Wharram Melanesia No. 325

The Melanesia, designed by James Wharram and Hanneke Boon, is a 16 foot (4.9m) outrigger sailing canoe. I decided I'd like to build one after (a) building and sailing Aoraki (see the rest of these pages) and (b) trying a windsurfer and finding it very wet in comparison. I wanted something not as bulky and heavy as Aoraki, but more of a boat than a sailboard.

My Melanesia is now launched, and has been given the name Waka Iti. As yet it is only for paddling; the sail will be built (hopefully) over the winter.

Hull build - April 2001

This time I decided to build indoors (many people have pointed out what an incredibly considerate wife I have), and it went together very quickly. The hull was built inside two weeks, largely at evenings and weekends.

[deck clamp (24kb)]

Here's one way to clamp a curve into the decks. It needs only one clamp, a stout beam and a couple of small blocks. The deck was cut to fit later, hence the odd squarish shape.

[finished deck (27kb)]

This is what the deck looks like complete, with the deck beams (laminated from ply). You can also see some of the wire stitches still protruding from the sternpost. Note bottles of West System epoxy - wonderful stuff!

[bow (painted) (23kb)]

Here's the bow, painted a glorious yellow.

[forward beam locations (28kb)]

The Melanesia has two forward beams and one aft beam; here are the fixing holes for the forward beam lashings. The inside is varnished (for UV protection) as well as resin coated.

[oot the windae (34kb)]

Here we go! I had long ago determined that the only way to get the boat out of the house was going to be through the window. This causes a few difficulties, living in a first floor flat; however, the prospect of a "boat-moving" party seems enough (from the entertainment value, largely) to get a few friends round to help. Note the safety rope from above, as well as a guide rope dangling below.

[lower away! (27kb)]

Finally, it's all out and ready for lowering. Once the downstairs party had hold of the bows, the stern could be lowered on a rope. All went like clockwork - the whole operation was over in about five minutes.

Many thanks to the Kellys and Syretts for their help on the day; even a Wharram this size is a very sociable boat!

Outrigger and launch - June/July 2002

[float (30kb)]

The float was made from two timbers about 120mm by 60mm, laminated with expoxy. This was then shaped using an electric planer. Cheating, yes, but I have no great desire to stand on a log with an adze trying to avoid my ankles. It's still a dangerous tool, but it makes the job of shaping to the round, and shaping the ends, so much quicker. The float was then coated with Burgess wood seal.

The supporting sticks were then cut from 25mm dowel. Rough positions for the holes were measured, then drilled (electric drill of course) estimating the direction by eye. This worked well enough - the sticks are jammed into the holes, and the lashings can correct for alignment errors.

[float detail (27kb)]

Here's a close-up of the sticks for the two forward beams. Although the alignment looks a bit rough, there's enough flexibility to sort it out when lashing the sticks together and lashing on the beams. I have not found any problems with either getting the sticks in (bash home with a stone) or out (waggle, twist and pull).

[cartopping (41kb)]

This shows how nicely Waka Iti fits on top of the car. The beams stow underneath the hull (as will the sail, once built) and the outrigger (not visible here) alongside.

[launch (59kb)]

At last Waka Iti is in the water, though Nordic rather than Polynesian water. The sarong was in fact appropriate for the weather!