Friday, 19 February 2016

Toroa pics by Russ Brown Auckland 2003

These are some low res attempts to capture colour slides by basic home made clip to camera shot.

I spent several days on the water with Russ Brown during his visit to NZ in 2003.

We met entirely by chance, If there is such a thing as chance!.

One day I had packed up Toroa from a great day's sail at Devonport in Auckland. Julie and I were driving with Toroa packed up on his very conspicuous trailer. Driving along the harbour front we passed the Devonport Yacht Club when, to my complete astonishment, I saw Jzerro anchored near the club jetty.

I stopped; quickly parked the car, much to the surprise of of my passenger, ran to the club house and burst in on a meeting in the bar. I asked breathlessly if anyone knew where the owner of the proa was. One bemused member replied, "What's a proa?". I pointed at Jzerro and said "that is" before turning and running back out of the club room and back to the car. As I got back in and began to pull into the traffic again I spotted a figure in the distance, riding towards us on a fold up bicycle, dressed in an old raincoat (it was a clear blue sky day).

As we approached each other the cycle rider pulled up to my open window and asked "are your Harmen Hielkema?" I replied, .."you must be Russ Brown!" I re parked the car, I climbed out of the driver seat and walked up to Russ and we shook hands. "I've been looking forward to meeting you though I never expected a meeting quite like this!"

Russ came to our place for dinner and we found much in common. I was surprised at how much he knew about my work with Mike Toy. I made arrangements for them to meet. It was a very memorable visit for me, I spent time on Jzerro, Russ spent time with me on Toroa. Russ generously took an entire day to photograph Toroa sailing. He selflessly gave me the negatives from his camera without hesitation.

Russ is definitely a brother. It is a pity that our lives are spent so far apart, his work was my work, we were developing our ideas separately from each other at the same time in quite separate hemispheres. It was not until I found the Wooden Boat magazine publication in the early 1980s that I even knew of him. By then we had developed our designs to a remarkably similar outcome. I assume that common influences ( Dick Newick, et al) drove the direction or our development .

Toroa on port tack North Head Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003

Toroa on port tack North Head Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003
Toroa on starboard tack North Head Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003

Toroa on port tack Bastion Point, Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003

Toroa on port tack Rangitoto Island, Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003

Toroa on starboard tack, North Head Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003

Toroa on port tack, Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003

Toroa on port tack Auckland, Waitemata Harbour. Photo by Russ Brown 2003
I'll have these images professionally copied shortly and repost them in all their original clarity, from the lens of one who knows what he is looking at!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Old images keep coming to light.

I have a large collection of images of Takapu and Toroa that I will share as time allows.
I'm still casting around for a good way to capture digital images from old colour slides.
Below is my first attempt at taking an image directly on to my camera via a short PVC cylinder fixed to my camera lens with a slide slot cut into it. I set the camera on macro, point it at a blank sheet of white paper for back light and this is the result. low res but better than nothing I hope.

Takapu off Waiheke Auckland 2003 photo by Paul Gilbert Aquapx

Takapu same day (Photo by Aquapx)

Takapu same day (Photo by Aquapx)

Takapu same day (Photo by Aquapx)

Takapu same day (Photo by Aquapx)

Toroa off Milford, Auckland.

Me and Toroa a few years ago.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

An enquiry from John in South Africa

Hi All

I still get quite a few enquiries about my proa experiences.

To save answering the same question time and again here's a common one. There has been much conjecture about my decisions to do this or that over the years, frequently answered by those who think they know what my motivations are better than I do!

Dear Harmen, sorry to intrude! 

I  have been reading your blog off and on for years, and recently spent a lot of time going over it again.
I was thinking what sort of boat I would make if I were to build a  beach/lagoon proa. 
When I went back further in your blog I found that your earlier boat, with the  Bermudan rig was very similar to what I had drawn, basically a smaller version of Jzerro.  The only major difference was in the positioning of the mast,
I was surprised to see that you had found this layout unsatisfactory, and moved to the Crabclaw sail and steering boards in Toroa.
Can you please explain to me what some of the major problems were with the earlier boat.  I can see that perhaps it was had a too high mast and main, and that with the mast position you used on the hull you would not have been able to stay off to lee at the bows like Russell Brown has done with his more windward   mast position.
Best wishes
 Cape Town

Hi John.

Nice to get a message from you.

I was not dissatisfied with the Rig of Takapu. It was the perfect amount of power for me. Bear in mind that the proa configuration gives you 50% more righting moment than a catamaran. If anything it was the most versatile and successful rig configuration for our sailing conditions in NZ.

I was not that impressed with the rudder solution required to balance and steer. The rudders were dual purpose, they were counterbalanced to act both as a centre board and rudder. This required a very strong stainless steel shaft which needed to be thick enough to support torsion and tension loading simultaneously. This thickness of shaft meant a heavy assembly a long way out at the ends of the hull combined with a thick rudder blade cord section to accommodate it. I went for 5/8" s/s rod. They eventually bent from multiple groundings and high leeway loading at speed.

Being centre case loaded cassettes, these rudders were the most unreliable aspect of the design. I had always wanted to try weight, trim steering as was traditional in Micronesia. To do that I decided to opt for the lateen rig. I was immediately sold on the rudderless steering idea. Mostly this required an experienced crew. As I was a loner and crew was nowhere to be found I let this evolve into an ogive section centreboard steering system which I describe in my dissertation.

If I was to start again I would modify the Takapu model and develop that. It was best for single handling particularly when I had two roller furling jibs, one at each end.

In answer to your question about the rig being taken aback and comparison to JZerro.

The mast was supported by a rigid windward compression strut so that it could not blow over to windward. The windward hull was just buoyant enough to support the load whilst I corrected the situation.

I very rarely got taken aback but when I did there was no issue with sailing the boat back out of trouble.

I am too unwell with RA to continue with my practice based proa research so I have resigned myself to sailing a small canoe and a 10 foot dinghy. I am still sailing solo except on the rare occasion when my children visit.

Hope this is helpful.



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.