This album illustrates Hawaiian Voyaging canoe models built over the years by Francis Pimmel. However it does not include the Hokule’a , the most famous voyaging canoe of them all, for which a separate album was created in this gallery.


Ancient Hawaiian voyaging canoes consisted of two identical hulls connected by arched cross booms. The curved booms raised the decking well over water, eliminating wave resistance and affording drier and more comfortable positions for passengers and freight.


Lashed on top of the arched cross booms was a narrow wooden platform (deck) called the “pola”, making it better suited for long distance voyages. Sometimes a small house was built on the deck for added protection. Double-hull voyaging canoes were equipped with a uniquely Hawaiian form of oceanic sprit sail called a “crab claw”. The sail material for the Hawaiian crab claw was most often matting made of finely plaited lauhala leaves, also called pandanus. The mats were overlapped horizontally and sewn up in reverse positions, thus giving the visual impression of matting of two different colors.


The renowned French naval architect Admiral Paris and the Englishman John Webber’s 1778 sketches of “Sandwich Islands” canoes accurately depict the rigging and particular design of the Hawaiian type sail.


In the account of Cook’s third voyages the size of the largest Hawaiian Voyaging canoe, as actually measured, is given as 70-feet long, 12-feet broad and 3.5-feet deep.


It is on record that an old wrecked voyaging canoe on the coast of Hawaii was 108 feet long. Some of these canoes could carry up to 140 men.

With exception of IOSEPA, which was commissioned by the POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER, Lai’e, Oahu, and sold exclusively through the Center, all other models illustrated in this section can be ordered in various sizes from the artist.

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