Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lightnings, Jaguars – former RAF Coltishall has been home to some of the most advanced aircraft of the last century. And now the station has welcomed a very different form of transport – a 26ft-long traditional Fijian canoe which is en route for Norwich.
The boat has hot-paddled its way to north Norfolk on the back of a container lorry, straight from its appearance in the Queen’s 90th birthday pageant in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
It will now take a rest from its role in the limelight, remaining in storage at the base, now Scottow Enterprise Park, until autumn when it will be one of the star attractions at an exhibition in Norwich.
It will be seen again at the Sainsbury Centre exhibition Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific, from October 15 this year to February 12, 2017.
The double-hulled canoe, known as a “drua”, is the same type of boat which chased Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty out of Fijian waters after the mutiny in Tonga in 1789.
The building of the canoe was supervised by Joji Misaele, of Fiji National University. He is a canoe sailor himself who, with his family, had previously built an outrigger canoe.
The drua, constructed in five months, was made from local hardwoods and coconut husk fibre, with leaves for the house roof.
It contains no metal components and is decorated with white cowry shells.
Mr Misaele, who has accompanied the canoe to England, captained it in last year’s Hibiscus festival races in Fiji where the four-man boat performed well.