Building Kiski, a school project to build a Melanesia

Home Wharram World Building Kiski, a school project to build a Melanesia
By Zac
A group of 7 school children with orange outrigger canoe
The students at Kiski school

This year, 2021, I am a freshman at The Kiski School, an all boys private boarding school located in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. In my Survival Arts class this semester, we spent nearly a month piecing together the Melanesian Outrigger Canoe. Throughout the whole process, we had different students in different classes helping our teacher create this canoe.

The plans for the canoe were very easy to follow. The pieces all fit very well with one another to the point where we had no issues putting them together. We made the outrigger out of PVC piping and put wood on either end to make it the right weight and length. We added our own touch to the boat. Students from multiple classes printed stickers of their names to put on the canoe. We painted 'Kiski' onto the opposite side of the boat.

Orange outrigger canoe on the grass with green crabclaw sail up
The finished canoe

We took turns controlling the canoe on the pond in the golf course. Each of us had an enjoyable time learning how to build a boat. We learned how to follow the instructions and connect all of the pieces in the proper way. Unfortunately, I had to join classes remotely for the start of the building process. I spent this time watching my classmates start to assemble the boat and doing some research on Melanesian Canoes. By the time I was able to attend in person classes again, I was eager to help get the boat ready to use. I would arrive at classes early and stay late to help do my part to complete this project.

Outrigger canoe on the pond, crewed by two
Trying out the canoe on the pond

Each period we were all at work. Some people would hold pieces together, some would put wire into the small holes to hold the pieces together, and others would be finishing up the long poles that connect the outrigger with the canoe. I could see my classmates excited about seeing the progress on the boat as they entered class each day. I also could see how happy they were taking the canoe out on the pond.

The entire process was an exceptional learning experience. From learning about the history of the outrigger canoes, to piecing together the boat, and even to learning how to steer and control the boat on our own. Each day the classroom was alive, which is one thing that made this experience even better. The attitudes of the people around me in class helped create a more fun and beneficial learning experience.

Outrigger canoe being paddled on the pond
Testing out the canoe's paddling abilities

After nearly four weeks of hard work, we spent 2 or 3 class periods taking videos and pictures of us in the canoe. It was a great time. As we thought our project was coming to an end our teacher began constructing a sail to add to the canoe. After the sail was completed and mounted to the boat, we learned how to sail the canoe. There were some bumps along the way, like when the sail hit me right in the face, but ultimately the sail was a great addition to the canoe.

The building of the boat was a great idea on our teachers part, everyone ended up having a great time building and sailing the final product. Next year, we hope to build the Tahiti Wayfarer so that we can have more people on the boat at one time. Although this boat is more complicated than our first one, I am fully confident in the ability of myself and all of the people around me to create another masterpiece.

Well done to all students involved in the construction of Kiski and a big thank you to Zac for writing this article!

Zac with laptop