Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ulua by William Manuel

When I built my first strip canoe some 30 years ago, I was astounded at the beautiful creature that resulted from a bundle of sticks and some staples.  It was an empowering experience for me as it has been for William Manuel in Maui, Hawaii.   Now just add some crystal clear water and some tradewinds, to complete the experience.
Many prospective builders feel that a stripper would require more skill than what they have, however I have found that plywood hulls are more prone to serious errors than a strip planked hull. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Zipper Reef

 A couple of years ago I sewed in a plastic zipper on to one of my Ulua sails.  Due to the sail's geometry, conventional reefing systems don't work very well.  The zipper removed at least 25% of the area and even better, it was the upper section.  The problem I had was with my amateur sailmaking skills which resulted in a prominent ridge across the sail when the removable section was in place.  It didn't seem to hurt performance noticeably but it was ugly.  A pro sailmaker would get the tension between the fabric and zipper right and it would look much better.
But as is, the smaller sail works really well, can handle a lot of wind, and looks great too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sakman Chamorro

Mario Borja and his crew in San Diego, California have constructed a 47' replica of the Flying Proa of Tinian Island that the English explorer Anson disassembled and carried back to England.  There it was reassembled and drawings were made.  Mario writes:
"Here is my finished proa. Redwood. Dimensions: 5 ft high @ beam, 47 ft long, 5600 lbs dry. Draft 18 inches. 30 ft mast. Bamboo. Started project on March 2010 and finished on March 2011. Hit 15 knots in San Diego Bay. Still working on perfecting the steering paddle. Many prototypes tested. Vertical model works the best to date. Will be undergoing calibration. Upgrading booms to fit spruce wood"
"These words written 270 years ago about the ingenious invention of our Chamorro ancestors have served to ignite the passion in our effort to bring to life the very vessel that have inspired many to date. Reading it again and again brings me share tears of pride for my culture and the gift from our ancestors. Let us read it aloud to our children as a blessing."

"These Indians are no ways defective i...n understanding, for their flying proas in particular, which during ages past have been the only vessels employed by them, are so singular and extraordinary an invention that it would do honour to any nation, however dexterous and acute, since, if we consider the aptitude of this proa to the navigation of these islands, which lying all of them nearly under the same meridian, and with the limits of the trade wind, require the vessels made use of in passing from one to the other to be particularly fitted for sailing with the wind upon the beam; or if we examine the uncommon simplicity and ingenuity of its fabric and contrivance, or the extraordinary velocity with which it moves, we shall in each of these articles, find it worthy of our admiration, and deserving a place amongst the mechanical productions of the most civilised nations where arts and sciences have most eminently flourished..." - From Lord Anson's voyage around the world - October 1742

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ulua in Puerto Rico

Mark Williams in San Juan, Puerto Rico recently launched
 his Ulua canoe, possibly the first with a gaff rig.