Proa "Madness" Launched

The yellow beast slid into the water yesterday, a design that started as a Polynesian sailing canoe and ended up as a shiny fast Westernized sailing machine.  Rig details remain unfinished, alas;  I need to paint the mast and sort out a tangle of running rigging.  Sailing in a week, or bust---the boat's going into the Annapolis Sailboat Show so it has to be done.

Needing help to launch, I announced a launch party for Saturday, establishing a hard date for completion.  The boat has been sitting since July, shining like a bright penny, unsullied by a single bit of hardware, while I did paying work.

Geoff Kerr offered to drive down and pitch in for the last week of pre-launch push. Seven valiant 14-hour days later, with underwhelming help from myself, Geoff had sorted out and attached enough bits and pieces that we were plausibly ready for launch.  (Notice whose hands aren't busy below.)

We assembled the boat in the CLC parking lot to figure out all of the hardware.

We did eventually get the mast up for shroud measurements, between heavy rain showers.  Actually, the Friday before the launch it rained anvils and church bells.  A tent erected over the assembly in the CLC parking lot collapsed several times.  It was NOT FUN mounting hardware in the pouring rain.

The rain parted on Saturday morning in time for a dangerously long list of last-minute rigging and set-up work. With just hours to go, Geoff and his daughter Glynna starting fitting the Spectra trampoline.

The assembled launch partiers helped stretch the tramp into place.  I experimented with PVC tubes to line the edges of the tramp, an experiment which in the youth argot would be termed an "epic fail."  The PVC wasn't stiff enough to tame the tough Spectra and an hour or two after launch we were already re-rigging it.

The outboard sled was mounted, here having its hoisting tackle rove by John Pollard, another guardian angel who seems to appear whenever I have a big, late project.  The tide was by now 30 minutes past its peak....

The dean of multihulls, Jim Brown (right), was in attendance with Andy Zimmerman (left).  It was amazing to have Jim and Andy on hand for the launch.

Bill McIntyre, also no stranger to crazy-big-hectic-overdue John Harris projects, touches up the bottom paint.

The graphics were stuck on almost as the boat was sliding into the water.

Kerry Harris, eight months pregnant, christened the boat "Madness."

Launching off the trailer on the river bank wasn't great.  Next time, simple rollers.  Geoff, Glynna, Austin, Steve, Steve, and Jim all plunged through the marsh, being astonishing good sports about the poison ivy lurking around the perimeter, and the depth of the mud.  The heavy rain had turned the water extra-soupy, too.

The boat floated on its lines, so John knocks back a few.  Actually, with four adults aboard there's a lot of bottom paint showing! The trampoline still looks heinous.  Patience; it'll be Bristol-fashion soon.  Clockwise from the Heineken bottle:  Myself, Geoff Kerr, Austin Johntra, Nick Schade.

The cake made by Matt Cave's girlfriend, Caroline, was one of many high points throughout the day.  Served, of course, on a sheet of BS1088 okoume marine plywood.

Geoff Kerr, who endured with grace and good humor so many indignities this week (from carbon fiber shards in his skin to the muddy launch), suggested we go for an evening paddle on the calm Wye River.

And so we did.  Like an old Polynesian canoe, it paddled pretty well...

Another dispatch once the rig is stepped.

8 replies:

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RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

So it seems that the "peanut gallery" aren't the only ones troubled by posting pics.

Congratulations, John. When you get the pics straightened out, don't forget the "Praying Madness"




RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

John, what an awesome project.  Thank you and your team for all excitement.  What I like most is the wonderful launch ramp.

RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

Congratulation, Post a video of her sailing. She looks great.

Christine DeMerchant

RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

It's complete Madness! Even before it's rigged, she looks fast. Umm... should you ever find yourself in the water, will it be easy to get back on board? We're really looking forward to seeing Madness under sail.


RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

Nice blurb in Wooden Boat John! (page 42)

RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

I wonder how many amateur hours would be needed to make one. How many professional hours went into the first hull?



RE: Proa "Madness" Launched

Dear John,

I love the concept of Proas, I followed Madness from inception. The design is clearly very fast, you did not involve Brown to build a slow Proa!.  You've got to give it a chance, Race to Bermuda, Take it out in good strong wind, even 15-20 knots would be good, 25-30 knots would  be better. Cruise for long distances. This baby needs some stress testing! Experience the thrill of FAST. I want to SEE it in action. Take your own pics and videos, you don't need others to do this!!!

This is ridiculous and a very disappointing "shoot" .  I expect some vidoes like Browns"s Jerro videos which are awesome.  Take her out in the spring and fall (heavy wind)  for long trips and enjoy her. Give her a chance! Otherwise let someone else buy her and use her as she should be used!  (but get some good photos and videos as a requirement !!!!!)  This baby will fly! I know it.

Best, Rick

PS: I've never sailed a Proa, period. I went to New Zealand, current home of the America's Cup Champs, to hopefully sail a proa, any proa. They are not common although some exist. I would like to sail Madness in 23-30 knots. It would be an exhilarating experience, I know it. You've designed and build a great boat. I like FAST. and I like Proa's . This one is directly in the line of Russel Brown's  Jzerro  If you need crew, let me know!

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