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Thread: Building an Outrigger Canoe

  1. #1
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    Default Building an Outrigger Canoe

    Aloha all

    I'm working on a personal project to build a 6-man outrigger canoe for racing. To build the boat I'm looking at wood construction instead of composite materials for ease on the wallet.

    I've strip planked 3 one mane outrigger canoes in the past, 2 were of divinicel foam and backed with 6 oz S glass, while the third was yellow cedar with 6oz S-glass again. I'm looking at doing this canoe as a cold mold instead of strips hoping to make it stronger and lighter.

    My main question that I'm hoping people can shed some light onto is;

    1) Is it possible to build the canoe as a solid "tube". I imagine having the station molds "strung" together with a piece of 2" square metal pipe leaving the nose and the tail to be built separate and added after construction.

    a) Constructing it in this manner would eliminate gluing the deck and hull together, but would be almost impossible to glass the interior of the canoe. Only the areas close to where the paddlers will sit will have glass to protect the wood from higher wear (because that's as far as I can reach inside the decked boat with just the cockpits cut out).

    Materials for the project will be 3 layers of 3mm okoume and sapelle plywood. Calculated weight for the finished canoe is around 200lbs. The lighter the better, but strength is obviously important. We paddle in some pretty extreme conditions and I can't have a boat falling apart on me between Molokai and Oahu in 25ft + seas!

    Curious peoples thoughts on if the solid boat can be built or if I have to do deck and hull separate.

    Thank you

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    I have read in many places that glass on the outside improves abrasion resistance on a hull, while glass on the inside improves impact resistance.

    However, I have built several hollow wooden surfboards, which are essentially strip built as a tube just like your planned canoe, and only glassed on the outside, and they stand up extremely well, much stronger than regular glass surfboards imo... plus your boat will be cold molded so it really doesn't require glassing structurally I think...

    Is this canoe going to be one of those sail/paddle OC canoes or just a paddler? I have seen the videos of sailing/paddling OC's racing between islands in Hawaii and was inspired to start building a plywood outrigger canoe, but only 24 ft and certainly not a racer...

    One question, if you don't mind: do you completely deck over the OC's that go into the ocean? Is decking really necessary, or only in extreme conditions such as the 25' seas you speak of? I'm wondering whether to deck mine for east coast inshore cruising or if that's overkill...

    post pics of your other OC's not too many multihull builders on this forum!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    I can't think of a single advantage to what you propose. Why bother? The Hawaiian Islands have all kinds of outrigger sail and paddle associations that take their boat to the open sea. Obviously you must know about them. To my knowledge none of their boats are built that way.

    Last edited by JimD; 12-06-2010 at 11:04 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    I do have to agree that strip planking is prob the way to go, I was looking into cold molding an outrigger a few months ago and alot of forumites on boatdesign.net thought the bending radii of a narrow canoe may not be great for cold molding

    but, if nobody has done it before, and you think it could work go for it! maybe experiment on a small cross section first just to make sure before you buy all that expensive veneer? The fact that nobody with an internet presence has done it that way doesn't mean it won't work, in fact so few people are out there building wooden OC's that it is no surprise no one has done it yet!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    If you're that concerned about weight, use a lighter core such as Core-cell. You'll need to increase the glass scantlings a bit, but you'll still end up lighter than cold-molded or wood strip.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    we strip planked a racer with corevacil foam 4oz glass and 3.9 carbon fiber. ended up coming in at 188lbs. the only purpose of the glass in my case would be for abrasion. based on my initial calculations the weight would be in that range plus maybe 20 lbs for a cold molded boat.

    not knowing much about cold molding - all my experience has been with strips, it just seems to be a stronger and better made style.

    As far as your homebuilt plywood canoe - you should be fine running around the coast without a deck. We use spray skirts that cover the open deck of our Hawaiian canoes, but the Tahitian style (the style I'm working towards) has individual cockpits to help keep water out in larger seas, plus each seat can be rigged with a spray skirt for more protection.

    i'll psot some pics in a bit for reference

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    Spenny, I'm envious. I'm busy converting a kayak to a sailing tri. Not quite big enough to take to Hawaii though. I want one of these:



    Or at least one of these:

    Last edited by JimD; 12-07-2010 at 07:15 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    But I still don't see how the 'tube' idea would do much for you beyond making the build unnecessarily problematic. I think it will turn out to be one of those brainstorming ideas that ultimately doesn't hold up to close scrutiny.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    I think the question should be, how much of the vaka can be made from a tube? You want a fine entry and a fine exit, so much of the bow and stern aren't going to be tube like. You also want some sheer across the top and some rocker across the bottom, neither of which is possible from a tube. In addition, making the top be half of a tube adds unwanted weight as opposed to the more traditional flat arc. I wouldn't want sections of the interior to be glassed and others not, you could be creating points where the boat could fold in upon itself. You'll get a substantial weight savings by cold molding the hull with an extra layer or two than the deck. There's some interesting deck work done by Hugh Horton and the Gougeon brothers using a layer of kevlar epoxied to the inside of a single layer of veneer, then glassed over.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    Lots of Hawaiian canoes have been built strip style including mine. Cold moulding should be a bit lighter and would only need glass for abrasion resistance not strength. Building the mould for cold moulding is the trick and ultimately why lots of folks go with strip instead of cold moulding--you only need a strongback and stations.

    As for the tube idea, I think you'd not have so much fun epoxying or painting the interior of the hawaiian canoe as a tube since most are less than 21" wide. I'm thinking you are referring to having a decked canoe rather than a true cylinder. Joining the hull and deck is a challenge too, so pick your poison.

    Most of the canoes I've seen are either solid glass, foam or wood core with glass or carbon skins, or stitch and glue. You can cold mould it and join the seam inside and outside or you can try to paint the interior of a very small tube through the deck cockpit openings. Most chose to go with the first option.

    As for the canoe itself, do you have a design? That was the biggest problem for me when I started and Gary Dierking came to the rescue with his Ulua design. It's not a decked design and is "only" up to a 27' canoe.

    Dan

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    I think building the canoe as a solid piece with no separation between the hull and deck is too difficult of a process. Putting the design, rocker, shear etc aside - just supporting a 44 foot long mold from the ends would be a complete nightmare.

    I thought it would be interesting to see a boat built without any seams, but alas there is a reason the conventional methods have survived over time.

    Here's the design of a Tahitian friend of mine
    [IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/syork/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/moz-screenshot.png[/IMG][IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/syork/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/moz-screenshot-1.png[/IMG]http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._2254839_n.jpg

    His is similar to what mine will be (still waiting for a few final details to be worked out). He'll be strip planking with 1/2 stock, it is 230 sq ft overall surface area. Looks like a rocket to me.

    So I'm back to traditional cold molding deck and hull separate, 3 layers of 3mm okoume and mahogany ply. I'm getting samples of different glass, xynole, vectra, s-glass, e-glass, and some other stuff that sounded interesting from defender to do some 12x12 samples, some flex testing etc.

    I appreciate everyone chiming in, I love these forums for bouncing ideas around. I'll create some building profile once everything gets underway!

    and JimD - the sailing canoe races in hawaii are killer, we did Hale o Lono, Molokai to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu in 4 something hours FLYING down through and across the waves, I spent 70% of the time underwater in seat 2 (no one in seat 1 - they'd be underwater 90%!). The other awesome one is the Na Holo Kai from Haleiwa (north shore oahu) to Nawiliwilli Kauai, 90 miles of hauling ass. last year took us 9 hours, brutally flat, this year 7 hours 15 minutes!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    Quote Originally Posted by spenny View Post
    ...JimD - the sailing canoe races in hawaii are killer, we did Hale o Lono, Molokai to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu in 4 something hours FLYING down through and across the waves, I spent 70% of the time underwater in seat 2 (no one in seat 1 - they'd be underwater 90%!). The other awesome one is the Na Holo Kai from Haleiwa (north shore oahu) to Nawiliwilli Kauai, 90 miles of hauling ass. last year took us 9 hours, brutally flat, this year 7 hours 15 minutes!
    Sounds truly amazing. Memories that will never be forgotten. Quick question for you if I may. Do you know if any of these boats, either sail or paddle, book tourist adventure trips? We're going to Oahu for a week in February for our anniversary and there isn't much info online, mostly just the usual booze barge catamarans out of Waikiki for we out-of-towners.
    Last edited by JimD; 12-08-2010 at 12:39 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    sent you a PM Jim

    for others interested its Hawaiian Ocean Adventures

    I'm not associated, I swear!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Building an Outrigger Canoe

    Quote Originally Posted by spenny View Post
    sent you a PM Jim

    for others interested its Hawaiian Ocean Adventures

    I'm not associated, I swear!
    Thanks for the link. This is what I'm after (but not the bride in the white dress - already got one)


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