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.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

T2 Splash

Andrew Bennett recently launched his T2.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Bionic Broomstick

Skip Johnson has been working at the bleeding edge of experimental, backyard proa design and construction.  Skip's 14' Bionic Broomstick sailed successfully recently in Texas.

The photo shows the proa tipped on it's side with the ama in the air.  The rigid wing sail is lying on the grass.  Since proas sail in either direction, there is a cassette rudder at each end.
Skip is not exactly new to this sort of thing having built a larger proa some years ago.
Here's a great video about Skip and the kayaks he's designed and built.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Velo o te Moana: Spear of the Ocean

The first three man canoe carved in PukaPuka for 30 years has been delivered to the museum in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.  It is similar to the very special 50-60 year old model I have from PukaPuka.
You can read more about its construction here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hull Varnishing

Andrew Bennett is varnishing his T2 hull and had this advice:  
"Please repeat to your followers your advice to avoid varnish fumes.  I got a nasty headache yesterday, in spite of using a chemical respirator.  I kept it well inside the garage, and so got a buzz just walking across the garage to put it on.  I keep it now at the garage door."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Outrigger Junior

The Outrigger Junior by John Harris of CLC.

Several are now being built at the WoodenBoat School.

Hollow curved crossbeams.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Proanauts of Poland

We are a group of friends sailing proas from Poland and Germany.  Every year we meet to share our experience and to raid together to gain some more experience.
Three boats went for Proa Raid 2014.  All of them were shunting proas with crab claw sails.  Strictly shunting, no tacking, no safety gear to protect the fail of the mast in back-wind.  No motor.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Outriggers Lost in the Sea of Time

An overlooked aspect of cultural change and conditions for sustainable development in Oceania.
By Thomas Malm

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Outrigger Canoe Surfing

Certainly one of the best videos to either excite you or make sure you never try it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pages of Proa History

Robert Patrick sent me a link to these pages from the July 1962 issue Of Popular Boating magazine.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More Uluas Coming Off Their Molds

Claudio Carvalho's Ulua, being built in Brazil, is ready to come off the mold.

Stewart Jackson's Ulua in Western Australia has two extra planks along the gunwale to give it additional freeboard.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Manihi Tacking Outrigger 1954

When David Nelson's father, John M. Nelson, sailed around the world as a crew member on the brigantine Yankee in 1954, he had the chance to see and sail different types of outrigger canoes.  He was so impressed with the performance of this one from the island of Manihi in the Tuomotus that he measured it up with the intent of someday building one.  It wasn't built but his son David might just do it. (I'm trying to convince him)

The hull is a simple flat bottom and was reported to be quite light.  With a lusty crew, it should go like a rocket.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Made For Waves

Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa from the big Island of Hawaii sent me a link to this very beautiful and inspiring video.  Click on the photo above to view the video.

The Organization Na Pe'a is also doing great work in getting young people involved in canoe sailing.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Possibly the oldest outrigger canoe plan intended for the backyard builder, this 12' paddler appeared in the July 1961 issue of Boy's Life magazine.  Sorry I missed it at the time because it could have speeded up my personal development.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Around the Workshops

Jeremy Lloyd's Ulua ready to take on Hawaiian waters.

Paul Vasterling's T2 being inspected by Quality Control

Andrew Bennett's T2 getting its ama struts setup.

Jim Richardson's stretched Ulua.

Mike Lewis's T2 ready to go.
And Phil McLean's Va'a Motu side panel on the operating table.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


 A transom can be very useful on any boat,  where it can provide a convenient mounting for a rudder and even an outboard motor.   But with a long, narrow and pointy ended canoe, the weight  of those things are better placed more amidships where the trim will be less affected.
I must give the credit for this idea to some unknown fisherman from the Cook Islands .  No doubt similar solutions are used on many Pacific islands.  On one of my visits there, I saw a small flat bottomed plywood canoe with an outboard bracket that consisted of a length of 2x4 shoved through two rectangular holes in the sides of the canoe.  Nothing could be simpler or less prone to failure than this.

This Tamanu canoe uses the 2x4 to support the outboard on the ama side and the kick up rudder on the opposite side.  The leeboard should go on the same side as the rudder.

The above drawing shows the structure used on the Va'a Motu design.  The wood piece lashed on top of the gunwales allows more distance between the gudgeons for better rudder stability.

If the canoe is heavily loaded or trimmed down at the stern, the waves can hit the mount.  A thin plywood shield, held on with webbing hinges and a lashing, deflects any spray away from the motor.

On the Va'a Motu I used a fabric spray shield attached with snap fasteners on the outboard motor side.

The Va'a Motu cassette rudder on its mount.