South Tarawa lagoon, Kiribati, before the start
of a race
Preparing for a Kiribati
Kiribati canoes go through their paces
The Kiribati canoe is claimed to be the
fastest in the Pacific. The asymmetric hull is
heeled to raise the outrigger slightly
above the water
Closing in on the fish - how the
professionals do it!
At high tide on the ocean beach,
fishermen boldly launch their flimsy
canoes - they brave the
open sea without any thought of danger
Tabiteuea locals sail a swift 96
feet, three mastered outrigger canoe. Its width is five and a half feet,
freeboard five feet, and draft three feet. The outrigger is a single log about
49 feet long and 2 feet in diameter lashed to the hull amidships by thirteen 20
foot pieces forming a scaffold. The masts are 40 feet high. Since the deck is
only half covered, it is possible to "go below" at any point. A red flag floats
from each masthead. Like the smaller craft, it is constructed without metal, all
parts being tied together with coconut fibre.
From the outrigger, the huge steering oar
looks small. However, for the lads who clamber out on the
framework to keep the speeding craft on an
even keel clear vision of the steersman is vital.
An unexpected puff or flaw could easily
fling them overboard.
Kiribati people in canoes swarm about a
visiting schooner. When not in use, the woven mat sails
are rolled neatly on the outriggers, for
there is no room for them in the slender hulls.
Kiribati fishermen occasionally find
pearls in oysters taken
from the lagoons
A Kiribati canoe on the edge of the
lagoon at Marakei Island, Kiribati
Kiribati canoe at Norauea village, Marakei.
Marakei is a good example of an atoll almost
totally enclosing its lagoon.