La Trinité – it’s a small hamlet of 12,000 inhabitants on the northeast coast of Martinique, where the coast is scattered with small, low-lying islets protected by a barrier reef called a ‘Caye’, making navigation dangerous and difficult.
Only the initiated few, passionate for nature, take the risk. In the bay at Trinity, there is an anchorage in front of the sailing school, and a small beach called the ‘Raisinier’. The school’s training boats, the Yoles, and the fishing boats, as well as the occasional yacht, anchor there along with another boat that has been there for several years and is really very original. In the Caribbean, one is not used to seeing such a boat – it is the PROA.
We met the boat’s owner, creator and builder, the passionate Jeremy and ‘Equilibre’ (balance), the name of his pretty Proa. When Jeremy was young, his father had owned one, he relates, and as soon as he was old enough he wanted to build himself one, with his father and three friends. Thus, plans were conceived.
In his parents’ garden at Tartane, a mysterious bird began to take shape, carrying on one side a large floating hull and on the other, a small outrigger with a small cockpit and bamboo mast in the center. It was built in Cp epoxy, and took five months.
The Proa is a multihull made up of a canoe and outrigger based on a Polynesian design. Generally, the larger hull is kept to windward, with the stern becoming the bow and vice versa after each tack.
It measures 11.70M long and 6M wide, with a unique ‘Crab Pincer’ sail which makes it original and serves to steer the boat. The mast is articulated and works as a rudder. Two floats close out the boat: the larger float leading forwards or backwards depending on the sail direction, and the smaller one providing balance. The speed comes entirely from wind – there is no motor and it is necessary to paddle into ports.
Jeremy’s dream is to leave the anchorage off Raisinier at La Trinité for the conquest of the other Caribbean islands. Jeremy, his wife, and his 10-year-old daughter, Moon, are actively making preparations. The Proa ‘bird’ will shortly be taking flight and we wait to see it in the bay with its beautiful sail deployed.