windward ability of Pacific cats and proas

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Gary Baigent, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    I have read a number of books relating to Pacific outriggers and double canoes and most of them refer to (in my view) a very average 75 degree windward performance. Seeing that the colonization of the Pacific was done first, by intrepid explorers sailing west to east, beating first, then if successful, or unsuccessful, returning home downwind with the south east trades. Beat out, reach and run back, the safest way to explore and now accepted as the method in which the Pacific was discovered. Andrew Sharp's somewhat racist view of hit and miss drift voyaging has now been discounted. My question: I do not believe some of the best proa designs, those nautical works of art like those from the Carolines, Solomons, Palau, Marinas, Fiji and others, would sail that poorly to weather. You are dealing with sailing athletes here who spent years of their lives at sea - I am sure these skilled, bright people would have figured out good leeboard/paddle design and efficient rig design and control, to better this figure of 75 degrees generally accepted by academics. Your thoughts?
     
  2. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    WHAT FOR, the cruising idea is to "go with the flow" - - - If you must then the consideration is USEFUL VMG - - - which is the comparative velocity made good to windward.... If you want to sail directly into the wind, there are threads that deal with that and Rick Willoughby can help you there....

    Check the seasonal prevailing breezes and most can be reached by comfortable sailing according to the season.... If your holiday season is tight then fly a jet plane to your destination and charter, or quit the job and go cruising....

    The early vouagers sailed in comfort going with the flow - - they carried food, livestock, family and planting stock and tools to establish bases as they went. - - - (They were smart not hyped up ********* that put up with un-necessary discomfort to "matchrace for ************ rites".)
     
  3. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Masa,

    I'm not a Pacific Islander, but I have been to Hawaii numerouos times to surf and other activities. It seems to me that the prevailing winds either blow your way, seasonally, or they do not. Certain islands do get what one would comfortably refer to as Trades and they do blow with some measure of consistency. I do not, however, believe that there were not some very strong elemental components of the Polynesian peoples who did not set sail in less then sleigh ride conditions.

    These are very sturdy peoples with a strong, warring cultural capacity. I will not buy that there were not some of the nation who would not be sent forth into very difficult scenarios, in order to cultivate and conquer opposing nations, much less find uninhabited islands.

    I played football (American) with a very seriously traditonal group of Samoans and if you told them that something was too difficult for them to accomplish, it was like laying fresh meat before a lion. They are warriors, through and through and enjoy challenges. They rise like those lions to the difficulties before them, if only to prove that it is possible. I guess that it's clear that I have a deep admiration for their potential.

    I have no doubt that these peoples could have voyaged long distances against the wind, if only to prove their Chief to be wrong and to assume the entitlements of their ancestors.

    Chris Ostlind
    Deeply appreciative of the Polynesian culture
     
  4. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    True, but I fail to find records of any return trip, which would surely have made it into the local legends, "dreaming" stories or such - around the equatorial region monsoons or prevailing trades could facilitate an east-west of vice versa passage and also N/S or S/n voyaging but the direction is / seems easier from NE to SW and with no need or desire to return?

    The voyaging canoes still "compete" annually at Port Moresby, in an effort to keep the traditions of trading voyages alive... I have also seen some other voyaging canoes (melanesian region) and their traditions and navigation skills are astounding but seem mostly lost now....

    Long voyages are usually one way affairs and a return voyage would have been relatively short for trade or a fight 1 to 2 days out and similar to return. - - - I would guess at less than 28 days (a moon) absence.
     
  5. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    going against the flow

    Masala, here are a couple of early Westerner quotes for you. the second is of relevance referring to Pacific designs sailing to windward:
    Bougainville wrote, “Though we ran at seven or eight knots, yet the pirogues (canoes) sailed round us as if we were at anchor.”
    And a passenger on an English ship beating into a strong Gilbert Island (Kiribati) current noted, “It took us nine days to cover the distance yet several Gilbert canoes, one of them 70 feet long, beat up in only one night.”
     
  6. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    I am not and don't think I have ever said that they cannot get to windward quick smart, as with my earlier post IT IS ALL ABOUT VMG not how high one can point into the wind.... an easy exercise on a piece of graph paper select one corner of the page and set your compases to 6 and 12, then from that same corner draw a line at 30 degrees then measure the same distance where it crosses the "6" line across to the 12 line, measure that angle back to the same corner, so if a boat travelling above that angle at 12 knots will ALWAYS beat another travelline higher at 6 knots.... All toooooo easy.... No contest....
     
  7. bill broome
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    bill broome Senior Member

    wharram has gone to great length to claim inspiration from pacific cats in all his designs. his finless deep vee bottom hulls will make good 100-120 degree tacks, depending on individual boat and conditions. polynesian cats will not be this good, hulls being round and sails significantly less effective.

    i am inclined to think the long haul colonizing voyages were driven by necessity, often fatal, and more a testament to courage and skill than any amazing ability of the boats. always remembering of course, that european ships of the time couldn't match these boats upwind.

    incidently, the proas of gilbert and solomon islands were apparently vastly superior to polynesian catamarans upwind, because the lee side could be near flat. that's no longer a good reason to build a proa, but at the time they were the long-haul boat de choice.
     
  8. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    high pointing, fast proas?

    Wharram cats are V shaped hull cats - but they are not like the double canoes used for voyaging, which as you say Bill, are/were round bottomed - but I am not really talking about these voyaging ships used for colonizing (although with deep blade paddle, lee boards they could probably go 75 degrees to windward in a decent wind) but my emphasis is on what the "avant garde" explorer/adventurers types who I would imagine, went out to see what was out there and then returned with information - and I believe they sailed on fast proas with small crews - and these boats, surely, must have been able to improve on 75 degrees. And I'm not talking about pinching along Masalai, pointing high and going slow.
    This is surmising on my part with absolutely no evidence to back it up. But as an analogy, if you think of today's Polynesian athletes and their attitudes, say in rugby league for example, can you imagine these highly skilled, natural athletes plodding off in an overloaded double canoe. These blokes would be macho types who would want V8's - in this case, the fastest, most efficient proas large enough to survive at sea for some weeks. People don't change. Yes, I realize I'm on very dangerous trampoline material here, but what the hell.
     
  9. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    Stop pontificating and go sail one. Have on built by an old-timer who knows before they are too old to build/pass on the knowledge. As a kid I had a "Solomon Islands mon" or that is what the museum and other experts told us... it had NO outrigger and was originally about 18 ft long - It was a paddleing not a sailing canoe, and had 'seats' (places to fit a bit of flat plank), for 5, which I would suggest was for calmer waters. The "mons" were also made up to 40 ft long but still paddle power (fishing and ?)

    Their long slender hulls were also paired by lashing (as per the wharram style) and were quite nifty with pandanus mat "crab-claw" like sail shape. I have not sailed one but have observed them in action... Most of the hulls were not wide and round in section with a nipple along the keel length. (a 40 footer whoud have a "keel section 2" deep and 2" wide which also served as a beaching/rubbing strake when coming to shore)

    Because of the relative low freeboard punching into the wind/waves was not really a good choice so by easing a bit the ride was easier and good vmg was maintained... Do you understand yet? it is all about VMG, that is VMG which is an acronym VMG = Velocity Made Good (to windward) capich?
     
  10. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    best course to windward

    Masalai, you grumpy old turkey, I know what VMG is - you still don't understand what I'm saying, do you? I'm questioning the efficiency of a Pacific proa's windward ability as accepted by academic scholars, of not being able to sail closer to the wind than 75 degrees - that can mean either sailing high (relatively speaking) at best VMG or sailing free for best VMG, depending on what is best course achieved from the design configuration of the craft - and in this case, I believe 75 degrees could be bettered by an asymmetrically hulled Pacific proa with a clean crab claw or Pacific lateen rig. True I have not sailed a proa, but neither have you, but I have sailed many multihulls and I know what is the best course to windward for each type I've helmed. You do realize that some wing mast rigged multihulls can point high and yet maintain a high speed. And I'm talking of 14-15 knots to windward with the boat on the thin edge just below stalling the rig out - it is point of sail that cannot be improved upon, certainly not by reaching off at higher speed at a lower angle and fooling yourself that sailing free has better VMG.
     
  11. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    OK, this grumpy old ******* knows that, but my point is, what counts is, not higher pointing capacity at 1 or 2 knots, but the ability to make effective ground (water) to windward.... :D Australia11 or whatever tha winged keel AC winner was called was designed to point high, but my guess is that a 14 ft hobie cat could get to windward quicker with no centreboard or keel..... The technical differences are not relevant in real life it is what the boat can do driven properly (according to design criteria)....

    Made a point from a practical understanding - Bless you all...
     
  12. garydierking
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    garydierking Senior Member

    Proa windward ability

    Here's a link to a report by Dennis Alessio, a professional boatbuilder who lived for many years in the Marshall Islands:
    http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/garyd/walap.html
    Also you can visit my fleet of proas in Coromandel anytime.

    Gary
     
  13. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    proa windward performance

    Yes, excellent stuff Gary D - actually I've read this before on your site and is one of the reasons I asked this windward sailing question. I'll sail over your way this summer to have a look at your fleet, maybe a sail too, perhaps?
     
  14. BigCat
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    BigCat Junior Member

    There were lots of pointy bottomed sailing canoes in Oceania. I saw a number of small ones in the 70s, sailing across the Pacific. A round bottom canoe would be a paddling canoe, for rivers and protected waters, not a sailing canoe. See: http://www.janesoceania.com/oceania_voyaging/index.htm
     

  15. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    Yes, quite right, Big cat, but most of their double canoes were round bottomed (I count 7 Pacific Island rounds to 2 pointed hull designs) and relied on long steering oars as foils to go upwind - but as you say, the Tahitian and the Tuamotu cats were pointed in hull cross section - and probably were not bad windward performers.
     
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