Ancient Canoe Videos
These aren’t really videos of ancient canoes from a thousand years ago; they are modern videos of canoes that are built just as they were a thousand years ago.
Anciently, Polynesian fishermen went to sea in wooden sailing canoes; they were expert navigators and fishermen, and the people on land depended on them to bring the bounty of the ocean back to the shore. But from a modern viewpoint, these canoes had their drawbacks; although built by the world’s foremost seafaring people, they were constructed using Stone Age technology.
They were hewn from solid logs, with additional planks added with lashings and breadfruit sap sealant to keep the water out. They had sails of woven pandanus matting rather than canvas or dacron; and ropes of coconut twine rather than nylon.
A Traditional Proa Practicing The Shunt
This is a proa from the Marianas Islands, practicing the shunt in Tumon Bay.
A Small Traditional Marshallese Proa
This is a small proa from the Marshall Islands, doing a fast leg inside the lagoon. The crew are saying: “Ewōr ke aṃ jaat in Ṃajōḷ in?” (Do you have a chart of the Marshall Islands).
The Tepuke, A Taumako Island Proa
This is a proa from the Taumako Islands, and is part of the Vaka Taumako Project; a project for raising awareness of traditional voyaging canoes from the Solomon Islands.
A Traditional Marshallese Proa
This is a proa from the Marshall Islands, with discussion of the renewal of interest in proas among the Pacific Island peoples.
The Baurua Taratai, A Traditional Proa
Named after a village in Tarawa, Kiribati (ex Gilbert Islands), the 60-foot long Taratai was built the traditional way, without using a single nail. The planks are secured with coconut rope, and sealed against seawater with breadfruit sap. It sailed against the prevailing winds 2700 kilometers to Fiji, proving Thor Heyerdahl wrong.
This sailing video was made in 1965; aficionados will note the presence of David Lewis on board the Taratai. David is the author of “East Is A Big Bird”, the first Western book to accurately describe and document Micronesian proa construction, sailing, and navigation technology. It can be admired today in the New Zealand Maritime Museum.
One visitor to the Museum, an experienced blue water sailor, said, after seeing the Taratai: “There’s a 60′ Gilbertese proa here in Auckland at the maritime museum now and it would be hard to conceive of a more ruthlessly functional sailing machine. The humbling part is that they had no metal to put in the canoe or to use for tools.”
Proas are faster than most motorboats but don’t use any gas; they don’t pound in a choppy sea, and the motion is far, far less than that of a motorboat at the same speed. This translates into less crew fatigue and more energy for fishing when you get to the fishing grounds; and a better-rested crew when they hit the dock back at their home port to unload fish.
We feel the world is not only ready for, but also in desperate need of this energy-efficient sailing technology for fishing boats. Click on the blue text below to find out more about our “Splash” project: