Back to reality or back from reality?

We returned from three months in Fiji a couple of days ago. Coming from balmy trade wind breezes to a late winter cold spell in NZ is quite a shock. I have a funny tan on my feet from wearing Crocs out in the canoe; brown dots on the top of my feet.
The whole project went very well with the 20 foot Tamanu hull completed in about two weeks. A few more days for the 2x4 crossbeams and PVC pipe ama and we were able to at least go fishing with the 2 hp Yamaha motor. Meanwhile I made the spars, rudder, and leeboard from Fijian Kauri (Dakua).
Of course I made a few changes from the prototype that I had built two years ago. I tried to optimize the hull for subsistence fishing with eight feet of the mid hull undecked (for throwing fish into) and I recessed the fore and aft decks 4" to allow storage of rods, gaff, etc to be stored there without falling overboard. There was still six feet of water tight storage at each end. I used plastic barrel tops for hatches and I can't praise them too much. Industrial strength and a big enough hole to throw an anchor through.
I had always wanted to gain experience with the sprit rig along with the fact that it was one of the first European style rigs to be adopted in Oceania. I brought an 89 Sq Ft sail cut down from a beach cat sail. It had reef points that reduced it to 70 Sq Ft. I also brought a 50 Sq Ft triangular sail for the high winds I was expecting at this time of the year. I wasn't disappointed as the wind was frequently around 30 knots or more. My old sailing gloves will never recover. The small sail was used quite a lot and 12 knots of boat speed was easily reached.
I was very impressed by the performance of the sprit sail. It was certainly excellent to weather. Reefing it can be tricky standing on a very narrow canoe but fortunately there was always a beach nearby where it can be done more easily. The mast for this rig is unstayed and rotates. This is especially useful when approaching the shore downwind because you can sheet out until the sail is luffing out over the bow.
My wife Rose is an addicted fisherman (fisherwoman?) and a lure or two was always trailing behind us. I've never eaten so much fish in my life. The drill that we developed when we had a strike usually just involved luffing the sail and passing the rod around the mainsheet if the fish was coming in from the wrong side. I was the gaff man and greatly enjoyed swinging them up and into the bilge. When it was a Barracuda my feet stayed up on the gunwale until it was killed.
Over the next weeks I'll cover some of the lessons learned and some other experiences we had in Rakiraki, Fiji.


  1. Welcome back, Gary! I'm looking forward to more documentation about the trip. --Wade

  2. What Wade said! Can't wait for more pics and stories...



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