My friend Dallas spent some time on the Big Island in his younger days and wanted to build an outrigger fishing canoe like the opelu canoes he used to see along the coast there. We spent a couple of months building this together…

In the early to mid 1900’s, with the growing popularity of outboard motors, the Hawaiian opelu canoe design went through some changes. The biggest change was the square transom for mounting the outboard. Usually an opelu canoe would be about 24 ft but we built an 18 ft version

We built a 4-plank canoe (2 for the bottom, and 1 for each side): making the floor out of two planks enabled us to have a “V” bottom.

Here we’ve added the transom and sides. We are gluing in the seats using weights to add pressure.

The canoe has a long slender bow deck

To shape the iako we clamp a curve in it while gluing the laminations together – no need for ‘steam’ bending!

Dallas with his finished canoe in Hanalei River!