Why Use an Outrigger

Outriggers are often seen attached to all kinds of watercraft that were not originally designed to be used in this way. Sailing canoes and kayaks are undergoing a revival, and the poor stability of many designs has led some owners to add one or two amas (the floating part of an outrigger) to their craft. Results can be mixed. extra stability comes at the cost of increased weight and complication in setup and rigging. Two or three hulls are more drag than one, and unless the sail plan is enlarged, you may end up going slower. Hulls originally designed to sail without an outrigger are beamier, and this, combined with the additional amp drag, may cause the performance to be disappointing.

key to getting an edge in performance is to have a very narrow main hull as has been used throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans. waterline-length-to-waterline-beam ratio can be as great as 30:1 on large, oceangoing outriggers and double canoes. On the smaller craft with which we are dealing, a 20:1 ratio is about the slimmest practical hull that can still carry the necessary weight. first time I sailed aboard a 20:1 proa with plenty of wind and a good rig, I was elated to feel an almost total lack of resistance when confronted with a wave face or steep chop. That sail was quite unlike anything I had ever experienced. term “proa” originally came from Indonesia. When European explorers first saw the outrigger canoes of the Pacific islands, they called them props because of their previous experience in Indonesia where the double outrigger canoe is common. Today the term is usually applied to canoes that shunt and always keep their amas to windward. There are even “Atlantic proas” that always keep their amas to leeward. Unfortunately, there is no firm definition for “proa” but I will use it in reference to canoes that hunt, and I will use the term “tacking outrigger” for canoes that tack. Throughout this book, you will encounter various mentions and discussions of tacking and shunting.

With the information, I have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the design principles that have made the Pacific and the Indian Ocean outriggers the enduring successes that they are today. difference between ancient and modern outriggers is in the materials that we now have available. Some firm traditionalists insist on duplicating the materials available in ancient times in which you built an oceangoing vessel with logs, coconut fiber, and an adze. This is fine, and the results can be a stunning lesson about all of the things you don’t really need to build a boat. I’ve been a boatbuilder for more than forty years, and in that time I never turned down an opportunity to try some newer, better, or cheaper way to build a boat. I feel that the ancient builders would have been no different and if a roll of carbon fiber and a drum of epoxy fell out of the sky over Tahiti in 892 A. D. , they’d have been happy to use it. As it was, they still laughingly sailed circles around every European ship. designs in this book use both ancient and modern engineering solutions. most obvious structural feature is my prejudice for lashed connections. Using lashings to connect the cross beams to the hull and the ama provides exceptional strength but still allows a small degree of flexibility that reduces the effects of high transient loads experienced by all multihulled craft at sea. While the technique of lashing has been around since the beginning, we now have a full selection of synthetic line to use, from the stretchiest nylon to new fibers that stretch no more than steel cable. For most purposes, I find ordinary polyester/dacron rope to be just right. Canoes that are used only for paddling often use strips of rubber inner tube for lashing. Rubber is a bit too stretchy for the main connections of a sailing canoe, however, where the rig imposes much greater loads.