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Originally a small open boat which, by definition, was used by primitive nations. During the 17th–18th centuries the native craft seen by those involved in the exploration by sea of the Pacific and other areas were also called canoes, though some found in the Pacific were, and are, remarkably large sailing vessels, usually either catamarans or outriggers; others were propelled by two banks of paddlers, up to 20 or 30 a side. Two of the most efficient ocean-going canoes were the twin-hulled Pahi of the Tahitian and Tuamotuan archipelago, and the Tongan Tongiaki, both of which were between 15 and 21 metres (50–70 ft) long. Some encountered by Captain Cook were longer than his Endeavour and carried as many as 80–100 men. As David Lewis noted in his book We, the Navigators, and as John Voss proved, the seagoing canoe in all its varieties is extremely seaworthy and can cover great distances in safety. See also kayak; proa; sepulchral ships.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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