Sailing Montauk Polynesian Style!


Sailing Montauk Polynesian Style!

Last year, our Vaka Moana fleet sailed across the Pacific proving the efficiency of our ancestral way of designing boats and the validity of our navigational methods. Our mission was to use the wisdom of our ancestors, combine it with modern science to propel us into a more sustainable future, help heal an injured ocean, raise awareness, and revive our cultural traditions of voyaging.

We knew we would make an impact within the Pacific Islands. What we didn’t know was that our journey would create a ripple of inspiration that would spread around the world.

David Ryan, a life-long waterman, grew up just blocks away from La Jolla California’s famous surfing hot spot Wind’n’Sea Beach. He learned to surf and skin dive with his father, to fish with his grandfather, and crewed on racing dinghies at the Mission Bay Yacht Club. Which led to a certification as a US Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain

It is little wonder that he found a way to turn his passion into a career. Crazy for anything that involves the ocean, he started Sailing Montauk, a sustainable, community-oriented and values-defined tourism way of sailing Long Island’s East End.

Their flagship is Tiki 38, a polynesian inspired multi-hull low-emission sailing vessel, designed by James Wharram and Hanneke Boon of James Wharram Designs.


As David says, By selecting a Polynesian design we were able to build a stronger, more capacious boat with a much smaller resource footprint that a modern catamaran design. The narrower beam and lower aspect ratio rig of the design generate much lower stresses than a tall sloop rig mounted on an extra-wide cat. The benefit of these lower, safer stress forces cascade though the design, and result in more sea-going capacity for less lumber, less resin, fewer man-hours, smaller auxiliary engines, less everything. Especially important to our operation is the signature Polynesian open bridge deck design, which gives our passengers an A+ sailing experience. The seating area is safe and secure, with completely unobstructed views”

Another important contribution from the Pacific Voyagers’ Vaka was the design of the rail. Usually, any USCG Certificated Passenger Vessel, a vessel is required to have a 39.5 inch rail containing the passenger area. The typical solution is a rail made of stainless steel tubing that runs long the gunnel of each hull.

“When I saw the railing system on the big Vakas, I knew we could adapt it to MON TIKI. We decided to use wood posts with a wood knee-rail and cap-rail with a line mesh to meet the pass through requirement. Like other aspects of the design, “going Polynesian” and marrying wood with rope epoxy made our solution lighter, more easily fabricated and less expensive than the “traditional” solution.” Captain Ryan said.

Railing on the Te Aurere, from Waka Tapu

Railing on the Te Aurere, from Waka Tapu

Engineered by renown John Marples, a multihull designer, who is intimately familiar with the requirement for building vessels to US Coast Guard certificated Inspected Passenger standards, MON TIKI – an unusual design for the East Coast, had to pass all the safety test of all vessels, modern or ancient, that operate in the US Inspected Passenger Vessel fleet.

The project safety inspector was Giles Loftin of the Coram office of USCG Sector Long Island Sound. One of the concerns was that the Coast Guard would balk at certifying a lashed aka boat. But the engineering review at USCG Marine Safety Center (MSC) in Washington DC showed that MON TIKI was more that strong enough to meet all safety standards. On March 6th 2012, the design was approved by MSC.


On March 4th 2013, MON TIKI had its deadweight survey to determine its lightship displacement. This figure is used to make stability calculations and determine legal sail-plan and routes. It is also reflected in the vessels Stability Letter, a document that all Inspected Passenger Vessels must carry. Again, MON TIKI passed with flying colors.

The last step needed is the final safety inspection to make sure passenger safety, signaling, lifesaving, deck arrangements, etc. Meet the specifications set forth in Section 46 of the Code of Federal Regulation. Once that is complete, MON TIKI will receive its sticker and be legal for operation.

Captain Ryan anticipates a Certificate of Inspection for Limited Coastwise operation with a maximum passenger count of 49, although normal operation will be in the sheltered waters Block Island Sound with a passenger count of about ½ that.


Way to go Captain Ryan and the Sailing Montauk team!