Handbuilt Tule Canoe
The Native People of California have been making stout canoes out of bundled reeds for thousands of years. Tule reed is the optimum local material for people here in southern California. Tule reed has large chambers of air within the reed and it is also very durable.
The reeds for this canoe were bundled with string made of agave, jute, and flax, some hand made and some store bought. These are plant fibers that cultures around the world use as string and rope to tie rafts and canoes, as well as make bow strings and even clothing. The oar is made from a palm branch and a palm flower husk tied together with triple wrapped agave string (using only one knot!)
Indigenous people around the world rely on hand made cordage and string for every aspect of their daily lives; a project like this tule canoe puts the value of cordage and string making into perspective.
We used about 500 feet of string total for this project. Some of this string was double wrapped, triple wrapped, or braided in various patterns to make it thicker and stronger, or to give more elasticity in certain places.
This turtle did not know what to think!
We launched this canoe with special permission at a well known Orange County park… see if you can guess where.