The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
All Pacific canoes are designed to balance the forces of the wind and water. The shunting canoe is a good example of a balanced system based on advanced ideas. The hull GLOSSARY hull - the body of a boat , outrigger GLOSSARY outrigger - side float , and sail form a balanced triangle. The outrigger balances the pressure of the wind on the sail. It rides over the waves not through them, so it doesn’t hold the canoe back. The crew moves in relation to where the forces of the wind and the water are acting on the canoe. Everything works together.
1. When the canoe travels with the wind from the side, the sail is nearly in line with the hull. The sail’s centre of effort (the centre of the wind’s force on the sail) is close to the middle of the hull. This way, the canoe is balanced, and so steering is easy. A small pull on the steering paddle or on the ropes that control the sail will guide the canoe [See figure 1].
2. When the canoe moves towards the wind, the force of the wind on the sail moves forward. The hull’s centre of effort (the centre of the forces on it) also has to move forward to keep the canoe balanced. To achieve this, some of the crew move towards the front of the canoe [See figure 2].
3. When the canoe travels with the wind from behind, the opposite needs to happen. The hull’s centre of effort has to move back to keep the canoe balanced, so some of the crew move back. The steering paddle can be put deeper into the water too. The deeper it is, the closer the hull’s centre of effort is to the back [See figure 3].