Ideas welcome – beginning the redesign / rebuild of AL DEMANY CHIMAN’s ama

AL DEMANY CHIMANs ama in my shopAs I have noted before, one of the biggest issues I have found with the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN is that the ama isn’t working out. The shape is a bit off and it ships too much water. Having completed a number of smaller maintenance items since calling an end to the season, I have begin the winter’s major project: redesigning and rebuilding the ama.

My first step was last night. I unscrewed the “sheer clamps” and the pulled off the skin. What I found was a bit distressing, if not wholly unexpected: there has been water trapped beneath the skin and the frame doing what water will do. Moisture in frame of AL DEMANY CHIMANs ama You can see that dark area where the oil I put on the bow piece didn’t help (or wasn’t enough). The part above that was quite wet, and that is from rain somehow getting in (or, forbid, leftover from a month ago – shudder). The line where the skin met the bow piece is distressingly evident, though this is more mildew. The bigger issue here is that the two planks that make up that piece have separated (note the slight hitch in the “sheerline”). The after end is better off, but has a few issues of it’s own. Bow of AL DEMANY CHIMANs ama without skin

So this leaves me with the question of how to proceed from here, as I have to approach this project with an additional variable. Factors I am thinking about are:

  • I need to reconstruct the ama so that it does not ship water
  • I want to preserve the skin-on-frame look as much as possible
  • It is unlikely that, with the skin-on-frame medium, I can keep all water out
  • If I make the ama a good deal more watertight, but not 100% so, I’ll end up with more of the issues noted above
  • A new ama that is fully watertight and water-protected may not go as well with the rest of the boat

A bit of a quandary, eh? My current thinking is to unlash the frame, coat every inside surface with the same two-part polyurethane that coats the skin, partially relash, add foam to fill the inside, and reskin the ama. My guess is that this approach leaves some vulnerability to water damage, but hopefully holds it off a good bit. Any other ideas or approaches you all would recommend? Please comment below. Many thanks,

8 Comments for “Ideas welcome – beginning the redesign / rebuild of AL DEMANY CHIMAN’s ama”

Gary Dierking


Ahaa, now we know why the Inuits didn’t use amas.
I would get a block of polystyrene foam, shape it with the chines just like your SOF one, glass it and paint to match the big hull.
Don’t be tempted to use any two part foam injected inside your existing skin. It’s a serious rot promoter and your ama will get a little heavier each year.


Thanks, Gary. I wasn’t actually thinking of injecting any foam product. I was thinking of shaping polystyrene inside the frame. It is more complicated that your approach but feels better.

David Cockey


Add an access port or two and open them for ventilation when not using the boat. That will allow the inside of the ama to dry out. Also let you check on how much water is leaking in.

Len Linkus


Adding hatches is a good idea.

Another Idea is to have the top of the fabric be open and fold over like a dry bag (I have seen sof kayaks made like this – check out This allows the skin to be opened up when you are done.

Another idea is to use a breathable material such as tyvek on the topside.

Tim Anderson has some valid comments when he constructed his sof outrigger on the instructables website. I believe if you totally seal the wood it can create problems with rot (sealed areas that rub away) since it does not dry all the way.

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