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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sailing Canoes of Granada

Still further south from the gommiers of Dominica and Martinique and the canot of St. Lucia is another expanded and extended dugout, the sailing canoe of Granada. When Douglas C. Pyle visited the island in 1975, "a handful" were still in use. It would be a surprise, though a pleasant one, if any still exist 35 years later.

The Granada sailing canoe had something in the looks of a whaleboat.
(This and all other images from Pyle, Clean Sweet Wind. Click any image to enlarge.)

The dugout origins are just discernible in the small hollowed keel, to which three wide strakes have been added, followed by rough, widely-spaced frames and partial frames.


The waterlines and buttocks are very nice, but the sections look scary. The sailplan looks fairly powerful for such an unstable hull, but it's wisely kept low.
Pyle writes in Clean Sweet Wind:

The lines show very clearly that no effort was made to give the hull any shape other than that assumed by a hollowed log wedged slightly open at midsection. They were propelled by sailing and rowing simultaneously, a practical mix in the flat water and fluky breezes that prevail in the lee of all high islands such as Granada.
In spite of Pyle's criticism of their unsophisticated lines, he says the canoes were "versatile...capable also of operating in the open sea," and he describes a regatta in nearby Carriacou where the boats seemed to perform adequately, though hampered by their blue denim sails.

In any case, I find the buttocks, waterlines, and sheer profile pleasing. The sections, however, are another matter. Where the bottom of the canot was just slightly flattened, and the gommier almost perfectly round amidships, the Granada canoe's bottom is nearly a rounded V. Lightly laden, this boat would have little initial stability, though I think she would firm up when heeled down onto her wide flared sides.

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