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Bokeelia’s Fred Browne launches his Micronesian proa ‘Joy of the Sea’

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Aug 26, 2020

Fred Browne’s “Joy of the Sea.” PHOTO PROVIDED

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

Last Wednesday, Fred Browne waited patiently for high tide to put his 18-foot baby, the “Joy of the Sea,” in the water for her first trip, after roughly a year of building his proa outrigger. Although he said he’s built a couple of other small boats, building a proa is something he’s been dreaming of for some time.

“I thought it would be the ideal boat for these waters,” said Browne, speaking of Pine Island Sound.

Browne explained the design’s evolution came about over thousands of years, describing the a-symmetric hull, for which proas are known, which is purposefully different on each side, in that one side is flat, while the other is boat-shaped.

“Normally with a sailboat you’d tack, to work the weight against the wind,” said Browne, “but with this boat it’s called shunting and you move the sail from one end of the boat to the other.”

Although Pine Island Sound is home to Browne and his new proa, years ago he said he sailed around Boston Harbor, as sailing is nothing new to him. While he admits the island is a wonderful place to enjoy a hobby such a boating, he said sometimes there isn’t quite enough water. Fortunately, he said, the drag on his new outrigger is only about a foot.

“The long anticipated launch went smoothly,” said Browne. “Nearly anticlimactic after such a long project.”