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Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa

Page history last edited by TdeM 9 years, 4 months ago Saved with comment

Sailing in Hawai'i


My new wife Joy and I sailed with Kiko on his double canoe in Hawai'i in 2007.  His web page is here:




I wrote a short description of our sail for the proa_file yahoo group, which Kiko has invited me to repost here.  Since this page is likely to contain content from several contributors, I'll attribute all the text and pictures.


     Kevin O'Neill




Sun Apr 1, 2007


I went on a trip to Hawai'i earlier this month, and went for a nice sail with Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa on his traditional Hawaiian double canoe. I've put some pictures here:

(the pictures are copied below)

There's also a youtube video of his boat here:

YouTube plugin error

Video by Youtube user jojomanana


We had seven people on the boat for our trip. Kiko launched the boat off a ramp near the beach, I paddled the boat to the beach where he raised the sail and got everyone on the boat, and we paddled out through the light surf. We then dinked around in light to medium air for a few hours; we headed in to a small beach to swim and fool around a bit, but when we got there the wave action seemed rough to Kiko and we spun the boat around, sheeted the sail in and zipped out of the cove very impressively. By the end of the sail we were moving very nicely in close to twenty knots of wind, it was clear that these were the boat's conditions.

The boat is thirty-odd feet, eight foot beam, 1600 lbs and about 125 ft^2 of sail that I would call a tacking crab claw, but which Kiko called a sprit with the bottom half missing. Either way, it moved the boat along very nicely once we got some wind, I would say we did six or seven knots in twelve or fifteen knots of wind on a reach. The hulls are identical solid glass from the 50s, taken off a big paddling canoe hull, with a solid deck added and kayak-like openings left for paddlers, very similar to what one sees in pictures of old Hawaiian boats. The boat is steered with a large paddle in the rear from the starboard hull; when on the port tack, you hold the paddle against the outboard side of the hull. When on the starboard tack you can put the paddle on the inboard side of the hull, where the shaft sits nicely against the platform and makes steering very easy. The paddle is not turned, at least I didn't have to when steering the boat while beating and reaching, but rather you dip the paddle deeper to bear off and raise it up to head up. I found it a little difficult to make fine adjustments compared to a rudder, but I only steered for a half hour or so, I'm sure as one gets more used to the technique one would get better. Kiko said he had rudders on the boat for a while, but took them off to enable him to turn the boat in a smaller circle. That's certainly a clear effect, I paddled the boat to the beach from the ramp, and was able to turn the boat myself with one regular canoe paddle very easily, in fact I spun it 180 degrees and had to back up a bit, it was quite surprising how fast such a big boat turned. We were on a real beat for about ten minutes or so, when pointing Kiko had me take the spare steering paddle and insert it between the hull and platform about 1/3 of the way back from the bow to act as a sort of leeboard. The boat seemed to point quite well. We were tacking through about 100 degrees, I would say, though it's hard to say how much leeway we were making. Our crew was not inclined to do so, but if one were with a strong and experienced crew one could certainly paddlesail to windward to very good effect.

A very fine time was had by all. Kiko is a great guy and a real expert with his boat. We had a nice example of how handy the boat is when a paddle went overboard and Kiko did a quick tack and jibe to get back to it.

I've also put a couple of pictures of Kiko's old boat, a lapstrake junk rigged schooner proa, also paddle steered. He said it worked great, and had several runs of 16 knots. It certainly is pretty, I was sorry he doesn't have it anymore.

His website is at:


     Kevin O'Neill




There's another video of the boat here:


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Video by Youtube user honuapo


Some pics of our (Kevin & Joy's) 2007 trip:


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Below are pictures of Kiko's 42' junk schooner rigged proa, which he has recently re-acquired and which he'll be re-rigging and sailing soon.  Should be interesting to see how he arranges it.


While in Hawai'i I had a chance to talk to Kiko at some length about my plans to re-rig my proa as a schooner.  The prevailing idea among proa sailors I had corresponded with was that the schooner would balance fine with minimal rudder input, perhaps even no foils in the water at all.  Kiko warned me that this was wildly optimistic; what I wrote a bit later on the proa_file was:


I went sailing on Kiko's big Hawaiian double canoe when I was on the big island a few years ago. I talked to him a lot about boats, and about my plans to convert my proa to a schooner. He said explicitly, "The CE will be further aft than you think, even only sailing under the foresail. It may not bear off on its own even if you don't sheet the aft sail at all. You need a rudder or a way to shift the CLR aft." He was right.


Kiko tells me that the boat steered fine and was well controlled with a 18" x 3' blade steering paddle.




Watch this space for updates on the proa's re-rigging and eventual re-launching.  Anyone else with videos or pictures of Kiko's boats is welcome to send them on to me and I'll put them up here.


     Kevin O'Neill




June 17, 2010


Tim Mann, Boatbuilder, proa designer, and now aquaponics farmer/educator who has had La Ho'iho'i Ea for the past decade to use as a scale testbed for his big proa ideas has returned her to me.  I will be doing and extensive refit with some revisions, and plan to post a description of her original construction, experiences sailing, and planned changes with the group but as it might take me a bit to write this up, here are the original dimensions:

LOA 42 ft.(12.8m)
Ama length 32 ft.
"Iako(crossarm) length 19 ft.
Main hull beam at sheer 3 ft.2 in.(asymetrical hull)
Ama beam at sheer 18 in.
Beam keel cl to Ama keel cl 15 ft.6 in.
Main Hull 3/8 in. Sitka spruce lapstrake on oak keel,stems,and frames
Ama 1/4 in. compounded plywood
Masts (2) douglas fir pole masts31 ft.8 in. long,8-1/2 in. dia at partners.Unstayed
Sails :Two 250 sq. ft.Chinese lug sails to Hasler McCleod specifications.Double sheets for shunting
Weight 2,200 pounds


     Kapena Kiko



June 25, 2010

  The last 3 days I got the 42 foot lapstrake hull off the trailer and blocked up on beams.
  The rabbeted keel was rotten in several places,and the garboard strakes looked dubious,so I decided to saw them off and go with a "plank keel" or narrow bottom plank,about 9 inches wide like on a Malibu Outrigger.If I ever try rudderboard trunks this will provide a good landing.
  While wedging up the keel for the saw to not bind,it buckled in 2 places.  White oak 1-3/4" by 3-3/4" gone spongy under the mast steps.
  The light and air when working under the inverted hull are most welcome.
   Most of the steam bent frames have a little rot at their heels, these I will cut short and fit floor timbers or a partial bulkhead.  A few(near the mast steps and their "watertight" bulkheads) have rot up 4-5 strakes, almost halfway up.  These will be replaced.
  Two thirds of the deck was already removed, today I cut out the remaining end deck.
  A thorough vacuuming followed.
   I am curious to try the Marianas rig as I am part Chamorro.  (Guam Native)
 The Chinese lug rig is really low stress,and I singlehanded La Ho'iho'i Ea with it while paddle steering, but for daysailing with others the Micronesian rig might be lighter and twist the clinker hull less.  I'll decide later.
  The wider Koa sheerstrake has several splits so I may cut it down,  or off ,  and go with lower freeboard.
  O wau iho no me ke aloha,


     Kapena Kiko




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