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Samoan Material Culture

The Large Dugout Canoe

The Large Dugout Canoe

The 'iatolima ('iato, outrigger boom; lima, five) receives its distinctive name from having five outrigger booms. It is an advance on the soatau in size with additional booms and being sailed, it usually has additional depth provided by topsides and protection from an inrush of water by bow and stern covers. A suati balancing spar also projected from the right side of the canoe.

No 'iatolima was seen, but Kramer (18, vol. 2, p. 248) figures a model of a soatau which is rigged as a 'iatolima, including the sail. The hull is undoubtedly a soatau dugout with finer lines at the bow and stern. The upper edges have wide inner flanges and there are no topsides, or bow or stern covers which my informants stated were characteristic of the 'iatolima. On the other hand, there are five outrigger booms; a forward pair, a middle pair, and an aft single. Each boom has its own set of two pairs of connecting page 379pegs not diverged below so much as in the soatau. The float is cut off short behind the aft connecting peg. Two longitudinal poles are lashed to the booms above the connecting peg lashings. The suati balancing spar is present. The characteristic features of the rig of the 'iatolima may be followed out in figure 223, taken from Kramer.

Figure 223.—Five-boom, 'iatolima dugout:

Figure 223.—Five-boom, 'iatolima dugout:

1, aft single boom; 2, 3, middle pair of booms spaced sufficiently to allow balancing spar to be placed between; 4, 5, forward pair of booms close together; 6, suati balancing spar with inner end passing under cross piece (7) and above a second cross piece (8); 9, float; 10, connecting pegs in pairs; 11, two longitudinal poles; 12, knob ornamentation; 13, serrated edge ornamentation; 14, wide inner flange of upper edges; 15, sail; 16, spars supporting sail; 17, fore stay from fore spar to bow; 18, aft stay from aft spar to aft boom; 19, right side stay from, fore spar to balancing spar; stay on other side to one of the outrigger booms concealed by sail.

The significance of the five booms can now be followed. Three booms would have been quite enough if the canoe had been propelled by paddles alone, but the use of a sail necessitated special provision for a balancing spar and the support of the sail spars. The balancing spar was provided for by placing two booms close together in the middle with enough space for the spar between them. A cross piece was lashed above the booms over the left edge of the canoe and another similar cross piece was lashed above the right edge of the canoe. The inner end of the spar was placed under the left cross piece and as it projected out over the right side it rested on the second cross piece to which it was lashed. The forward pair of booms were placed closed together to give support to the lower ends of the spars supporting the sail. page 380The triangular sail, with the apex down, was lashed on two sides to fore and aft spars the former of which was kept vertical by three rope stays; one to the solid bow piece, one on the right to the balancing spar, and one on the left to one of the projecing outrigger booms. The aft sail spar was stayed to the single aft boom and could be manipulated as required. In sailing with the wind on the right, any heeling over that would submerge the float to the verge of capsizing the craft was remedied by putting weight on the balancing spar. With the wind from the left any heeling over that brought the outrigger float too much out of the water was met by leaning out on the outrigger booms.

The 'iatolima has the distinction of being the only dugout that was sailed and it received its name from the special technique of providing five booms to enable a soatau hull to be sailed. The provision of topsides, and bow and stern covers are improvements to a craft that sails out beyond the reef.

Before passing on to plank canoes, it may be stated that dugout bonito canoes are now being made quite extensively in Savaii. The hull is hollowed out of a single log but the lines and finish follow those of the plank canoe.