It's time to build the ama for our outrigger canoe.
My friend Roland Chen has a lot of local knowledge. He suggested using an Agave (pronounced "Ah-gah-vey") stalk. They are big and light. You can collect them by the side of the road here on Maui. I've also seen them in abundance in Mexico, Kenya and other places.
Chapter 1: Make the Deck, Keel, and Cockpits.
Chapter 2: Make Ribs
Chapter 3: Lash the Frame
Chapter 5: Hull Frame Finishing
Chapter 6: Morton's Oar
Chapter 7: Sew a Skin over the Hull Skeleton and Seal it.
Chapter 8: Keel and Rub Strips
Chapter 9: Dipaakak
Chapter 10: Independent Suspension
Chapter X: Maiden Voyage
Please support the WAM canoe project as they preserve and foster canoe knowledge in the Marshall Islands.
Step 1: Find an Agave Stalk
In Mexico they call it "Hennequen" and cultivate it for the fibers in the leaves. High wages in Mexico have made the business unprofitable there. The plants I saw there were gigantic and untended. In Kenya I saw new fields being planted and leaves being harvested from existing ones. I watched the big machine in the factory beat the fibers from the leaves while a river of juice flowed out underneath. Agave juice and syrup are being sold as a health food in the U.S. now. You can get a million gallons of it for free in Kenya.
An agave plant lives many years. When it's had enough of life it puts up a tall stalk up to 30 feet high, produces flowers and seeds and dies. The stalk has a thin outer tube of hard wood like coconut wood. The inner wood is light like balsa wood. After a few years the stalk falls over, rots from the inside out, and cracks. When it's green it's very heavy from water weight. You want a stalk that's dry but not too cracked or rotten.
Star and I were driving down from the volcano, feeling totally drunk on breathable air after getting altitude sick up on the mountain. We saw this plant. We decided to stop and ask the owner if we could have the trunk.