Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
The houses are all made of bamboo and thatched with plaited palm leaves and built on piles about four feet above the ground. The space underneath is generally occupied by pigs.
Each village is completely hidden from the seaward by the dense forest growth all round it, and with the bright green of the palm and rubber trees, and the red flowers of the hibiscus and poinsettia gleaming in the sun, it looks most beautiful.
Of course it is very warm, for New Guinea is only a few hours’ sail south of the Equator, but these people must have a very happy life of it, sitting in the shade all day making their nets and baskets and going out in their canoes to fish in the evenings. The cocoanut trees all around, with the pawpaws and banana plants, produce all the fruit they can want.
How to Build a Dug-out
As these people live entirely on small islands, they, of course, possess an enormous number of canoes. The ordinary canoe only holds about three people.
They are wonderful concerns, and one might easily be made by a Scout for himself. In the first place not a nail or screw is used in the building.
You take a log or trunk of a tree about fifteen feet long and about two feet thick, and, here comes the difficult part, with an adze or a chisel you hollow out this log by making an opening of about eight to ten inches wide all along the top of it to within two feet of each end, and scoop the inside out.
You then trim away the lower side of the two ends to bring them each to a point. Then fix two or three seats at different points along the slit.
How fix them without nails? Well, of course you can use nails or wooden pegs if you like, but the way the Kanákas do it is to bore holes in both edges of the slit and in the plank that forms the seat, and tie it there with thongs of split cane, which with them takes the place of cord.
Well, there is your boat. But if you set it afloat and get into it, it will roll over and capsize you into the water, which is not exactly what you meant it to do.
So to prevent this the Kanákas make an outrigger by taking two or more poles, about eight feet long, and fastening one end of each across the top of the dug-out so that both project out to one side at a distance of some six feet apart.
They then fasten a log to the ends of these so that it serves as a float and a balancer to the dug- out. The log would be about ten feet long and about six inches thick. When fixed in this way it prevents the dug-out rolling over in either direction and makes it perfectly safe.
This kind of outrigged canoe is called a catamaran. Before building one it is best to build a small model first.
A Kanáka Catamaran or Canoe