Polynesians traveled huge distances with their specially designed boats.
Polynesian catamaran, catamaran, Polynesia, sailboat, water transportation, shipping, navigation, discovery, Pacific Ocean, island, Islands, explorer, watercraft, settlement, sail, antiquity, prehistory, history
Which island / archipelago is not part of Polynesia?
Based on a 19th-century classification, the western region of the Pacific is divided into three parts: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. About 4,000 years ago, a large-scale Austronesian migration began from the island of Taiwan. According to the most accepted theory currently, it was a late wave in this migration period in which Polynesia was first settled about 3,000 years ago.
Since the islands could only be reached by sea, the construction of sea vessels and navigation played a key role in the life of Polynesians. One of their typical vessel types was the catamaran.
Polynesian catamarans developed from dugout canoes; two parallel hulls of equal size were attached by wooden beams. The result was a fast and stable vessel with a shallow draft. Catamarans usually had both paddles and masts with sails. The masts were placed at an equal distance between the two hulls.
The fastest Polynesian catamarans could excel to a speed of up to 12 knots. Interestingly, the bow and stern were the same shape. This, together with the structure of the boat and the sails, made it possible to swap the ends of the vessel.
Catamarans were made in various sizes, depending on their usage. The longest ones were up to 40 m (131.2 ft) long and were used for transport and long-distance voyages. War catamarans were designed to be particularly fast, so they were narrow and had no sails.
These specially structured vessels have proven very efficient, as Polynesians have settled over a vast area, often traveling huge distances between the islands.