I have always been enamored with outrigger canoes and catamarans. Prior to reading this book, I couldn't have seen myself ever building something this beautiful and useful. I've built small wood & plastic models, but that's about it. I bought this book recently, read and re-read it cover to cover, and performed as much research on the subject as possible. Two weeks later, I ordered a set of full sized plans for the Ulua sailing canoe featured in this book. I am in the midst of building this boat as I write this review.
My personal experience aside, I will say that this an exceptional DIY book with many clear and well-composed illustrations and diagrams. The author goes into detail with his instructions but remains accessible throughout. In a couple of instances, he suggests some alternatives to techniques and materials for construction. This is not an overly technical read or a jargon-ridden manual. All the measurements are given in English and Metric units. There are no tricky formulas or maths to confuse the manual process.
Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes is approachable to the first time builder that might have a little experience with power tools. If you've cut lumber with a tablesaw, built models with glue, and used a sabersaw to cut out basic wood shapes, then you have the skills necessary to build any one of the canoes in this book. You have the option of purchasing the full-size plans at a reasonable price from the author if you have doubts or no previous experience creating lofts from offsets.
Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes is not meant to be a historical survey of Pacific outrigger canoes, nor is it meant to be a complete guide on how to sail, paddle or cruise with them. The book is exactly what the title implies.
The only areas for improvement I can find are possibly in the technique sections. A few more pages could be spent on detailing the strip planking and sail rigging, but there are several excellent books written on the subject. In my opinion, the author would be re-inventing the wheel if he did so. I'd suggest Ted Moore's "Canoecraft", "Sailmaker's Apprentice" by Emiliano Marino andr Nick Schade's "Building Strip Planked Boats" for further reading. Gary mentions a couple of these in the book's resources appendix, along with several valuable internet sites and forums specifically on outrigger sailing, culture and construction.