It happens frequently, when surfing online about canoes, amongst others Hawaiian voyaging, surfing or racing canoes, that I come across websites using the picture of one of my earlier Hokule’a model as an attention getter. 

Some companies or webmasters asked permission to publish that picture on their site, others did not.

This scale model of the Hokule’a is one of my creations and it belongs to a private collection .

I am not aware that it is for sale at any art galleries on the islands of Hawaii.     

Hawaiian Canoes on Flickr

I will never forget this very sunny day of May 13th 1995, en route from Mililani to Honolulu to visit the various Pacific Rim canoes that were meeting on Oahu and mooring on Pier 36, also called The Keehi canoe lagoon.

It was an exciting day as I was very conscious that such a gathering of various type voyaging canoes in one single place may not happen that soon again, maybe for the duration of an entire generation.

I felt that there was a unique occasion to take photos of all those canoes, in particular to take pictures of the construction, lashing and rigging of each one of them so that when the time comes that a next generation or group of people wants to build the same type of canoes, they will not again have to figure out how those vessels were built and assembled. Indeed, some of those proud canoes will end up bowing their prow on a sandy beach and slowly go to waste in the burning sun of the Pacific. All that will be left is some photographic documentation of their construction and ensuing epic voyages across and beyond the Polynesian Triangle.

I remember meeting Ben Finney at the Pier, in my eyes the real hero of that fascinating story called “HOKULE’A”. Ben Finney’s book “Hokule’a, the way to Tahiti” was the inspiration for my very first scale model of the double hulled voyaging canoe. Ben explained to me the origin and signification of the prow ornaments on the Te’Aurere canoe while I was taking pictures of it. Crew members of the Hawai’iloa invited me on deck and let me take pictures and measurements, while others, on the Makali’I took down the mast.

I shot 6 rolls of film negatives that day and when I came home placed them all into a box with the intention to have it developed within a few days. Days became months and month’s years. Some 13 years later I finally had those negatives developed and their photos are now on Flickr for everybody to see and study.

Day four and sail away..

Of course I always feel great satisfaction once I put the last touch on a model, but I am also very critical of my work. Maybe not noticeable to the layman, but I am unhappy with the width of the masts. They are not exactly to scale. Also, some of the rigging is not sufficiently stretched. To much pull on one side and it will hang loose on the other side, so I start to tighten the loose cordage only to loosen up the opposite rigging. The rigging is a real pain on such a small model and it takes hours and a ton of patience to do it. I sometimes wonder how I can do this nitty gritty stuff with my “carpenter” type hands.

Tomorrow the model will be crated, together with its base and showcase, and shipped to Maui.

Day 3

After my third day of working on this model, the deck and the mast steps were placed and I started to mount the railings. When ever it may enhance the beauty of a model, I like to use different type of exotic and indigenous color coordinated species of wood to build my canoes. So for example on this small Hokulea the deck is made out of curly Koa and curly Primavera, Noni for the railings and Macadamia for the big water guard, Tamarind for the manus.

Connecting the hulls

Day 2 of making the small 12″ Hokulea model. Certainly the most tricky and time consuming step in building this small model is connecting the 2 carved hulls with their wimsy small beams at their precise intervalles. Honestly I hate to do it. One would need kids hands, everything is so small and pieces tend to fly away at the slightest interference. But once all this is done, its time to place the gunnels and the hull to hull spreaders. After that its plain sailing so to speak although I still need to assemble or place more than 100 little components to call it Hokulea, and each little individual component needs to be cut, shaped, sanded and lacquered before it can be place on the model.