Tuesday, 24 November 2009

To Clarify

    Just recently Julie and I attended the New Zealand Proa Congress at Whangaparaoa a few miles north of Auckland city. Several people asked me about my motivation to build and develop proas and if I had plans that could be followed.

    My answer?
I've covered some of this already in my dissertation "Takapu the Proa"

    My motivation is to understand the people and the thinking behind this very unique sailing paradigm, so different from the one I grew up with.

    I believe that the only way gain insight and to understand is to do what others have done before me, not just read about it through the experience and observations of others or observe myself (although that too may be part of the process). Whilst engaged in the process of doing I find that I begin to have a conversation,  both with myself and with something outside of myself. I rarely calculate or draw my solutions but rather I draw from materials and solutions around me with the idea in mind that the universe provides more solutions than the problems that we can create. Many solutions already exist or existed which we either have not yet seen, have forgotten, never knew about or will never know. Toroa has emerged from this process in his current form. There are still details that need addressing, the solutions, already known or awaiting discovery.

    I have not provided plans for Toroa as I'm unwilling to support any potential demand because of the amount of work involved in drawing and publishing them. I don't see this as part of my journey. Toroa is also something of a one man horse, emerging simultaneously with me. I have also developed sailing instincts and experiences that take years to acquire and hone. For me the process of building and sailing go together. I would encourage that others try a similar approach.

    Toroa resonates to the pattern set out by the ancient Micronesians however he is a product of my own vocabulary of skills. I am familiar with my chosen materials and processes, all of which are derived from my surroundings. In this way I am no different from any boat builder who has gone before.
Different from modern boat builders I am following a pattern in an improvisational sense rather than following a specific set of predetermined instructions, this in my opinion is the timeless way of building.

    The more I learn from my experience the more I value this intuitive approach which informs so much else of what I do.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

"If" By Rudyard Kipling

My Father read aloud to us when we were young.
Our favourite stories were among the writings of Rudyard Kipling.
As long as I can remember, during the course of my father Roelof's working life, he had this poem framed and hanging on the wall beside his desk.
He knew it off by heart as we came to know it too.

Recently I was reminded of the sometimes bitter struggles that emerge from the quest for possession of the riches derived from the various things that we all strive to achieve, creativity in all the varying arenas of human activity from the arts, science, music, historical research, etc.

There are always those people who are envious of our achievements, bitter from a perceived lack of recognition who would seek to undermine the work and worth of others rather than take the risk to sample the opportunity of striving for themselves.

Kipling states it succinctly in this poem.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Joni Mitchel recognised the power of these words and has put this poem to music.
It features on her latest album, "Shine"

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Proa Toroa on Youtube

Toroa as he was in 2000-2006 with steering foils demonstrating a shunt on Lake Pupuke, Auckland NZ.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Takapu's old sloop rig

The sloop rig was adapted from an old
Olympic class Tornado Catamaran

Here is Takapu on his second fit out in 1980.
By this time I had set up the roller furling jibs and as you can see by the outrigger extensions to leeward I was trialling sheeting positions and ideal jib/mainsail slot relationships.

The roller furling jib system I developed did have exactly the characteristics
you describe Kevin re partial furling at mid roll.
However when at a mooring I needed to separate the furling line to allow a
complete furl at each end. for this I used stainless steel "sister clips" do you
know what they are over there? Perhaps you have a different name for them? Two
identical "C" shaped claws that are sahped so that when you hold one at right
angles to the other presenting the mouth of the "C" to each other you can hook
them together. The furling line is spliced or tied off on a hole at the base of
each "C". We used the for cliping spinnaker sheets to the sail in dinghy racing
in the 1960's & 70's.

This arrangement allowed me to separate and cleat each sheet independently when

Not too long after this image was taken Takapu was rolled over on his mooring at Whangaparaoa during a severe tropical storm. The mast was broken in two in the rough shallow bay so I had to splice it back together using a tubular sleeve and pop rivets.
It was then that I decided to replace the old windward strut with a longer, more rigid, tubular T6 aluminium tube and lengthen it to support the mast on an improved swivel joint at the fore and back stay hounds.

The mast attachment that I built was similar in most ways to a boom goose neck
fitting. I adapted the mast attachment plate from a cast aluminium goose neck
fitting rated for a 30 foot keel boat. The bracket had two beckets with
pre drilled holes for a pivot block. It also had a concave base in the vertical
axis so it fitted neatly to the leading edge of the mast at Jib hound level.

I made up 2 stainless straps to fit the inside of the 40mm (about 1 1/2 inch)
T6 aluminium tube that I chose for a compression strut/windward shroud. The
straps were 150mm long dinghy chainplates with predrilled hole (where shackle
pins were intended to be fastened) which I bought inexpensively at a local
marine hardware shop. The straps were riveted into the tube opposite each other
to protrude abot 50mm out of the upper end of the tube creating a gap of about
25-30mm. I then made up a block of Tuffnel (a high density resin fabric
composite that was commonly used in the electrical industry as a non conductive
distribution board panel)I'm sure that any tough composite or even ultra high
density plastic will do.

The block measured 25mm thick and 100 mm deep and 60mm wide shaped like a "D" I
drilled two holes in that block, 1 down the length of the back of the D and one
more through the side of the D in the middle of the curve. I then pinned a
stainless bolt through the chainplate strap holes in the end of the compression
tube and through the thickness of the block, (the one through the side of the D
in the middle of the curve).This attachment point also took connections for the
two forestays.

The second attachment was a stainless bolt passing vertically through the two
beckets of the gooseneck fitting on the mast and through the vertical hole
drilled down the back of the D. I made sure to not over tighten the nuts on
either bolt to allow freedom of movent. This created a kind of universal fitting
allowing mast rotation through every possible axis without the fouling problem
you describe.

With the forestays attached slightly to windward on the compression
strut/windward shroud, the mast was able to rotate freely to follow the sail
through 180 dgrees to either tack.
This gooseneck fitting never failed in the whole time it was in place.
If you build one ensure that the holes and pins are a snug fit with no slack.

The wishbone boom was built from an old extruded aluminium luff foil from a damaged racing keel boat rig which I scored from the scrap bin outside the rigging shop where I used to work in Auckland. The boom lasted for the 20 year life of that rig!

Takapu was launched as Seabird in the late 70's up until the time of the dismasting
after the rebuild he became Takapu.
In this image taken in 1979 "the second incarnation" The old shallow V stich and tape ama
still features. Note also the slender compression strut. Bloody useless!
My rudders were built to house in center board slots. These were designed to
act as both rudder and center board. The slots were built in to the hull at a
point where Mike and I felt they would balance the rig at a reasonable CLR and
would still be far aft enough to steer as well.
My rudders were ogive in cross section (flat on the lee side and a section of an
arc on the windward side) through the foil so they would work in either
direction when partially housed.

They were counterbalanced as well so that they had some almost neutral balance
when strong lateral loads came on. The stainless steel shaft was 5/8 inch round
bar on to which I had welded flat bar tangs which were bolted to the flat panel
on the lee rudder suface and imbedded during construction in the curved surface
of the blade 1/3 back from the leading edge.
The shaft was supported and pivoted in a wooden space frame which supported the
whole assembly in the center board slot through to the bolt on tiller and

They were vulnerable to being grounded when fully down though they were not very
deep (500 mmm), 2ft below the hull so I could sail close in to shore and use my
inertia to carry me in to wading depth with the rudders fully or partially

The shafts were badly bent and fatigued after a series of groundings and impacts with submerged objects by the time I retired them.

Mike and I discovered that the ogive section was so efficient as a lifting foil
that the pivoting action was not needed at all to steer the boat so we went to
fixed ogive section foils that were controlled by small tackle lines. Instead of
a tiller Toroa had a second sheet.
The control line allowed me to pull the foil down through the hull against the
tension of a bungy cord which always retrieved the board flush into the hull
when there was no tension on the control line. The method proved far superior
to the old one so I adapted the idea for the new proa Toroa as well. Now though,
since I have extended the length of that boat Toroa no longer needs rudders at
all. I'm on a perpetual quest to remove moving components and on
towards my goal of simplicity in all things.
It has been that initiative that persuaded me to abandon the sloop rig in favour
of the lateen on my proa which I now favour over all the other rigs I have

Toroa by Harmen Hielkema & Mike Toy.

Header Photo: Toroa at Rawene by Julie Holton.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of my father Roelof Hielkema who instilled in me the willingness to learn.
These pages are intended to inform and add to the growing body of knowledge concerning the Canoe Culture of the Pacific, past, present & future, from the Tupuna, the Ancestors of the Pacific cultures to the people of the world.

These pages contain Images and text relating to our two proas, Toroa & Takapu, some history relating to our experiments & experiences.

The dissertation that I posted on this blog in April 2008 "Takapu The Proa" was written by me in 1997 in response to an assignment that I was set whilst studying for my design degree. The dissertation covers many issues that a proa enthusiast may benefit from reading about.

Waka define culture as culture defines waka

Waka reflect the individuality and uniqueness of a society which in turn is governed by the geography, geology, topography, climate, location, resources, isolation, origin, flora, fauna, flotsam, jetsam, etc.

Waka are our link to the past, they have shaped our present and define our future.

Waka are the vessels of knowledge, physical and mental development, freedom of bondage to the land, key to our inquisitiveness, expressions of our ingenuity and courage, our love of shape and form, the seat of our power.

Waka are the source of our material culture, from which all processes are derived.

Waka are who and what we are.