I’ve been studying the canoe designs in “The Hawaiian Canoe” by Tommy Holmes, as well as the Ulua by Gary Dierking, and the Waka Ama by Selway-Fisher. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Waka Ama is not really a “Hawaiian” design in that the bow and stern are symmetrical: meaning that the canoe can be propelled either way – just depending on which direction you set up the seats. This is a common design in parts of the Pacific – but not in Hawaii. The Ulua is primarily a sailing canoe; in his book “Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes” Gary Dierking even comments “I’m a sailor and I’ll only paddle if I must.” From what I’ve learned/read most Hawaiian style, single hull, outrigger canoes are primarily paddling canoes – that may also be sailed.

With that in mind I’ve done my best to build a 1/4 scale model of the Opelu canoe from “The Hawaiian Canoe” page 69. This model canoe measures 45.5″ and my ‘real’ canoe will be about 16 feet long.

Built a solid wood 1/4 scale model

Cut ‘planks’ to fit canoe shape

Complete set of ‘planks’

Drilled holes in the ‘planks’

Stitched it together

Completed model

Now I just need to scale this up to a 16 ft outrigger canoe!!