Francis Pimmel's love of boats and ships began while watching the colorful freight barges sailing along French canals. As a young boy he marveled at the decorated steering houses of each barge, and wondered how her skipper could possibly load his 2 CV car on top of the hatchways and keep his pet dog, cats or bird aboard. At 14 he bought his first book about canoe building and built his first life-size canoe with the help of his brother. Many more books followed, ranging from boat building to woodworking, another of his passions. Many years later, when moving to Hawaii with his family in 1991, Pimmel read "Hokule'a, The Way to Tahiti" by Ben R. Finney.
Since reading the story of that most audacious and little-reported voyage covering 6000 miles in a reconstructed Polynesian canoe, Pimmel's collection of rare and fine books, special subjects, studies and pamphlets on specialized aspects of Polynesian seafaring, Pacific navigators and canoe building has grown considerably.
Without doubt, a great classic of the maritime ethnography of Oceania "Canoes of Oceania" by Haddon & Hornell for its depth of research. No library would be complete without "Atlas des Violiers et Pirogues du Monde" from Admiral Paris (1843) and the now rare volumes I and II of "Pirogues Oceaniennes" by Jean Neyret, containing the line drawings and descriptions of literally thousands of Oceanic canoes covering the Pacific from Hawaii to Sumatra and from Java to Easter Island and even as far afield as Madagascar. Edward Dodd's writings about Polynesian seafaring as well as those by David Lewis contain a wealth of information for the further understanding of the wonders and secrets of Polynesia and their Pacific island Navigators. Tommy Holmes' book "The Hawaiian Canoe" is outstanding in that it treats the subject of Hawaiian canoes in great depth but with great readability. And last but not least worth noting is "Voyagers", a collection of words and images by Herb Kawainui Kane.
In addition to books relating to canoe building and Pacific seafaring and navigators, Pimmel's shelves are stacked high with books about boat design and architecture, ship modeling, rigging and sailing. His library serves an educational function, to provide understanding of the culture of the people of the Pacific, and, in particular, their maritime culture and their canoe building skills and traditions. Reading these books has helped Pimmel become aware that a multitude of canoes of different size, shape and form were built in every tiny corner of the Pacific islands, and how sometimes the construction of a given type of canoe evolved from one neighboring island to another; or how Pacific migrations influenced the shape of a type of canoe 1000 miles away (for example, the surprising similarities between the Solomon islands war canoes and some types of Filipino vessels with elevated bow and stern). Similarly, years of studying the canoes of Oceania and having assisted in the construction of some of them along the Sulu Sea, have contributed to Pimmel's knowledge of the construction of these canoes; knowledge that he makes use of in his scale models not just from Polynesia, but also other parts of the Pacific rim.