KIRIBATI CANOE

           

With the slightest of a breeze
And the greatest of ease
She skims over the shimmering blue
A most remarkable craft
From the fore to the aft
The incredible Kiribati canoe!
Like a frigate bird on a wing
The rigging and sails sing
A melodious song of the deep
About the spirits of the sea
And what has come to be
The incredible Kiribati canoe!
Poem by Grand Dame Dr. Jane Resture, PhD

Kiribati canoes line the shore of
 South Tarawa lagoon, Kiribati,  before the start of a race

Preparing for a Kiribati canoe race

 Animation: 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.

Crayfishing, Kiribati

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.

Three Kiribati canoes above -
(Photos: South Pacific Tourism Organisation)

A Kiribati canoe under sail

Canoes of the Kiribati Islands

The Canoes of Oceania

Oceania Voyaging Canoes

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(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 15th July 2012)

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