Haddon and Hornell in Canoes of Oceania refer to the Micronesian waaliwaiy as one of the "finest types of sailing outrigger canoe ever designed." Antonio Pigafetta, who was probably the first European to describe a Micronesian sailing canoe when Magellan discovered Guam in 1521, wrote that "their outrigger boats passed by our ship very quickly even though we were under full sail. There is no difference between the bow and the stern of these boats and they are like dolphins bounding from wave to wave." Detailed descriptions and numerous sketches of Micronesian voyaging canoes were provided by many of the early explorers, all of whom were impressed by the sailing qualities of these vessels. The features of present-day waaliwaiy are essentially the same as those which have been described over centuries: lateen sail, single outrigger, asymmetrical hull and forked prows.
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