Proa Sailing in Sri Lanka (2)

Now I am on the end of my search. After a short discussion and the right amount, the fishermen are ready to go out to sea. This boat is already, besides fishing, used for a second income. But it's not a well prepared day charter agency behind. The men are real fisher and the boat a real fisher boat (you can smell).

The pole on the ama right is only used for fixing the net for fishing prawns.

During pushing the boat into water I perceived the 2 tons again. It needs really 8 tough men to move it from the beach into the sea. After the first waves give us a helping hand the sail filled with a breeze and we go through the breakers.

We have a good wind with about force 4, which pushes the boat through the waves. The cotton made sail will splashed with water, that it becomes more flexible and strong and hold it's shape. But also with this provision you see the limited ability to sail close to the wind. The flying luff and the big flare don't allow it. But at last it is not so important for the daily use as fisher boat, because the wind direction is mostly constant - and time no problem.

During an hour we sail fast (nearly 7-8 knots) against the 1 - 1,5 m high waves of the Indian Ocean. Now the efficiency of the system URUA becomes clear. The extremely narrow hull shape, a big prow and the relatively high weight join to a very comfortable movement in the sea. The waves are not taken with the usual "WOMM" - they will be mostly cut. And this by the main hull and also by the ama, which works like a submarine. The result is a long and soft amplitude of movement. The Sri Lanka kind of 'wavepiercing'

The total flexibility between main hull and ama causes a complete independent movement of both in the waves. The extreme twist of the high weighted parts is only in the beginning a little bit 'unusual'. Together with the flexible rig the boat nestles to the elements how I never experienced before. Even my V-shaped Wharram Cat works more unkempt when in action.

The bows are bend to windward. So you get first a larger triangle between the stays and second an efficient remedy for partially submerged akas.

The steering, we ever puzzle about, is solved in a simple way. The hole in the rudder plank, I talked before, is not only used to fix it at the hull. It takes up a bend bough - ready. For steering it will be turned only in one direction. That means the boat is lee helm as standard. If the rudder has no effect you fall off otherwise you change the angle of attack. The 'windward foot' of the helmsperson pushes - if necessary - the rudder deeper into water to change additionally the lateral plane. The relaxed bearing of the helmsperson shows the usefulness of this system.

There were only to fisher men on board, which handle all with ease and always with a smile. Shunting needs around 2-3 minutes. On the course back the daggerboard would set to equalize the unsymmetrically shape of the whole boat. It was a fine and fast ride surfing on the waves back to the beach.

Proa Sailing in Sri Lanka - surely a highlight in my sailing life. It gives me a lot of experiences and perceptions I have to think about in relation to my considerations in proa design. But most I am sad that in my home country no bamboo grows.

Othmar Karschulin


PS: As a contribution for development aids I recommend our driver Mr. Kapila all, who want to explore Sri Lankas beauty in a safe and relaxed way:
Sri Lanka Holidaytours - Kapila Bandara
Sri Lanka Sailing Part 1
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