Tikopia is a tiny remote Polynesian island in the Western Pacific, which has maintained self-sufficiency for 3000 years. The island has a canoe building culture, but is now unable to make seagoing canoes large enough to make longer passages. This canoe will be the only autonomous transport to and from the island
 
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James Wharram & Chief Tafua 1996
James, Ruth and Jutta aboard 23'6" Tangaroa in Falmouth, Setember 1955, waiting to set off 40' Rongo, built in Trinidad in 1958, the first catamaran to cross the North Atlantic
The James Wharram team in 2004;  Hanneke (Design), James and Ruth Wharram (merseburger) in discussion with old cheifs Tafua and his son Edward
 

NEW! The Lapita Voyage website now has the latest boatbuilding photos - HERE

 
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50 years On
- Returning the Design..

50 years ago James Wharram, with the help of two German girls (Jutta Shultze-Rohnhof and Ruth Merseburger), sailed across the Atlantic in a tiny 23'6" double canoe he designed and built himself after long studies into the records of boats of the Pacific in the libraries and museums of Britain.

No scholars in the Western world at this time believed that the Polynesians had boats capable of directed ocean voyages. James believed otherwise and set out to prove it by doing it himself. He followed this first Atlantic crossing by building a 40' V-eed hull double canoe in Trinidad in 1957/8 and sailing her across the North Atlantic in 1959 from New York to Ireland, a voyage that had never been done on a 'catamaran' before. See two girls two catamarans

In the next 50 years James, over the last 30 years assisted by his co-designer Hanneke Boon, has worked, by designing Polynesian style catamarans for people to build themselves, to bring the concept of seaworthy, ocean going double canoes to the western yachting public, meeting a lot of resistance from the British yachting establishment on the way, particularly in the early years, when people still could not accept that a 'native' boat could be as good or better a sailing ship than a Western type yacht, particularly when such a craft was self-built by an 'amateur'. After 50 years they are now an accepted feature in the world of yachting/ocean sailing and can be seen in most harbours of the world.

 


The building and sailing of a voyaging double canoe for Tikopia
and to reintroduce seafaring to the islands of Tikopia and Anuta would be the best possible way to celebrate the 50th anniverary of James' first Atlantic crossing by double canoe and his lifelong devotion to the Polynesian double canoe concept.