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Rabaul. Rabaul lies on the shore of a large natural
harbour, once the Pearl of the Western Pacific,
now a grey ash heap under the billowing ash
clouds that continuously spew out of the very
active volcano.
We had to circle East and South round the
headland with the volcano, dodging under the
edge of the ash cloud, then we had to head back
North West into the large harbour, dead against
the NW wind. The wind was nice and steady, a
force 3-4, the sea smooth with just small waves,
we were sailing under large mainsail and small
mizzen, an ideal setting for a test of windward
performance.
With compass and GPS I plotted every tack; the
boat sailed at an average of 4.1 knots making
100 degrees between tacks on the compass.
When plotted on the chart the angle between
tacks was 120 degrees, this meant we were
making 10 degrees leeway as I don't think there
was any current. The wind was very steady,
every tack on the same compass course, so
a perfect test. For a boat with just 60cm draft
and no keels or boards, with self-made ethnic
design sails on bamboo spars, I think this was a
remarkable performance and proves that Pacific
double canoes in the past could have sailed to
windward.
On the little pontoon by the yachtclub stood
James and Rudy waving us to the best place to
anchor. Time to go ashore for a cold beer.
  MAY 2009 : MULTIHULL REVIEW  11
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