A Scale replica of Eric De Bisschops 1936 Polynesian Double Voyaging Canoe " Kaimiloa"
Eric Wartenweiler Smith
French Sailor and Ethnologue Eric De Bischop was the pioneering voice on behalf of the intentional conquest of the Polynesian Islands by skilled voyages of exploration, discovery and return to point of origin through the study and mastery of navigation and using seaworthy craft.
Derided by the "experts", De Bisschop embarked on a long distance voyage by small double canoe to bring awareness amongst academia and the islanders themselves to his theores. Initially called "Suicidal" He completed the 280 day voyage half way around the world from Honalulu to Cannes and arrived to a hero's welcome in 1937.
Unfortunatly the event was overshadowed by the outbreak of WW2, and after the war Thor Heyerdahl broadast his oposing theory of Polynesians as helpless drifters at the mercy of winds and currents and never able to make a return trip home. Heyerdahls insulting views remain tru in the eyes of much of the public, dispite 70 years of academic support and relearned techniques in boat building, navigation, and voyaging by Pacific islanders who largely credit De Bisschop for their inspiration.
I propose to build a scale replica of the original Kaimiloa based on whatever information, photos and video available. His family have shared private photos ofconstruction techniques including a scale model built by him in France after the voyage.
As the original Kaimiloa was built at a time when there was very little information available on polynesian vessel construction, De Bisschop was not constrained to be accurate to any construction technique. His goal was to prove a concept. Very few records exist of his cunstruction material, techniques, design, etc.
By building a scale construction model first, I hope to discover more about how Kaimiloa was made and how a buiding a full scale replica could be approached today. During the process I hope to flush out any other poorly known sources of information on the Kaimiloa and the voyages of De Bisschop and Tatibouet
Eric De Bisschop could neither build a true replica of a polynesian vessel nor demonstrate their navigation techniques. It the time, they were unknowns. He sought only to say " I believe that they did it, and I'm willing to risk my life to prove it was possible"
Today the study of Polynesian shipbuilding and navigation is a huge deal, yet still overshadowedin the public eye by the media stunt of Heyerdahl 70 years ago. My Goal in recreating De Bisschops work would be to attemt to undo the harm done by Heyerdahl and bring attention to another sailing pioneer who got his facts right.