Grassroots Kaua’i: manufacturing an outrigger canoe

A handmade koa canoe, believed to be the first constructed on Kaua’i in nearly two centuries, has set sail after a fervent four months of labor by a group of native Hawaiians and some expert canoe builders from Ifilik, an atoll in Micronesia.

The idea came from Santos Wichimai of Anahola, an expert canoe builder who missed his home island of Ifilik and wanted to share its culture with Kauaians.

Three men from the Micronesian atoll came to Kauai to work on the project, and once a full group was assembled, they passed up power tools, constructing handmade adzes to remove the bark and gouge away at the wood. Following ancient Polynesian practice, they used their fingers, hands, arms, feet and legs for measurement. String made from coconut husks helped hold the craft together.

And after months of six-days-a-week work, the job was done, and the 16-foot-long outrigger canoe was launched at Hanalei Bay.

It’s the first handmade koa canoe built here since the death of King Kaumuali’i in 1824 and thanks to Rachel Pa we had the honor to take a ride with.

The canoe being built in this short documentary is the second one and it won’t be the last…

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