Reprinted by Permission of: Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i
An entirely different type of outrigger characterizes the canoes of Kapingamarangi, a low atoll of 28 islets in latitude 1 degree 4 minutes N., longitude154 degrees 45 minutes E., lying roughly midway between the central Carolines and northern Melanesia. As in Nukuoro, the language of the people is essentially Polynesian.
A fine specimen of the paddling canoe of the island brought home by Hambruch* is deposited in the Hamburg Museum fur Volkerkunde and it is from this that the present description is written (fig. 288).
The hull which measures 4.33 meters over all, is a typical five-part canoe, formed of a dugout underbody fitted with stout, slightly upturned end pieces, winged at each side to make connection with a washstrake on each side. The whole hull is painted red, ornamented with large, roughly daubed white St. Andrew's crosses in longitudinal series; one row occupies the whole length and width of the washstrake and two others are painted fore and aft upon the underbody. The sides and upper surface of the end pieces are similarly ornamented.
The underbody is equal-ended, the bottom straight in the long median region, rounding up in a sweeping curve at each end to meet the end piece, but with the curve broken near the upper end by a deep return angle which forms a prominent "heel" at this point. Transversely, the bottom slopes sharply upward from a median keel ridge into vertical sides, the bilges high and weakly developed.
The end pieces are dissimilar, that which I take to be the head the higher and more massive. Each is scarfed to an end of the underbody by a lock joint. The heavy basal part of the head piece is partially hollowed out; anteriorly it rises into a short and stout figurehead, rectangular in section and horizontally truncate. Posteriorly a wing is given off on each side in the manner of the headboard of Society Islands canoes and for the same purpose.
The stern piece is on the same model but with the upturned end smaller and nearly vertical.
Filling in the space on each side between the winged extremities of the two end pieces is the nearly vertical washstrake, surmounted by a narrow, rounded gunwale rail. All parts are sewn together in the ordinary unconcealed method.
The gunwale rails are continued outboard at the stern to a point level with the after end of the stern piece, to which they ate connected by a transverse stiffening brace consisting of a bow-shaped withy. Anteriorly they are joined together by a short thwart bar lashed over their fore ends.
The hull is crossed, in addition by three outrigger booms, for false booms, and six thwart bars. All pass through the upper part of the washstrake, the booms let into its edges, the thwarts passing right through at a slightly lower level. The thwart ends project about 2 inches outboard. The main and the false booms are spaced apart at regular intervals, each immediately to the fore side of one of the thwart bars except the last false boom which is on the fore side of the stern piece. Two of the false booms are fitted between the outrigger frame and the head of the canoe, the other two aft of the outrigger. They project outboard on the outrigger side about 2 feet, their outer ends slightly upcurved; over them, 12 to 15 inches from the side of the canoe, is lashed a long stringer pole.
The outrigger, fitted on the left side, is one of considerable complexity. The three strong booms which are its main support are each attached to the float by two pairs of long and slender stanchions. These are inserted into the upper surface of a short, stout float, flattened above, rounded below, and pointed sharply at each end. As the booms slant somewhat upward in their outboard length, the stanchions are more than usually long for the size of the hull. Their upper ends are lashed against the sides of the boom and cut off immediately above. The units of the outer pairs converge upward to meet the boom in plane nearly vertical to the long axis of the float; those of the inner pairs converge obliquely, their upper ends inclined toward the hull. Four suspensory braces stiffen the attachment of the float. Their upper ends pass around a stout stringer lashed athwart the booms midway between the outer and inner stanchion attachments, the lower through V-shaped perforations in the upper surface of the float. In their preparation, after sufficient turns have been made, these are seized throughout their length with the free end of the lashing. One brace is fitted at each end of the float. Of the other two, one is placed midway between the middle and the outer boom on each side.
The outrigger frame is further stiffened by a platform of light poles laid thwart the booms outside the long stringer lashed over the false booms and by a stout, curved strut at each end of the outrigger frame, lashed at its inner extremity to the base of one of the outer suspensory braces close to the end of the float.
Knowing that the language of the island is Polynesian, it occasions no surprise to find that the canoe type has no close resemblance either to the ordinary types of the Carolines or to those of Melanesia. Curiously enough, the type is also different from that of Nukuoro except remotely in the presence of a forefoot "heel" and of a long stringer boomed out from the gunwale, although this island is also inhabited by people of Polynesian area.
Only in the Tokelau Islands much farther east are found canoes with outriggers of a closely related design. The outriggers of both areas have paired connectives of the same type, reinforced by single accessory pieces running between float and boom stringer-slender stanchions in the Tokelau canoe, suspensory braces in that of Kapingamarangi. The canoe form is, however, quite different.
Nothing is known of the sailing canoes which may have been possessed in former times by the people of Kapingamarangi.
* Hambruch, Paul,Nauru: Ergebnisse der Sudsee-Expedition, 1908-10, IIEthnographie, B, Mikronesien, vol. 1, Hamburg, 1914-15