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Endeavour journal, 21 July 1769 (Series 03.329)

Notes: Page header reads: 'Ulhietea'
Author: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Date: 21 July 1769
Series title: Series 03: The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
Frame numbers:
Transcript: 21. Dr Solander and myself walkd out this morn and saw many large Boathouses like that describd at Huahine page 303 and 401. On these the inhabitants were at work making and repairing the large Canoes calld by them Pahee, at which business they workd with incredible cleverness tho their tools certainly were as bad as possible. I will first give the dimensions and description of one of their boats and then their method of building. Its extreme lenght from stem to stern not reckoning the bending up of both those parts 51 feet; breadth in the clear at the top forward 14 inches, midships 18, aft 15; in the bilge forward 32 inches, midships 35, aft 33; depth midships 3 ft 4; hight from the ground she stood on 3ft 6; her head raisd without the figure 4ft 4 from the ground, the figure 11 inches; her stern 8 ft 9, the figure 2 feet. Alongside of her was lashd another like her in all parts but less in proportion being only 33 feet in her extreme lengh. The form of these Canoes is better to be expressd by a drawing than by any description. This annexd may serve to give some Idea of a section: aa is the first seam, bb the second, cc the third. The first stage or keel under aa is made of trees hollowd out like a trough for which purpose they chuse the longest trees they can get, so that 2 or three make the bottom of their largest boats (some of which are much larger than that describd here as I make a rule to describe every thing of this kind from the common size); the next stage under bb is formd of streght plank about 4 feet long and 15 inches broad and 2 inches thick; the next stage under cc is made like the bottom of trunks of trees hollowd into its bilging form; the last or that above cc is formd also out of trunks of trees so that the moulding is of one peice with the plank. This work dificult as it would be to an Europaean with his Iron tools they perform without Iron and with amazing dexterity; they hollow with their stone axes as fast at least as our Carpenters could do and dubb tho slowly with prodigious nicety; I have seen them take off a skin of an angular plank without missing a stroke, the skin itself scarce 1/16 part of an inch in thickness. Boring the holes throug[h] which their sewing is to pass seems to be their greatest dificulty. Their tools are

made of the bones of men, generaly the thin bone of the upper arm; these they grind very sharp and fix to a handle of wood, making the instrument serve the purpose of a gouge by striking it with a mallet made of a hard black wood, and with them would do as much work as with Iron tools was it not that the brittle Edge of the tool is very liable to be broke.

When they have prepard their planks &c . the keel is layd on blocks and the whole Canoe put together much in the same manner as we do a ship, the sides being supported by stantions and all the seams wedg'd together before the last sewing is put on, so that they become tolerably tight considering that they are without calking.

With these boats they venture themselves out of sight of land; we saw several of them at Otahite which had come from Ulhietea and Tupia has told us that they go voyages of twenty days, whether true or false I do not affirm. They keep them very carefully under such boathouses as are describd p. [ ], one of which we measurd today 60 yards by 11.