Glenn Tieman and his 38ft Wharram catamaran

Glenn Tieman's catamaran Manu Rere - now remaned Manu Lele

Lets get this out of the way first. This is not a tacking outrigger, but again I use the argument that this is my website and I just love this boat. It was built by Glenn for $15,000 and he travelled around the Pacific for ten years living on one dollar to three dollars a day. From memory Glenn milled his own timber so in escence the timber was free, I think from memory it is strip planked and took three years to build. I may be getting a bit confused here, possibly the ten year voyage was in his earlier 8m Wharram catamaran, and this one was finished in 2007.

Notice the use of lashings versus use of expensive chainplates, lashings work very very well though can need occasional tightening to ensure their integrity. All Wharram catamarans use lashings, all ten thousand of them!

Some things that you will notice is the abscence of modern fittings. I cant see any expensive stainless steel fittings, no goosenecks, no carbon fiber, no kevlar or roller furlers, but hey do you really need them. Reefing is via brailing the sails, and then if wind is too strong replacing the sails with a smaller set. If your aim is jsut to get on the water, and you can live with other people having a faster boat, that may point higher, then your a winner. A large catamaran like this is going to have high instrinsic speed, so even without the most modern high tech sails, you still have a craft that performs very well. Ther is a lot of room for storage, plenty of space to sleep. Crossbeams look like solid logs (very cheap to buy and easy to find replacements)

I love this boat because it shows people that you dont need a spare $300,000 to have a nice boat that can travel safely thousands and thousands of miles. If you have a tenth of that, then you can go! (sell your car and travel,,, gee maybe I should do the same... hmmm)

More information can be found at some of the following links


Glenn Tieman's email conversations

Please note that I have been in email contact with Glenn Tieman early 2022, and have Glenn's permission to post these exchanges online, there were about four or five emails by each person, I have tried to condense them into one thread. I have altered the sequence a little, however the words remain unchanged. My words are in italics, Glenn's words are in regular font.

As to my relationship with Glen Tieman, all I did was send him a facebook message. He then replied and suggested email would be better; after ten weeks I finally got round to emailing him, and he replied within ten hours. What I find interesting is that we have two successful boats, both simple Pahi 26 and a Tama Moana, yet neither carries a board or high tech masts, kevlar sails etc etc. Tama Moana is a Wharram ethnic style catamaran of 38ft length, strip planked and has two crab claw sails as a rig. I think a reasonable term to describe the vessel would be spartan

Hi Peter, I'll reply to your comments/question one by one: "There is a facebook group called tacking outrigger sailing and construction. It is now very busy with a lot of interest."I don't use facebook much but will have a look at that.

Some questions. Gary Deirking, who has designed and built many outrigger sailing canoes, and authored a book on the subject, would like to know where you are now? Last we heard was that you were in the Philippines

Manulele is at a small inexpensive private dock at Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. I had been spending 3 months there, sailing to nearby islands in the South China Sea, alternating with 3 months in California where I inherited a house when my father passed away 5 years ago. When the pandemic began Malaysia prohibited all foreigners, and that is how it still stands, so I've been locked away from my boat for two years.

You remarked that you thought that Tama Moana design was the greatest sailboat ever designed. I look this with a small grain of salt. I am sure it works for you, however when I look at it from a distance I notice that there is no full height deck cabin. If perhaps you were sailing in higher latitudes with colder weather, then perhaps the lack on an enclosed cabin with standing headroom might be an issue.

The lack of windage is one of the reasons that she is a great sailboat, not a great houseboat. I don't use an engine so I value sailing ability more than most people.

I guess a serious question might be, how is upwind performance. I notice that the rig is dual crab claw sails, that have a low aspect ratio. You also, as per most Wharram designs have no daggerboard or centerboard. I can see that advantage of no boards in terms of lower capital cost, less maintenance, and a freed up interior. "The crab claw ketch rig has many aerodynamic and handling advantages.

It is not low aspect ratio, the two sails together make an exceptionally elliptical planform, the spars force the sails into a beautiful airfoil draft shape, parasitic drag is very low, and much more.The deep sideboard rudders act as daggerboards, but will not rip the hull open on impact.Upwind performance is fabulous, jaw dropping, but I have made some detail adjustments to the sails, based on 15 years of studying them, which improve their aerodynamics.

Is is true that you still use a large rock as an anchor?

I have never in my life used a rock as an anchor. I had four imitation Rocnas fabricated in Philippines then galvanized in Kota Kinabalu. I also had a fisherman fabricated at Tarawa to my own design and that is still a work in progress, not quite right.

There was someone else who built a Tama Moana, he found that after a few years the crossbeams started to rot, he was interested in replacing the designed beams with box beams. I dont think this is a good idea as the ability to replace crossbeams with simple low cost logs makes a lot on sense.

It is hard finding trees or logs from which to make the roundwood crossbeams but they are the best because the core of a log is in compression preloading the active outer part of the log in tension. Since wood is three times stronger in tension than compression this makes the log more than twice as strong as a sawn wood beam of the same size. The tama moana cross beams are very small for the boat size contributing to the boat's low drag, very thin structure between the hulls. I made my beams out of Honduras mahogany that was plantation grown at Pohnpei, then I epoxy/ fiberglassed and painted them. Mahogany is very stable so they dried free of checks. It took several years but these are the best cross beams.

Are you aware of the Gaia 2 tacking outrigger by Yvette Wijnen. I am impressed by this design in terms of efficiency of materials, a lot of boat for modest investment.

No, I'm unaware of that. I built a 18' copy of a northern marianas flying proa as a harbor toy. It shunts and is awesome!

Of course the recent sad news on the passing of James Wharram. I think he was the best designer of multihulls of recent years.

Yes. I never met him but my life could not have been what it was without his genius. What a great loss. Thanks for your questions and interest. I am dying to get back to Manulele and the sea. Hoping to sell the house and get back to cruising full time when it becomes possible again.

Here's a couple of the newest pictures of Manulele, plus an older one with draft tape on a sail so you can see the great shape, and a beauty shot of her anchored briefly with sails brailed next to a little lagoon island at Wallis Is. The tent is only rarely used at sea. Brailing isn't really a substitute for reefing, with the exception of "spilling" which is halfway brailing and can be used when sailing downwind, although I don't regularly. Close hauled and close reaching, tilting the sails is effective as a first reef. Brailing is very useful in a calm to quickly silence and subdue the sails without having to drop and raise, among other uses. As I've refined the rig, brailing has become tight enough to furl the sails in squalls.

1. Manulele is not Wharram inspired, she is a Wharram, I built her strictly to the Wharram's design, although I made minor adjustments after trying the original first, which the designers expected since this design was a research project from the outset.

2. I bought the WR cedar as rough 2x6s and made the planks from that, ripping them off the edge and making the tongue and groove edges. I bought the best wood that I could find, absolutely clear and flat grain so that the planks being cut off the edge ended up vertical grain. I think that I spent about $4000 on the cedar. I bought a barral kit of WEST system epoxy. The plywood was bs 1088 okoume. Materials were all the best that I could find.

3. About the lack of metal fittings, you know the wharrams were ahead of their time in this, nowadays soft shackles and dyneema standing rigging is the highest of high tech.The main thing that I wanted to add is to convey a hello to Gary (Deirking) . I read his book and still have it on board. As with everything I started rigging my proas as simply as possible but after trial and error they ended up rigged almost exactly as Gary prescribes although I still haven't incorporated the shock cord loaded aspect.

Anecdotally - when I was at Tanjung Aru, where the pic of my proa is taken, I came ashore after a proa sail and the commodore of the yacht club approached me saying that he had seen me at the islands a few miles out and then when he looked a minute later I was pulling up on the beach. He was flabbergasted, and invited me to the club. Glenn

This is my previous proa on a beach at Tarawa. I thought you, and Gary, might like to see the rig as it's almost the same on the new proa. Same ama too which is less than perfect for the newer proa. Should have twice the volume and three crossbeams. Then I could use it to explore areas like the Terengganu estuary and sleep on the bridge. I had thought that I needed to be able to paddle on both sides but the new proa is so asymmetrical that it can be paddled on the lee side only.

I am sure I read somewhere that the total cost of materials for Manu Lele was $15,000 USD, is this correct?"

Yes that's right but if you include yard rent, tools and similar it would be more like $20-22,000 and my cost of living, even as frugal as I am, for the roughly 4 year build in southern california was much more.

Do you get bored or lonely spending all that time out at sea by yourself for so many years?

For one thing, as I'm sure you know, most of those years are spent anchored with lots of people around and things to do. As for the weeks alone during passages, I read a lot. I feel lonely when I leave friends behind but, after some days, excitement over the destination drowns out the sadness. One exception was a passage from the west side of Johor Baru through Singapore Straits and all the way to Labuan, about a year before my father died. That was difficult, long, frustrating, and lonely, part of the reason that I stopped sailing long distances for a while. Long long ago I had a similar experience when I first left Mexico for Hawaii. It was so frustrating trying to work my way out into the trades that after a week I turned back and only accomplished the passage to Hawaii after a backpacker joined me in it.

I know you spend your money frugally, but how do you afford to keep sailing for so long.

No, I don't mind. Especially being locked away from my life like this. It's a real pleasure chatting with you. I lived extremely frugally, with no housing cost at anchor, no car, eating local food, I even towards the end had a rocket stove and burned firewood to cook on deck when possible. I also, from my earliest times in the tropics, scavenged fallen coconuts, or bought them cheaply in public markets, which I had learned from Pacific Islanders how to use in cooking. Sometimes I took tourists day sailing for a few bucks, and I went back to California when I reached the Philippines on Peregrine (the Pahi 26 that I first crossed the Pacific on) and substitute taught for several months which financed the last four years of that cruise. I had a degree in chemistry before ever beginning the sailing life,so between abandoning Peregrine and the building of Manulele I got a teaching credential and taught high school science for seven years which financed the building and first five years of the Manulele cruise, then I started collecting a $500/mo pension early, which is a lot of money the way I live. When he died my father left me a little money but the joke is that I put a substantial bit of it on Tesla, which you probably know was the investment of our lifetimes. Thing is I love my boat and my subsistence lifestyle, so don't really expect to change much. You might be amused by this short clip of cooking with firewood while in the midst of the 1000 mile passage from Kapingamarangi to Yap in one of the most remote parts of the world..

I was aware of the Manu Lele blog a few years ago, but I think I kind of forgot about it.

Hasn't been anything to write about for several years.

Do you ever worry about Pirates, it may well be that when they see your boat, they make the assumption that there would not be a lot of high tech expensive things to steal on board

I have thought that, and further, they may run from me when they see my scimitar shaped sails, on the horizon. Generally in the pirate zone (to be explained) when I see a vessel in the distance they quickly disappear over the horizon. I've sailed a lot between Sabah, Malaysia and Palawan, Philippines across the Balabac Strait and even around that area as far as I dared and had pirates well in mind because they are real in the southern Sulu Sea and even attack Malaysian villages, kidnap and decapitate people. Even the Bajao Laut, sea gypsies, stay away from some areas as they told me. Except for a couple of hot spots like that there is more risk of thieves and ruffians when the boat is anchored. I've been subjected to a lot of violence over the years on shore but never at sea.

Has the lack of a motor ever been an issue. I read that some windjammers might get wrecked because although the ship was in perfect condition, the wind had died and the currents slowly pushed the ship onto the rocks.

I think that that is almost impossible because currents have to go around islands and reefs. Several times I've been becalmed while making my way towards a reef pass and the current swept me right through the pass. I enjoy the challenge of doing without an engine especially within harbors.

I was looking at some photos of Manu Lele, and I am sure I saw at least one photo where the larger sail was at the stern, so based on this, it appears you were sailing backwards? Assume this is not a massive challenge with a double ended boat with lifting rudders.

I don't know what you saw as I never put a bigger sail on the stern. Many people mistake the bow for the stern of my boat(?). With the mainsail dropped, the mizzen sheeted center, and rudders raised she does sail backwards. Can even steer a little by having the small mainsail up and backwinding it one way or the other. I've used this technique to sail through bays that were too shallow for the rudders.

Do you mean you are no longer a young 51 (this is Glenn replying to me)? That's about the age that I started the Manulele voyage, I'm 65 now and I know guys who are substantially older than me who are adventure cruising. The stereotype (absurd as it is) is actually that yacht cruising is only for retired rich people so I figure I've only now gotten to be the right age. Another thing that's been observed is spending time at sea improves our health and longevity, although it's dangerous in terms of immediate risks.

It's fascinating that the Malayo-polynesians reached all the way to Madagascar. That's a place I'm dreaming of going to if the lockdowns ever end. Might sail through the Java strait down to the southern trades, pass cocos, stop at Rodrigues and maybe Mauritius then Madagascar and possibly back to Asia via the Maldives (which have recently opened up better to us) and India.

Since you are thinking a lot about boat design, I'd like to share with you what I think is the most important aspect of boat design and which is virtually never mentioned. Motion in a seaway. There are a couple of aspects of this.

1. The most dramatic is when sailing to weather in open ocean tradewind conditions. This means the swell is about 3 -4 meters high with the top 3/4 - 1 meter breaking, wind is plentiful at 15 - 20 knots. What determines boat speed is how much punishment the captain is willing to subject himself and his boat to. Boats in general are terrible at handling these conditions, because they are blunt they overreact, digging deeply into the wave before responding then shooting off the top of the wave, and crashing down into the trough. This is one of the features that the Tama Moana excels at, the long fine bow overhang giving a measured controlled early response. This results in a lot of water on the fore decks so they are designed with features to get the water off: tumblehome reducing deck width, v-shaped decks, spray deflector walls, and no hatch covers there.

2. When sailing before heavy following seas what determines boatspeed is the tendency that all boats have to round up, caused by both wind and water action on a boat shape. This can be worse on the long low canoe shape. A transom stern improves this behavior but causes other problems when it's too big and/or right at the waterline. This is why pacific islander canoes, including tama moana and also the Marianas style proa, have flat plate like features well above the water on the stern; these are aerodynamic devices. (I personally do not understand what Glenn means here, am too embarrassed to ask him, and display my ignorance)

I think I know that Richard Woods story. He was in a tehuantepecer and called for rescue, unless he stuffed up again like that. Myself I don't think that we should go to sea in unsafe boats (like a deckhouse with sliding glass doors ffs!) and then expect to call for rescue when things go bad. Tehuantepecers are gap winds along the pacific side of Latin America where the easterly winds blocked by the peninsula squeeze through at two low spots, the Gulf of Tehuantepec and also the Gulf of Papagayo at Northernmost Costa Rica. When I sailed from Costa Rica for the Marquesas I was hit by a Papaguyo and sure enough that was some kind of storm, 30 ft seas breaking like shore surf, the entire wave curling over and crashing down and unlimited in length off to the horizon, booming with the kind of visceral guttural thunder of a close by lightning strike, covering square miles of ocean in racing two foot deep spume shining white in the full moon. This is not usual conditions, very rare, but I sailed through and out of it, no damage.

The pahi 26 was pretty terrible at first. The turning point was when I re-rigged her with the tiki 26 rig (at Cabo San Lucas after breaking the original mast coming down the peninsula) which utterly transformed her. One thing I liked about the Pahi 26 was it has a very high prismatic coefficient which is one of the keys to minimal hull drag. There might be other advantages to the Tiki, along with the rig, but all I can say is that the Pahi 26 took me to places beyond my wildest dreams.

I looked up kir-8 and to be honest I didn't like what I saw. (earlier i had mentioned that the westernised canoe, the KIR-8 was to my mind impressive) White people impose our own ways on others far too much, in my opinion this patronizing is a global catastrophe. When I go to exotic places like Kiribati it is to learn from the people there not to play the white savior. Pacific watercraft were far superior to clumsy white man vessels.

Even though I have a pretty good degree I could never get anywhere in the US, that's partly why twice I built a boat and got out. By all means, publicise my comments as you see fit, Thanks.

The biggest construction cost by far is labor. My four years of full time + work (which is a fast construction time) would have to be worth at least $200,000. Also, as you say, a conventional rig on a 38' catamaran would have a 50' mast costing something like $10,000 and the mainsail built as strong as a sheet of plywood would cost $5000 and couldn't be handled without many winches. And in the end it's so hard to spend 15 minutes winching up the mainsail that the boat is just motored.

James Wharram was the ultimate in open-minded experimentation hence the chined hull (Glenn is referring to one of James Wharram's later catamaran designs, Amatasai, with a chined hull versus his usual deep vee). I also expect to try something like that. I carry two outrigger canoes. The smaller one is built as light as possible purely for paddling. I think that this one should have that kind of broader chine shape for more buoyancy low down and therefore less freeboard. In large part this is to reduce its profile while on Manulele's deck.

By the way I changed the name to Manulele partly because in French Polynesia Manu Rere is a (word that means a man who dresses as a woman), so the Samoan guy who suggested the name might have been playing a practical joke, as they do. Also Manulele can translate as free spirit which suits me.That zoom rocket stove wore/burned/rusted out so I replaced it with a silverfire brand one that is much better yet.I have a little electricity on board, a couple of lights inside and a bright one to put on deck in traffic. I have a small fan. I have an inverter and can charge my tablet computer and run an electric drill. Charged usually by solar panels through a charge controller. As lithium ion batteries become more available, more electricity will make sense. Even electric cooking and electric motoring for a half hour max in calm would fit well with sail. What is ordinary now is diesel engines all the way and that is not good for people's integrity and self-esteem.

I've been communicating with two other wharrams guys. A fellow named Vesko in Panama fixing up a Tiki 38 which he bought there needed a lot of work. And Guillaume who bought a Tama Moana from Andy, the pro builder in the Philippines, and had it shipped to Mauritius or Rodriguez where he lives. It was shipwrecked badly in a storm at anchor but he is doing the extensive rebuild himself. He also has a Pahi 53 in the Med. In support of my previous comments I thought it might help to send you this picture of my friend in Kiribati with his traditional canoe, made from locally sourced breadfruit wood, rather than imported plywood. I also included a clip of our going away party drinking tuba for your amusement. These people have every reason to be proud of their culture. Glenn