(source: Hawaii History)
part of everyday life in coastal villages, canoes were used for
fishing, travel and exploring the shore. Faster than a foot or
donkey trail over rough lava, canoes were the quickest way to get up
and down the coast.
The single-hulled outrigger was ideal for near shore fishing. Canoes
were typically 15 to 24 feet long with a single float on the port
side for stability. With a one and a half-inch thick hull, a 24-foot
canoe weighed less than 50 pounds, making for easy handling.
Canoe making, like other Hawaiian undertakings, involved much
spiritual preparation, ceremony, and prayer. After prayer and
ritual, craftsmen selected a tree for the hull, generally koa, then
used stone adzes, chisels, and files to shape the boat. Booms were
made of hau wood and the ama, or float, was shaped from wiliwili,
the lightest, most buoyant wood, or from hau. Other components
included fish spear racks, paddles, bailers, ropes, and anchors.