Saturday, August 27, 2011


I leveled everything up on two planks and blocked up the ama to the right height.  The forward kiato is connected to the ama with four struts so I drilled holes through the skin and deep into the foam until I hit the center web.  I poured epoxy thickened with microspheres into the holes and inserted the 1-1/4" dowels.  The aft kiato only has a single vertical strut installed in the same way.  The pitch trim of the ama can be adjusted by moving the lashing point on the aft strut.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ama glassing

 I finished the final shaping of the ama and got it ready for glassing.  It gets two layers of 6oz cloth with an overlap at the keel and deck ridge.  I glass one side each day with both layers going on at the same time.

The new bottle of hardener I opened had turned red which is annoying but doesn't affect its effectiveness. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011


It was time to give the Va'a Motu a little sun.  I'd have liked to roll it into the water but the ama still has to be fiberglassed.  There will be hiking seats on both sides when I get them made.  I also need to make the hull seats but am working on ideas to make them easily removable.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ama shaping

Four hours of sawing, power planing and long board sanding later and it looks about right.  The sharp edges will be rounded to take the fiberglass.  The sanding is done with very coarse 40 grit paper to reduce the possibility of delamination later.  You sand for fairness but not smoothness.

There is an excellent resource on shaping and glassing polystyrene surfboards here:
How to build your first surfboard.
And if your really serious, you'll want to read Burt Rutan's "Moldless Composite Aircraft Construction"

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ama

Two layers of 5" (125mm) polystyrene foam with a plywood web/stringer glued in between.  The vee side will be the top, but he bottom will be round.   I like amas to shed water quickly when rising out of a wave. 
Now all I have to do is cut away everything that doesn't look like an ama.
Unfortunately I have some paying work that needs my attention, so progress will slow down for the next week or so.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hull paint

The outside of the hull is now painted and the second kiato is glued up.  Now it's time to drive over to the big city and find some foam blocks for the ama.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Snake

 The first side panel ready to go on the forward cross beam ("kiato" in Tahitian).  I'll be interested to see how much spring-back I get tomorrow when I release it from the blocking.  I planed several feet of each end into a taper so it will be tapered in both dimensions.  Saves weight and looks more elegant.
Two coats of undercoat inside the hull after much sanding and filling. When I built the canoes in Fiji I used almost no sandpaper and didn't have a sander.  I just smoothed everything with a block plane and I must have saved dozens of hours of labor.