Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

(Malayan prau), in the Malay language the term for all types of ship or vessel, from sampan to kapal. The South Pacific proa, which probably originates from Indonesia, has an outrigger and is identical at both ends. It has a unique rig in that the crew, when tacking, reverse the sail so that, on completing the manoeuvre, the bow becomes the stern with the outrigger remaining on the windward side. The steering device, of course, then has to be moved from the old ‘stern’ to the new one. The proa's lateen sail is, to western eyes, upside down, the wide base of the triangle being more or less level with the top of the mast, the apex of the triangle being secured to the bow. The hulls of some proas are just hollowed-out logs; more elaborate ones have their planks sewn edge to edge, a form of carvel construction; the biggest are quite capable of sailing long distances between islands.

See also canoe; Lewis, David.

See also canoe; Lewis, David.

The course of a proa tacking

Subjects: Maritime History.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.