddler on the return of the paddle. The timing is thus: Ia wa’a [thump] nui [thump], ia wa'a [thump] kioloa [thump], ia wa'a [thump] peleleu [thump].”)

Ia wa’a nui (That large canoe)
Ia wa’a kioloa (That long canoe)
Ia wa ‘a peleleu (That broad canoe)
A lele måmala (Let chips fly)
A manu a uka (The bird of the upland)
A manu a kai (The bird of the lowland)
' I'iwi pølena (The red Hawaiian honeycreeper (a native bird; the young 'i'iwi was yellowish—“pølena”))
A kau ka høkü (The stars hang above)
A kau i ka malama (The daylight arrives)
A pae i kula (Bring [the canoe] ashore)
‘Åmama, ua noa (‘Åmama, the kapu is lifted)

After the canoe landed and the kapu on it was lifted, the kahuna asked: “Pehea ka wa'a, pono anei?” (“How is the canoe, is it good?”); Those aboard answered: “'Ae, maika'i loa ka wa'a Høküle'a” (“Yes, the canoe is very good indeed!”)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pumai te rangi and Hemi hemi

Pumai te rangi is a 27' Tahitian tipairua that I built in cedar strip composite for Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr in New Zealand. Hemi hemi is an 18' stock fiberglass Ulua.
Photo by Hoturoa.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Marshall Islands Proa

There has been a renaissance in sailing traditional canoes in the Marshall Islands. This canoe from Ailuk appears to have it all under control.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tahitian tacking outriggers

Tahitian outriggers with large sprit rigs and slim amas require some acrobatics to keep them level.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fijian Thamakau

I photographed this Fijian thamakau in Viti Levu in 1975. They're harder to find now.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Stripper number one

After reading David Hazen's "Stripper's Guide to Canoe Building" back in 1980, I couldn't wait to get started and adapt his methods to building outrigger canoes. This was my first attempt while living in Saipan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Puluwat Nutty Putty

Cartoon by Jo Hudson from "Love for Sail" by Mark Hassall and Jim Brown

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hawaiian canoe racing

Reef points? We don't need no stinkin' reef points.
Photo by Gloria Reed.