Canoe Sailing & Little Proas Ahoy!
We have lots of little rivers here in Michigan, but lots of big lakes, too. I really like my super lightweight canoes and kayaks. I can haul em, afford em and handle em, no problem. But I'd like a little more speed and versatility.
A sea kayak is a great way to explore about 10 miles in a day down a Great Lake shoreline or across a bay to the next town. Yet here in Michigan 10 miles isn't much---it really doesn't get you to the next town that often. A tiny, super lightweight boat that could readily get you 50 miles a day, now that would be more like it.
Basically, to do this we need to add a sail to our canoe or kayak.
Then there's our growing family. It would be great fun to find a boat that the whole family can explore in. Yet it would have to be in about the $500 homegrew range. And be towed by any car without hurting gas mileage hardly at all. The boat and junk in it really couldn't weigh more than a few hundred pounds.
I think that for our river canoeing that we'll soon need TWO boats! Yikes! Hmmm, one of them better have a rudder so that Martha can keep it out of the sweeper logjams on the outside of the turns... Ya know, that might even be this summer. Those kids are GROWING.
Anyway, for the lakes, I hope to add a SAIL rig to our line-up in some fashion one of these days.
How best? Also, you know that I love the SPEED.
Well, I've been googling around...and there's a LOT of sweet info out there.
Now, sure, I also publish a great small, fast, cheap sailboat book myself---"DREAMBOATS"---so I know the answer is out there. But, man, the Net has sure made this stuff boom. I think my book used to be the ONLY place to look for this info.
Well, the magazine MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS was the only place, to be specific. That's where I got the columns to make the DreamBoats book on cheap, cool, 3rd-world boats.
In fact, there's a bunch of great small, light, versatile multihull info in MAIB back issues that I *still* want to turn into a book, asap!
Anyway, that's where I learned about THE PROA.
A proa, from the little I know, is a hull with an outrigger and a sail. There are jillions of variants, but that'll do. It's not a catamaran---it tends to be faster than a cat. These are the boats used to go for the "40 Knot Sailboat" super speed records. When westerners first explored Oceania they were boggled at the performance and simplicity of the proas they saw. I've heard of designs that seem to go fast ALMOST RIGHT INTO THE WIND. Going windward, as you may know, is the toughest thing in sailing. Yet proas can ROCK in this regard. In fact, some of them speed up as you point higher. Crazy stuff. Yet they can be very seaworthy. Of course with an efficient sail you don't have to go superfast---you can just use a smaller sail for a given level of performance. The concept seems suitable to my sailing canoe quest. Maybe...
Proas are supposedly far better performing than comparable trimarans. But I'm not sure they've done very well yet at such great small-hull events as the WaterTribe.org Everglades Challenge---in fact I think the organizer was considering banning them. So who knows what all is going on...
Anyway, check out these beautiful websites and blogs on this subject. To me, a small boat, canoe or kayak looks good with a sail, when it's done right.
*Canoes of Oceania ... http://harmenhielkema.blogspot.com
*Outrigger Sailing Canoes ... http://outriggersailingcanoes.blogspot.com
*Canoe Sailing magazine ... http://canoesailingmagazine.com
*Proa File ... http://proafile.com/
*The Proa FAQ ... http://www.friend.ly.net/~dadadata/proas.html (there's tons of other supercool DIY stuff at this site! ...the home of Craig O'Donnell's Cheap Pages... polytarp sails... junk rigs... )
And here are some neat images from these sites...