The skin-on-frame outrigger canoe gets her ribs!

Steaming set-up We took the deep plunge into the world of steam-bending and came out of it… with ribs! Ribs that look pretty good! Ribs that seem to be pretty fair! Woot!

We finally got a spell of great weather and I was able to grab two days of staycation to buckle down on this step. Some before and after is worth a look. Here is my set-up, minus the heat source (an electronic hot-plate / portable range, $20 from Target. My wife informs me that the kettle is Felix the Cat, though I am not fully convinced this isn’t further evidence of this being a Mickey Mouse operation.

White oak ribsHere are the ribs. I went with the tried and true white oak. Ribs lined up on boat

Here is the whole business running. It was tricky – definitely on the outside end of the heat tolerance for some parts.

And now… the results! Skin-on-frame outrigger canoe with ribs

I’m pretty happy with it, at this point. Now, on to final fairing and lashing…
Skin-on-frame outrigger canoe with ribs

4 Comments for “The skin-on-frame outrigger canoe gets her ribs!”

Col Rodrick


Hi Tim Just wondering if you have any further feedback on the SOF performance in real life. 6 years later, is there anything you would’ve done differently? Did the mast step and ribbing sustain the pressures of the rig?

And of course, how did it sail? Any video of it in action?

Am considering a similar path and would love to hear of pitfalls to avoid.




Thanks for reaching out, Col. I wish I could say the sailing rig has been a triumphant success, but it has not lived up to my hopes thus far. It took a couple of iterations to get the leeboard to work well (read: “not break”), and I have yet to find a steering arrangement that makes me confident. The biggest issue, though, as you suggest, has been the twist in the hull that develops. She will move along fairly nicely, once tuned right, but in any kind of breeze I have found the look of the forward end to be alarming.

I may continue to play with the rig over time, though I have enjoyed her greatly just under paddle and haven’t had a great pull to keep whacking at the sailing rig. I also admit to trying to be further out the purest spectrum than many would bother being. In reaction to my leeboard issues, a guy I met suggested coating it in ‘glass and epoxy. I couldn’t bring myself to go there.

I have thought about another sailing SoF boat, and I am thinking to cave a bit on having more extensive frames. It is also a ketch – spreading the rig seems like a better idea.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to post pictures.

Col Rodrick


Hi Tim

I will have to find that post on the lee board. But from memory there is a chap on the proa file who is using a little quarter rudder as lee board, thereby solving two problems (steering and leeway) in one. He shunts then moves the quarter rudder to the other end of his boat.

When I was sailing as a lad many many years ago, I used to have a large rudder on my boat which was enclosed in glass (fibre). It was glassed by a mate of my father’s who did a lot of this sort of thing. When new, and actually for a few seasons it was not easy to see that it had glass around the timber. And it also saved my rudder from sustaining much damage when I got caught in a squall as I was coming back to shore. If the lee board was covered with glass professionally then I wouldn’t worry too much about the purity of it.

On the flex side – I did hear from Gary Dierking a few months ago when I started thinking of SOF. Gary had his own concerns with too much flex under sail. I wonder if Tim Anderson, in his instructable on the SOF outrigger (Marshallese design) sailing canoe, solved this problem with the ply deck? And perhaps the shunting design, with mast step out between the hulls might have reduced the usual stresses on the main hull. I don’t know the answers, but Tim did say that it sailed nicely.

I’ll send images when I get my project started.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *