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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Capt. Martin's Tahitian Dugouts

While stationed in Tahiti in 1846-47, Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN, made several sketches and paintings of local watercraft. Here are all of the dugout canoes which show any useful detail as reproduced in his journal. (See the previous post for a more background and Martin's illustration of a double canoe from Tuomoto.)


Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
The dugout canoe in this family portrait appears to have no outrigger, but it does have an interesting bowsprit-like platform, apparently curved from the same log as the hull. The sheer is very flat. (Click any image to enlarge.)
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
Line fishing from an outrigger paddled canoe. The sheer is quite flat, except for a bit of rise at the bow. The bow itself rises out of the water. The outrigger booms are strongly curved, unlike the booms in most of the images below.
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
A lovely beach scene with Tahitians fishing with a seine and a canoe pulled up on the shore.
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
Detail of the above painting, magnified as much as resolution allows.
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
The forward boom of this outrigger canoe is connected to the outrigger float by struts, while the after boom curves downward to connect to the float directly. The extension of the bow appears to be an addition, not carved from the trunk of the hull.
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
Another scene in which seine fishing from shore is aided by canoes to bring the net out. Because of the man standing in the water, it's hard to tell if the "bowsprit" belongs to the boat in the foreground or the one behind it. The quadrilateral sail is supported by a mast, boom, and sprit. As in the previous image, the sterns are upturned sharply. 
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
Detail of the previous image. The bowsprit seems quite thin, and it has no supporting rigging, but is apparently strong enough to support the child's weight without sagging. 
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
This quicker, looser watercolor sketch shows the same features as the previous few images (upturned stern, plumb bow, "bowsprit," quadrilateral sail with three spars, and outrigger float connected directly to the boom in the rear, and with struts in the front), but adds another detail: multiple shrouds supporting the mast. All of them attach at the same point on the mast. To port, the lower ends attach to the forward outrigger boom at regular intervals. To starboard, they attach to a boom that serves both as an attachment point for the shrouds, and for hiking out (as seen in the next image).
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
The top boat in this image is very similar to the previous image and may be just a slightly refined version, except that a crewman is clearly seen hiking out on the starboard boom. The arrangement of struts connecting the float to the forward port boom is clear: four struts in two pairs of inverted V's. The bottom boat seems to have elements of Western boat design.
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
The hulls of the canoes in the background are similar to the preceding ones, but the sailing rig hoists a squaresail: this was probably an adoption of a Western type.
Tahitian dugout canoe by Capt. Henry Byam Martin, RN
A paddled dugout canoe with a nicely carved cutwater and fine shaping and finishing all over the hull. Its shape is rather different from the paddled dugout shown at the top of this post. The paddle has a teardrop-shaped blade and no end-grip on the shaft. 
Images from: The Polynesian Journal of Captain Henry Byam Martin, R.N. In command of H.M.S. Grampus -- 50 guns, at Hawaii and on station in Tahiti and the Society Islands, 1846-1847.

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