Our loyal readers – yes, both of you – may recall a hint of sorts we dropped a few months back regarding thinking about building a new boat. Things are now at a point where I am able to share more, as I have things underway, if at a pace that is in line with many a home-built project.
As I mentioned, I have been fascinated for some time with the skin-on-frame building style. I love that it is so closely tied to tradition – even using nylon skin. I also love the idea of using trunnels and lashing – such elegant simplicity. So that was one theme in my mind. Another long-time interest has been outrigger canoes. Love ’em – have for years. The look, the history – they have been the object of much of my recent doodles. Then there is the longest-held desire of all: to build to my own design. Well, I got to thinking and I got to drawing… and the result is a marriage of these themes. I am designing and building a skin-on-frame outrigger canoe.
A few thoughts may jump to your minds, like, “gee, do you have any experience with either skin-on-frame or outrigger canoes?” And the answer is, in both cases, no. I have read a bunch, but the fact is that this is a grand experiment. The results could be sub-par, but I have aimed to keep things reasonably simple and will get the boat in paddling shape before investing in rigging for sail. I can always bail (no pun intended) if I don’t think the end results merit going farther. And of course, I have you all to give me feedback before I get much farther (I am working on the ama first because it’s smaller and could be done very cheaply).
So without first ado, here are some incredibly lousy reproductions of my drawings (I’ll try to replace with better versions). She is 18′ long, for those trying to get a sense of scale. The aren’t complete because I wanted to get myself building. I have lofted parts separately and may post those along the way. Click on the image to see bigger versions.
You may note that I have consciously blended traditions in a sort of nautical mash-up. The sailing outrigger is Indo-Pacific, of course, though I grabbed an ama connection approach that is from the African extreme of outrigger territory. The ends then hail from Central Canadian birch-bark tradition while the rig is decidedly Anglo-American. Some will call this a hash; I call it a gorgeous mosaic of cultures. I like fusion in food and music; why not boats too?
Now, let’s remember that I am taking a flyer here and this is my first time putting my wood where my pencil is, if you will. So let us review how to put comments in a positive light:
- If you think she won’t sail well, you can say “I bet she’ll be a champ going downwind and downcurrent”
- If you think she might be unsound, you might try “that’s a great boat for shoals – I wouldn’t bother taking her anywhere else!”
- If you think she’s ugly, I suggest “what a fine boat for cruising the harbor in the dead of night”
- And so on – you get the drift ;^)
Seriously – I want feedback, but be gentle!
One might also ask: whither the boat I just built a couple years ago? Well, there have been two related problems with PEACE OF THE PUZZLE. One, it is heavy enough that my wife struggles to lift it, diminishing opportunities for and interest in use. Second, given the weight, I can’t take it out myself with one or two kids, which I would have more opportunity to do, given schedules. I expect a skin-on-frame boat, especially one that disassembles a bit, will be much lighter and, at least, give my wife a break.