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Unbelievably amazing traditional boat resource from Italy

Big hat-tip here to our friend Carl Cramer, publisher of Wooden Boat and author of its My Wooden Boat of the Week blog – his entry today, drawings of Indonesian outrigger canoes, was great in-and-of itself. Carl was, though, good enough to provide the source site, a resource from Italy which can be roughly (per Google) translated as “Pages dedicated to the Navy and Merchant Navy and seafaring ethnic and historical.” It isn’t clear to me who is behind this site, but – my word! – what a treasure the site owners have amassed!

The site groups sets of resources – I take it many are drawings, but I haven’t browsed very deeply – in sensible clusters that revolve around time period and location. We were drawn to the second section, “Etnografia: i natanti nel mondo,” which we can tell you, senza Google, is “Boats of the World.” We literally don’t know what to show you as a sample – there are so many cool boats to point out. There are drawing sets for every corner of the planet, as far as we can tell, and there are many per set. The set from Indochina Carl references has 299 – 299! – drawings, mostly from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Try these, for starters:

Indonesian outrigger canoe wiht Indonesian boat Sailing ship form Sumatra Vietnamese boat from Saigon

And that is just one region! There are 325 from Africa, including some amazing lateen craft from the northern and eastern sides of the continent:

Egyptian lateen craft Small Somali sailing vessel Sailing outrigger from Mozambique Long canoe of the Niger

I could go on, e.g., this set of 494 from mainland East Asia. Did we say this collection is mindblowing? ’cause it’s mindblowing. Check out the site and the full-sized images. It is fantastic.

Fun chance meeting with photographer Ellen Tynan

Last weekend we were out for a hikelet along the Potomac river and happened upon a woman enjoying the view of the marsh. We got talking and she mentioned, in particular, my Wooden Boat hat. She then revealed that she was a photographer who specialized in classic and traditional boats, and she noted she had been published in the magazine. Her name is Ellen Tynan and, on review, I am sure I have seen her work (also on Flickr).

She is hoping to publish a book in the not-too-distant future: “Boat Lines.” It will compile her photos of traditional boats from six regions of the world: Maori New Zealand, Ireland, Alaska and British Columbia, Peru, Indonesia, and Egypt. Good sampling, there, eh?

I’d suggest browsing through her work and getting a sneak peak at what might be in the book. A quick selection of works that jumped out at us, here at Chine bLog, includes (will open in new tabs/windows):

There are many more great ones. It would be well worth your time to browse them all on your own. Keep an eye out for this great sounding book.

Iteration on the leeboard bracket for AL DEMANY CHIMAN

The leeboard bracket is giving us a tough lesson in the physics of lateral resistance. My first attempts showed flaws in the bracket to clip the board to the single side gunnel. The second attempt, from late summer, is below. I followed the published models and build a bracket that clips to both gunnels.




This system worked well enough at keeping the bracket in place, but I still had the end that meets the leeboard all wrong. I realized two things. First, the bolt was too thin – at 1/4″ it was being bent by the leeboard’s upward, outboard pressure on port tack and upward, inboard pressure on starboard tack. Second, the “face plate” provided too little bearing surface for the board (and the bolt on the outside was too small as well). There wasn’t enough to keep the board clamped in place.

In the Fall, then, I enlarged the “face plate” and made a much bigger knob to clamp in the leeboard itself. The worked much better, but the “face plate” still came apart. In the face of these forces, then, I have now buckled a bit and, how shall we say it… screwed the snot out of it. I am still resisting loads of fiberglass cloth and big metal L joints, but there is more epoxy and bronze than before. I am hoping this will be enough. I find the bracket rather graceful as it is now (scrap white oak FTW!), and don’t want to have to revert to something clunky and ungainly. Physics may overpower, though.



Under sail again! Further tuning the sailing rig on AL DEMANY CHIMAN

It took longer than I had hoped to rebuild the lateen yard so that I could get my skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN under sail again. Recently, though, I finally completed that task and yesterday morning life and the weather gave me an opening to get “the sail canoe” under sail for the second time.


Truthfully, the weather could have helped a bit more – the wind was fairly light and flukey. This said, I did have a nice little sail and made some progress towards having the sailing rig fully tuned and “done.” The new yard did well and the reworked main sheet arrangement was much better. I think I also have identified the right spot on the yard for the halyard.

Left to do is to do some thinking on the leeboard. The boat definitely wants the lateral resistance to go upwind well, but there are two issues. First, the bracket I designed to clip the board to the gunnel just isn’t working. On port tack it was just about pulling up and over the rub rail. I think I am going to need to use a bracket the crosses the hull and clips under the inwale on both sides; this is the more common arrangement I have seen in Gary Dierkingand Todd Bradshaw‘s books.

The other problem is that the board will still not reliably stay down, even after I added leather washers. Not sure what my next step is on this one.

I’ll also be playing with the steer oar to try to improve it. Steering will be something I’ll be playing with further, I suspect.

Update on the rebuilding of the ama for my canoe, AL DEMANY CHIMAN

It seemed a good time to update you all on the status of our various winter projects on the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe, A DEMANY CHIMAN. When we last checked in, I was trying to figure out how to approach the redesign of the ama, especially with respect to the problem of it shipping lots of water. I have pursued the initial approach (despite good advice to the contrary) and am some way along.

To review, I took the ama completely apart and gave everything a good sanding. I had found the bow piece in suspect shape, so I just rebuilt it. I then coated everything with the same polyurethane that coats the skin and lashed it all back together, but for the stringers. I then got some polystyrene and built blocks matching the dimensions of the four sections of the ama (including the stringers in the width) and then split those down the middle lengthwise. I filed / sanded them to shape so that they fit snugly and had the appropriate sectional shape. I am now 3/4 through the final step, which is carving out a channel for the stringers. Below is the starboard side, with one stringer just laid in.


Now I have to do the port side. I’ll paint them all so they aren’t that horrid pink (yes, in its regular life, this foam would be insulating some house).


A couple thoughts are in order. First, working with foam has been a highly unpleasant process. The mess is horrendous and shaping it does not have the same satisfying feeling wood gives. The stuff is obviously soft enough that it is easy to ding up and it snags much more easily than it seems it should. On the other hand, I think it will meet my objectives pretty well. By coating the pieces in polyurethane, waiting for a full set, and then lashing them, they behave like skin-on-frame construction should, but are protected form the inevitable water (yes, there may be wear and, over time, places water will get to the wood, but that will be down the line a decent bit). The stringers will show through and give the appearance they had, maintaining the same look. Finally, the water will mostly stay out, leaving me confident the ama will remain buoyant in a longer, choppy crossing. Perfect? No, but I think this will get me where I wanted to, even if the journey has been a pain.

Pacific Voyagers keep on voyaging, thank goodness!

Coming across the “wires” a couple months ago was news from the Dana Point (CA) Times that crews of Polynesians are still sailing traditional vakas – voyaging canoes – across the Pacfic using traditonal techniques. This was particularly interesting to me as a recently read Sailing in the Wake of the Ancestors: Reviving Polynesian Voyaging (Legacy of Excellence), by Ben R. Finney, a book detailing his close involvement with the early iterations of this movement. In short, a few groups of Polynesians connected with each otherseveral years ago and decided to build versions of their traditional voyaging canoes and sail together around Polynesia using traditional navigation (i.e., by stars, birds, weather patterns, etc.) It is a pretty interesting read, especially since Finney sailed with esteemed Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug.

Even more interesting to note is that there is a movie coming out about the effort, “Our Blue Canoe.” The article above included the trailer, courtesy of YouTube:

Good stuff here. Look out for the film and check out the book.

Douglas Brooks’s effort to save traditional Japanese boatbuilding


For some time I have known of Douglas Brooks, a Vermont boatbuilder who became fascinated with traditional Japanese boats several years ago and has since traveled there a few times to study and document traditional boats and construction methods. There was a nice piece about him recently in the Japan Times Online that focused particularly on Brooks’s efforts on Okinawa to find a surviving traditional builder of native sabani, a local sailing canoe. The article links to a resource site with more about sabani, which look extremely interesting and capture, I believe, faint elements of the traditional craft to their south. The image above comes from that site.

Sailing rig details for the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN

AL DEMANY CHIMAN, fully rigged

As I work away on refinements to the sailing rig for my skin-on-frame outrigger sailing canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN, I wanted to show off a few more details of the rig as it is. I posted a variant of this view before, but I think this is a better picture. It gives a sense of the overall layout and the different rig elements.

Here is the steer oar and its chalk. This set-up worked reasonably well, though I might eventually want to put some weight on blade end.


This view shows the hiking plank and mainsheet leads.

AL DEMANY CHIMAN sailing rig

Finally, some detail on the finished blocks, which I hand made from paduak.

Hand-made block for AL DEMANY CHIMAN

I can’t wait to get her going again next season.

2011 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival – the complete pictures

I wanted to get these pictures of the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival up right away; I’ll be adding captions soon.

[UPDATE] Captions are now on there. I encourage you to browse through. There were some AMAZING AMAZING boats there. I’d highlight the sailing canoe SEVEN STARS, the Melonseeds, the sailing canoe in pictures 4 and 31, and, of course, the Coquina.

Skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN fully rigged


She’s all ready for show…