Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ailuk Traditional Sailing Canoes

Ailuk is famous for its handicrafts and its sailing canoes.  Almost all of the transport is still by these sailing canoes whether to go fishing, to gather copra or to visit between the two villages.  The sailing canoes are made on the island and relieve them from the cost and burden of stocking gasoline and engine parts.  The atoll's long axis is close to perpendicular to the prevailing trade winds so the canoes can generally close reach across the length of the atoll.  They are fast and carry a substantial load but to tack the rudder and mast needs to be shipped to the opposite side - i.e. the bow becomes the stern.

We enjoyed riding in the canoes whether as a whole family along with a bunch of other people and supplies for a pretty heavily loaded canoe or, even better, when I went off spearfishing with three local guys in a canoe. In the later case we were able to fly a hull which is pretty interesting when you are the ballast sitting out on the ama.

Liz has written about traveling to a picnic on the canoes here.

Heading back from a day of copra harvesting

Heading to a picnic

Heading out

Full load.

The gentlemen in the background is steering with the tiller.  The rudder/tiller swaps ends when you tack.


This is looking athwartships towards the ama.  With lighter loads or with more wind you can sit out there with the ama out of the water.

Canoe at anchor.  The anchors are usually a big stone with line around it similar to a traditional killick

A regular sight as the fleet commutes home after a day of copra work.

A regular sight as the fleet commutes home after a day of copra work.

A regular sight as the fleet commutes home after a day of copra work (SV Runaway photo)

The kids have nice model sailing canoes they play with in the lagoon

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