Fernando Librado and Falcon 2

In 1976 as a Bicentennial Project and as a Chumash cultural revival item, a team of Chumash and anthropologists used Harrington’s notes and Librado’s canoe to build a replica tomol. Appropriately enough, it was named Helek, and was paddled out to the Channel Islands by a Chumash crew. The file photo above shows Helek in action in the 70s.

Helek is long retired from sea duty, and is now hung on the wall in the Fleischman Auditorium at the Museum of Natural History, across a courtyard from the boat Librado built, as you can see in my photo here.

This last shot shows some detail of abalone shell inlay on the Helek‘s bow. The sewn-plank method of construction is apparent, and also the unique pattern of the paddle blades – I think they look like ginko leaves. The Chumash used double-bladed paddles, as we are familiar with from kayaks, but Harrington did not record any blade shape. This was taken from a Chumash paddle collected in the Santa Barbara area by the Vancouver Expedition in 1793, that currently resides in the British Museum.Helek has had a number of successors. Just as we were leaving on vacation three weeks ago, I saw on the local news that a group of Chumash paddled a tomol from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard out to Scorpion Harbor on Santa Cruz Island.

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