Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chamorro and Carolinian Sailing Canoes

Carolinian sailing canoes on Saipan.

The Chamorro "Flying Proa" was named by Magellan in 1520 after making landfall on Guam. These canoes in various sizes up to 47 feet could sail circles around the slower Magellan fleet. Look at Fig 3. plan view and you can clearly see the asymmetrical hull design curved on one side and flat on the other side. This design allowed the canoes to sail quickly and close to the wind direction about (50 degrees) when sailing up wind, something the Europeans didn't figure out until the mid 1920's. The curved hull side with the outrigger was always sailed with the wind on that side. The leeward side part or downwind side of the hull was shaped flat. This gave the hull a "wing " shape with water molecules flowing faster over the curved side causing water separation and providing low pressure. Water molecules flowing slower over the flat downwind side providing high pressure so the canoe was lifted slightly up wind reducing side way drift or leeway. The sail used this same "wing" principle. Got that ? Took me awhile until many years ago a sailing friend said "Remember when you were a kid and you stuck your hand out the window of a moving car and tilted it up and down?" Voila lift! Thank you, Phil Burt my first sailing buddy when we were 14 years of age. The amazing Micronesian navigators, sailors, and canoe carvers figured this out thousands of years ago and travelled on long distance voyages throughout the north central Pacific Ocean.

Sketch by Lt. Peircy Brett 1842.

"Flying Proa" canoe on Ypao Beach, Guam.

Satawal and Guam canoe carvers working on a small canoe.

Working with the traditional adz.

A traditional adz used to carve the canoe and outrigger. Originally clam shells were used as a cutting edge prior to the introduction of iron tools after 1520.

Modern canoe carving tools next to traditional tools. Gotta have that betel nut and tobacco to keep the energy level up and the cell phone to call for refreshments. Thin wood chips indicate a power plane shaper was in use.

Traditional man and non traditional carving tools. Guam October 2011.

A small sailing canoe used inside the lagoon has a asymmetrical hull design too.

Flying Proa constructed of modern materials. Thin strip planking and epoxy make these Tasi 20 boats light and fast.

Example of traditional linear sewing on pieces of breadfruit tree wood used in construction of large Carolinian sailing canoes. Breadfruit tree sap was used as a waterproof seal. Saipan 1996.

Smaller Carolinian canoe launched on Saipan.

Modern construction techniques used by the students on a Tasi 20. These 20 foot long canoes are being constructed to encourage local indigenous groups to retain the "Taotao Tasi" (People of the Sea) traditional Chamorro fishing techniques.

Sailing canoe Alingano Maisu dockside in Malakal harbor Palau. This is a Polynesian double hull design constructed of strip plank and epoxy built in Hawaii. The lines for the Alingano Maisu and Makali'i were taken from drawings by Capt Cook in the 1770's. Both designs have no asymmetrical hulls similar to the Chamorro and Carolinian canoes. These two designs were not as efficient sailing upwind as the Micronesian canoes. All reports indicate the Marshalese, Chamorros, and Carolinians were the only long distant canoe voyagers that carved asymmetrical hulls.

Polynesian twin hull canoe Makali'i from Hawaii docked in Saipan. May 1999.

A cool biodegradable sailing hat to keep the sun off your head. Palm Frond Products Co. established 3002 BC.

Those incredibly brave voyagers sailed from Satawal to Saipan in 5 days.

Coconut fiber rope versus modern Dacron rope.

A sturdy outrigger or "aka" on a Satawal open ocean voyaging canoe.

Enjoying new technology on a Hobie Cat 16 (twin asymmetrical hulls of course). Lino Olapai. Saipan.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the class in hydrodynamics.You made it sound so simple.

Seán said...

The second image titled:
Carolinian sailing canoes on Saipan.
are actually good examples of typical Marshalls design:

waterworks said...

Tell that to the Carolinians from Puluwat and Satawal Atoll that carved them!