La Cale 2 l'Île
La Cale 2 l'Île


In our association la Cale 2 l’île, we have been known for building or careening wooden boats so why building a paper canoe? To make it sailing, of course, and give pleasure to bold sailors who want to paddle and explore the beautiful Erdre river as Nathaniel Bishop did in his famous journey from Quebec to the gulf of Mexico in 1874/75.

But a shell in paper, why? To realize a full scale experimental educational project which saw the light in an infant-school, the school of La Crémétterie located in Saint Herblain in the suburbs of Nantes (France). Within the framework of the activities of the foundation “la Main à la Pâte” , their school mistress leads a project called “Boat Challenge”. The children are being asked to build a boat with sheets of paper (origami) and seek to solve the problems attached to the permeability of this material. We met this school mistress in our premises. Thanks Mrs Parmantier.

This project has been comforted by the experience of one of our members who, teenager, repaired and gave a new look to his kayak making its shell in paper. Thanks Mr Daniel Croze.

The fondness for paper watercrafts go back to the last third of the XIX° century, the “ Paper Age” thanks to Waters father and sons, who launched successfully the fashion of paper boats, building them in a plant located in Troy (NY) So, the “baron of the cardboard box”, Elisha Waters became the ”king of the paper boat” . The vogue lasted up to the beginning of the XX° and curiously never went beyond the USA limits. In our country, we can meet people who, in the sixties, built paper kayaks reading Système D magazine. We are looking for this issue. Please contact us if you have information about it.

Recently, various projects have been realized in different countries. USA: The Massicot, paper skiff built by a group of artists , Mare Liberum, guests of the Clayton Antique Boat Museum(NY). They roared from Clayton to Montreal (165 miles) down the Saint Lawrence. Netherlands: an artist, Marten Winters, with the help of 3000 volunteers built a 20 meters long paper mache boat. Wales: a canoe which shell is made out of sheep poo paper by Lez Taylor and Lawrence Toms to paddle to France and collect funds for purchasing an air- ambulance. 

So where do we stand on this project? Our canoe-mould is 14 feet long, 2’7”wide and 1’2” deep.

Our first attempt on paper gluing took place last year with the participation of 150 children from various schools who definitely enjoyed the challenge. Thanks, La main à la pâte, Sequoia and Unis-cité. Unfortunately, our haste of paper-sticker novice made us remove from the mould the paper shell before its complete drying. The result was a beautiful ground paper carpet. Nevertheless, despite this failure we learned a lot about paper gluing and how important it is not to confuse precipitation and celerity. Now, we are building the wooden structure. We will again call on the children for gluing and, of course, we have to complete the work ensuring the watertight integrity of the shell.

We invite you to participate to the first tests of seaworthiness in june. Do not worry, we provide lifekackets…

(To be continued)


La main à la pâte : Foundation created by french Nobel prize Charpak, on the model of “Hands on”, sustained in Nantes by l’Ecole des Mines .(an engineer school)

Sequioa: Nantes city town educational pole: aims to promote science and sustainable development for children. 

Unis-Cités : French Voluntary civil service with its branch Curio-Cités which volunteers take care of activities of discovery for children

Sites consulted on line: Nathaniel Bishop, Voyage of the Paper boat canoe. A geographical journey of 2500 miles from Quebec to the gulf of Mexico during the years 1874-5.

About Waters’ paper boats: ken’s paper boat revised 2011;

The massicot paper boat; sheep poo paper boat and Leeuwarden paper-mache boat.

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La Cale 2 de l'Île
Hangar 31

Quai des Antilles
44200 Nantes


Téléphone : 02 40 12 09 87‎

Nos heures d'ouverture

du mardi au samedi

de 9 h 30 à 18 h

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