The MOANA NUI Project

by Christophe Mercier

I am Christophe Mercier, journalist, photographer and researcher, and after investigating many years in the Pacific area for UNESCO, on the revival of traditional Pacific Navigation, I have created a project named « MOANA NUI » web site in French, English version soon online).

This project's goal is to build some ancient Polynesian catamarans replicas, with which we are going to make an expedition across the Pacific, as well as take participants on board, who will finance the project by their participation.

Thus, the goal is to make build 2 Polynesian catamarans for the 1st year, then 1 catamaran each year for 4 more years, which makes 6 catamarans in total.

As the expedition will depart from the Philippines, we are looking for boat builders in Asia (closer to the expedition departure place)

We would for sure provide the plans, but as an example of what we are looking for we invite you again to look at the web site, and moreover, we can are send some images, and a web site video link of such Catamaran Built in Senegal, Africa.

We can also send some images of traditional building techniques we have identified in India (coconut fiber rope lashing of hull planks...), to show you the kind of ancient techniques we are looking for.

Each catamaran should be around 60 ft. LOA.

As you can see, these catamarans have nothing modern in them, no facility, and that's much more a kind of prehistoric replica we are looking for...

But a very seaworthy replica!

And it has to be very long lifetime, last for at least 30-40 years, and easy to maintain.

We are waiting for your comments on such building techniques as far as length of life, seaworthiness, waterproofness, and maintenance are concerned...

Comments for The MOANA NUI Project

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Feb 14, 2012
by: Mike

Thank you Christophe, for telling us about your superb project.

Do you intend to use traditional Polynesian building methods for these boats or to explore modern materials and methods?

Is your project purely an anthropological one?

I wonder if perhaps it might have more relevance if it were to consider and explore how the ancients used natural resources and how their knowledge might add to how we do things now.

So much of that knowledge has been subsumed by our (the west’s) obsession with plastics.

You mention James Wharram’s catamarans, but these have in the past been built using plywood and epoxy resins.

However, when I last spoke to him at the Beal Park Show he was experimenting with Soya based resins and matting made from bamboo.

Unfortunately I haven’t had any experience with any of these ‘natural’, environmentally friendly resins, such as soya, as they only seem to be available in industrial quantities.

While I don’t believe sheathing is either necessary of even desirable on a boat built using solid wood planking, it might be interesting to combine traditional stitching, using fiber rope, with ‘modern’, environmentally friendly, caulking materials.

And are ‘modern’ sail cloth materials any better than traditional porous natural fibers?

I use the term ‘modern loosely as there is nothing new about the use of natural resins and materials, what is new is the commercial patenting of age old knowledge.

But then perhaps that is nothing new either, even the Polynesian navigators, as I understand it kept and guarded their knowledge within strict hierarchies.

And that is another collection of knowledge that perhaps should be explored in relation to modern electronics.

Could their ideas on the star compass be updated?

While GPS is a wonderful recourse it does leave us entirely dependent (at present) on the US military, the stars, the planets, the moon and the sun on the other hand are fixed for anyone to use.

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