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Carver will build full-sized canoe from spruce trunks for charity

Thu., May 30, 2013

The Salvation Army created quite a log jam on North Division Street and Nora Avenue on May 23.

That’s when Trans-System delivered two Idaho-grown white spruce trunks for the Salvation Army’s Marshallese Ministry Program’s outrigger canoe building project. The bigger trunk was 20 feet long and nearly 6 feet in diameter.

“Isn’t this just awesome?” said Captain Kyle Smith of the Salvation Army. “I’ve always wanted us to have a canoe and then this outrigger project came up and I thought, well, why not?”

Brad Corkill, of Cataldo, donated the two trunks and an anonymous donor gave $4,000 toward the project.

Marshallese canoe carver Tiem Clement is spearheading the project.

Born and raised in the Marshall Islands, Clement now lives in Spokane and has built canoes and outriggers in Japan, Australia, Japan and Hawaii. Clement doesn’t speak much English, so friend and Salvation Army employee Franlee Frank translated for him.

“He misses the ocean and canoe-building,” Frank said, as Clement showed off a model of the outrigger he’s built.

A Marshall Islands outrigger canoe has a bigger main canoe with a sail, and a smaller canoe attached next to it, giving it the profile of an uneven catamaran.

Frank and Clement spent the winter building a detailed model using wood from the Salvation Army’s Camp Gifford youth retreat. The model is about 4 feet tall.

Frank said the full-size outrigger will look exactly like the model, except the sail will be made from a tarp – not from coconut leaves – and the rope won’t be made from tree bark.

“In the Marshall Islands, we use breadfruit tree to build canoes,” Frank said. “And the rope is made from a special bark. That would be too expensive.”

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The canoe will be built in a small parking lot just off Division Street, Clement said. The finished outrigger will head to Camp Gifford and for a maiden voyage on Deer Lake.

Smith said it was difficult to find a big enough log.

“We couldn’t find one around here,” Smith said.

It took the precise maneuvers of two skilled forklift drivers to get the logs off the truck.

Now the sawing, cutting and carving can begin.

“We will be done in a month,” Frank said, smiling. “We will work morning, noon and night.”

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