Boat design and www.bigkanu.com

Imagine the doldrums, endless glassy equatorial seas, as far as the eye can see, and never changing for day after day after day.

Take a lovely yacht, a sister to the famous Swan 57 design classic, a boat built to take on the worlds oceans with grace and comfort.

Gorgeous inside, and all action on deck.

Sadly, when you plonk such boat on a sea of glass, its as useful as 300kph Ferrari in a traffic jam.

The oceans either side of the equator are famed for their lack of wind, as weather systems from the northern and southern hemispheres get somewhat confused about which way the wind blows.

Prone to 30 minute storm cell, hissy fits, the true murderous anger of the cyclone/hurricane/typhoon is out of bounds within 1100km of the equator, so its a nice safe highway to make distance out of seasonal harms way.

Trouble is, for sailing boats in the equatorial band, there is, as often as not, no decent wind.

In the late eighties, the Bigkanu-ists where making their way from Australia towards Africa, on a beautifully equipped 53ft ketch, weighing about 28 tons, of which 9 tons was lead ballast, slung below the hull, with same painful effect on performance, as a weight lifter raising his bar, using a rope tied to his testickles.

Apologies for the rather crude analogy, but if you were with us, back then in 1989, endlessly dragging that ballast across 7000km of windless ocean, motoring and wasting fuel day after day, I assure you, the frustration of the experience brings to mind the weight lifters analogy.

The mind of Bigkanu is not like any other, and it strives to see and experience things clearly for what they are, and a sailing yacht limping across and ocean with no wind, its as pointless as tits on a bull.

It was back then, that the search for a solution became a sprouting seed.

How to design a boat able to cross oceans, on the budget of a bum yachtie, with the speed of a fast cruising boat?...oh, and without wind.

In the 90’s a multihull designer from the Isle of Wight, called Nigel Irens started experimenting with what he named the ILAN...an Incredibly Long and Narrow boat, with trainer wheels. The boat was launched and immediately won the Around Britain record, on a teaspoon of diesel, leading to his bigger, 30m+ version, called Cable and Wireless Adventurer, ( now a Sea Shepherd hunter) that went on to hold the around world, speed record, for 10 years....again, with amazing fuel efficiency.

You cannot jump in a solid, safe motor boat, and expect to cross oceans without the income of a Trustafarian, or a sponsorship from Shell, if you are pushing a normal displacement hull through the water. You need to be long and thin...infact a beam only 6% of the hull length.

It was with this idea, that www.trybrid.org was conceived, then www.bigkanu.com, built.

But not before a few years “work” traveling around the globe, test driving every version of an outrigger canoe that floats. Which I might add, was a frivolous hoot. And, as a general summary of the whole Bigkanu experience, is an ample summary, namely, “a frivolous hoot”.

Of course there are moments of near tragic death, disaster and depression surrounding all boating pursuits, particularly ambitions ones. Nonetheless, climb every mountain, ford every stream, and life can be a Sound of Music epic.

So Bigkanu is infact just a big canoe, the same same as just about every common sense, islander boating solution here on this planet, going back a few thousand years, to times when boats had no lead in their fin keels, and weight lifters did not use their testicles at the gym.

These days Bigkanu crosses the equator 4 times a month. And our food bill is 6 times bigger than our fuel bill, so now we are trying to figure out how to get some broad acre crops on our upper deck. This challenge is proving a bit problematic for now, but hey, we live Waterworld style, so anything is possible.