Unique Ninigo out­rig­ger ca­noes

Yachting Monthly - - ADVENTURE -

The ca­noes are carved from drift­wood – whole trees that wash up on the beaches. Ca­noe builders are al­ways on the look­out for the best wood and a log is claimed by the first per­son to see it by carv­ing one's name onto it.

The em­pha­sis is on mak­ing the ca­noes as light as pos­si­ble. Hand­made wooden nails (dow­els) are still used; the out­rig­gers them­selves are beau­ti­fully carved by hand, many made just for rac­ing.

The big­gest weight is­sue is wa­ter flood­ing over the low free­board. Spray coam­ings help, as does deck­ing the ca­noes, but they also use an 'en­gi­neer'. This is a young boy whose job it is to bail the ca­noe as fast as he can, and it’s a job done with pride.

Sails, tra­di­tion­ally made from wo­ven pan­danus leaves, are now made from plas­tic tar­pau­lin. The ca­noes use an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent sized sails for dif­fer­ing wind con­di­tions. Sails are trea­sured and the newer tar­pau­lins are saved for the race and only used for fam­ily com­mut­ing later. Here a tree pro­vides the sail loft, with sev­eral rolled up sails sit­ting in the branches. Uniquely, sails are shared be­tween friends and dif­fer­ent boats.

The is­lan­ders use their out­rig­ger sail­ing ca­noes pri­mar­ily to com­mute be­tween the is­lands and to fish. En­tire fam­i­lies sit in the ca­noes cruis­ing along, usu­ally trolling a fish­ing line.

Crews trained hard for the rac­ing, prac­tis­ing fly­ing the out­rig­ger for max­i­mum speed

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