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Kaep is a traditional type of double-ended Proa sailboat native to Palau. [1] [2] Some of the essential design elements have also been adopted as a modern smaller multihull prototype variant. [upper-alpha 1]

Proa type of multihull sailboat, vessel consisting of two unequal length parallel hulls (uses reverse-shunting (interchangeable bow/aft):one hull is kept to windward, and the other to leeward, so that it needs to "shunt" to reverse direction when tacking)

A proa refers to various types of multihull outrigger sailboats of the Austronesian peoples. The terms were used for native Austronesian ships in European records during the Colonial Era indiscriminately, and thus can confusingly refer to the double-ended single-outrigger boats of Oceania, the double-outrigger boats of Island Southeast Asia, and sometimes even ships with no outriggers or sails at all.

Sailboat boat propelled partly or entirely by sails

A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture.

Palau republic in Oceania

Palau, officially the Republic of Palau, is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. The country contains approximately 340 islands, forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, and has an area of 466 square kilometers (180 sq mi). The most populous island is Koror. The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Federated States of Micronesia.


Larger context

The Pacific Ocean and particularly Micronesia gave birth to many different forms of simple sailing craft. Sail plan and hull form differ. Sail plans may include lateen, also known as crab-claw or half-crab-claw, Latin, or triangular. Hull formats include catamarans, doubles, proa, and singles. Presence of a beam spanning a double hull is optional. Likewise, hull end forms and shapes vary greatly. Masts for these type of sailboats can be made with one or two poles. The vessels may be made by hollowing out tree trunks, or may be assembled from planking. Other design considerations include the intended use of the vessel, for fishing, sea voyages or war, and whether they are to be used in sheltered lagoons or in the open sea. [2]

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Micronesia Subregion of Oceania

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with two other island regions: Polynesia to the east and Island Melanesia to the south; as well as the wider Austronesian peoples.

Crab claw sail triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges

The crab claw sail or, as it is sometimes known, Oceanic lateen or Oceanic sprit, is a triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges. The crab claw sail is used in many traditional Austronesian cultures, as can be seen by the traditional paraw, proa, lakana, and tepukei.

Additionally, there is an important and fundamental dividing line between two design types. Some vessels "shunt", that is they change course direction by using the opposite pole of a two pole mast then sailing in the opposite direction (the "Pushmi-pullyu" of the sailing world). [2] Others use a tacking rig, a design that is similar to sloop rigged boats found worldwide. [2]

Tacking or coming about is a sailing maneuver by which a sailing vessel, whose desired course is into the wind, turns its bow toward the wind so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side to the other, allowing progress in the desired direction. The opposite maneuver to tacking is called jibing, or wearing on square-rigged ships, that is, turning the stern through the wind. No sailing vessel can move directly upwind, though that may be the desired direction, making this an essential maneuver of a sailing ship. A series of tacking moves, in a zig-zag fashion, is called beating, and allows sailing in the desired direction.

Sloop sail boat with a single mast and a fore-and-aft rig

A sloop is a sailing boat with a single mast typically meaning one headsail in front of the mast, and one mainsail aft of (behind) the mast. This is called a fore-and-aft rig, and is known as a Bermuda rig. Sailboats can be classified according to type of rig, and so a sailboat may be a sloop, catboat, cutter, ketch, yawl, or schooner. A sloop usually has only one headsail, although an exception is the Friendship sloop, which is usually gaff-rigged with a bowsprit and multiple headsails. If the vessel has two or more headsails, the term cutter may be used, especially if the mast is stepped further towards the back of the boat.


Developed in Palau and used for centuries, the kaep was built from tree logs. A keel carved to a knife's edge was combined with a deep bow, giving it the ability to function in severe adverse weather, wind and waves. Sailors would crowd aft, lifting the bow out of the water, and increasing hull speed. It was used to fish, race and trade. [1] It is a very fast craft. [1]

The kaep lacks a rudder. Instead it has a "crab claw" sail, [1] and is further controlled by the skillful use of fore and aft trim moving the boat's balance point, that is the center of resistance relative to the center of effort to control her heading. [1] [3] This is essentially like a wind surfer. See Sail twist.

Rudder device to steer a vehicle

A rudder is a primary control surface used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft, or other conveyance that moves through a fluid medium. On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane. A rudder operates by redirecting the fluid past the hull (watercraft) or fuselage, thus imparting a turning or yawing motion to the craft. In basic form, a rudder is a flat plane or sheet of material attached with hinges to the craft's stern, tail, or after end. Often rudders are shaped so as to minimize hydrodynamic or aerodynamic drag. On simple watercraft, a tiller—essentially, a stick or pole acting as a lever arm—may be attached to the top of the rudder to allow it to be turned by a helmsman. In larger vessels, cables, pushrods, or hydraulics may be used to link rudders to steering wheels. In typical aircraft, the rudder is operated by pedals via mechanical linkages or hydraulics.

Fore-and-aft rig

A fore-and-aft rig is a sailing rig consisting mainly of sails that are set along the line of the keel rather than perpendicular to it. Such sails are described as fore-and-aft rigged.

The center of lateral resistance is the center of pressure of the hydrodynamic forces on the hull of a boat. The center of pressure is the point on a body where the total sum of a pressure field acts, causing a force and no moment about that point. The total force vector acting at the center of pressure is the value of the integrated vectorial pressure field. The resultant force and center of pressure location produce equivalent force and moment on the body as the original pressure field. Pressure fields occur in both static and dynamic fluid mechanics. Specification of the center of pressure, the reference point from which the center of pressure is referenced, and the associated force vector allows the moment generated about any point to be computed by a translation from the reference point to the desired new point.

A traditional kaep is double-ended with a reversible or pivoted (swiveling) mast, so that it can be sailed in either direction. [2] [4]

Mast (sailing) pole of wood, metal or lightweight materials used in the rigging of a sailing vessel to carry or support its sail

The mast of a sailing vessel is a tall spar, or arrangement of spars, erected more or less vertically on the centre-line of a ship or boat. Its purposes include carrying sail, spars, and derricks, and giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp. Large ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship. Nearly all sailing masts are guyed.

A traditional kaep has an average hull 10 m (33 ft) in length, 35 cm (14 in) in width, and maximum height of 90 cm (35 in). [2] [5]

The kaep has been the subject of commemorative postage stamps in Palau. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Multihull ship type

A multihull is a ship or boat with more than one hull, whereas a vessel with a single hull is a monohull.

Sailing Propulsion of a vehicle by wind power

Sailing employs the wind—acting on sails, wingsails or kites—to propel a craft on the surface of the water, on ice (iceboat) or on land over a chosen course, which is often part of a larger plan of navigation.

Sail plan diagram of the masts, spars, rigging, and sails of a sailing vessel

A sail plan is a set of drawings, usually prepared by a naval architect which shows the various combinations of sail proposed for a sailing ship. Alternatively, as a term of art, it refers to the way such vessels are rigged as discussed below.

Catamaran multi-hulled watercraft featuring two parallel hulls of equal size. It is a geometry-stabilized craft, deriving its stability from its wide beam, rather than from a ballasted keel as with a monohull sailboat

A catamaran is a multi-hulled watercraft featuring two parallel hulls of equal size. It is a geometry-stabilized craft, deriving its stability from its wide beam, rather than from a ballasted keel as with a monohull sailboat. Catamaran is from a Tamil word, kattumaram, which means "logs tied together".

Trimaran triple-hulled boat

A trimaran is a multihull boat that comprises a main hull and two smaller outrigger hulls which are attached to the main hull with lateral beams. Most trimarans are sailing yachts designed for recreation or racing; others are ferries or warships.

Outrigger projecting structure on a boat

An outrigger is a projecting structure on a boat, with specific meaning depending on types of vessel. Outriggers may also refer to legs on a wheeled vehicle which are folded out when it needs stabilization, for example on a crane that lifts heavy loads.


A tepukei is a very old Melanesian and Polynesian boat type, produced primarily by the Polynesian-speaking inhabitants of Taumako. It was first reported in print by Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña in 1595, on his visit to the Santa Cruz Islands.

Hobie Cat

The Hobie Cat is a small sailing catamaran manufactured by the Hobie Cat Company. Hobie's line of products ranges from surfboards to catamaran sailboats to kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, though the Hobie Cat Company is most famous around the world for its catamarans. Hobie also designed a very successful monohull, the Hobie 33.

Canoe sailing refers to the practice of fitting an Austronesian outrigger or Western canoe with sails.

A mast-aft rig is a sailboat sail-plan that uses a single mast set in the aft half of the hull. The mast supports fore-sails that may consist of a single jib, multiple staysails, or a crab claw sail. The mainsail is either small or completely absent. Mast-aft rigs are uncommon, but are found on a few custom, and production sailboats.

Hilu outrigger

The Hilu outrigger is a personal size, beach launched sports boat in the sailing canoe style. Hilu was AMF's production version of a boat variety more commonly found in designs hand built by outrigger aficionados. Hilu utilizes fiberglass pontoons and carries a single polyester lateen sail mounted to an un-stayed aluminum mast.

Paraw sail boat type (Philippines)

The paraw is a double outrigger sail boat native to the Visayas region of the Philippines. The paraw is similar to a proa, but the paraw has two outriggers or katig. They characteristically have large crab-claw sails opposite a smaller triangular foresail.

Traditional fishing boat

Traditionally, many different kinds of boats have been used as fishing boats to catch fish in the sea, or on a lake or river. Even today, many traditional fishing boats are still in use. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at the end of 2004, the world fishing fleet consisted of about 4 million vessels, of which 2.7 million were undecked (open) boats. While nearly all decked vessels were mechanised, only one-third of the undecked fishing boats were powered, usually with outboard engines. The remaining 1.8 million boats were traditional craft of various types, operated by sail and oars.

Amatasi are a type of Samoan double outrigger canoe watercraft. Its sails were woven pandanus leaves tied to 2 spars. The hull was sometimes built of planks. Lashed together, large double canoes 30–60 feet long could carry 25 men on journeys of hundreds of miles.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sailing:

Polynesian multihull terminology part of the framework for a sailing vessels outrigger

Polynesian multihull terminology, such as "ama", "aka" and "vaka" are multihull terms that have been have been widely adopted beyond the South Pacific where these terms originated. This Polynesian terminology is in common use in the Americas and the Pacific but is almost unknown in Europe, where the anglo-saxon terms "hull" and "outrigger" form normal parlance. Outriggers, catamarans, and outrigger boats are a common heritage of all Austronesian peoples and predate the Micronesian and Polynesian expansion into the Pacific. They are also the dominant forms of traditional ships in Island Southeast Asian and Malagasy Austronesian cultures, where local terms are used.


Sakman, better known in western sources as flying proas, are traditional sailing outrigger boats of the Chamorro people of the Northern Marianas. They are characterized by a single outrigger and a crab claw sail. They are the largest native sailing ships (ladjak) of the Chamorro people. Followed by the slightly smaller lelek and the medium-sized duding. They are similar to other traditional sailing ships of Micronesia, like the wa, baurua, and the walap. These ships were once used for trade and transportation between islands.



  1. That uses a modified and patented Windsurfer rig. [3]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Smith, Basil (1985). "Palau Racing Canoe" (Painting). Fleetwood® Trains & Boats & Planes & More Collection Description Card. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Louis, Jean. "Pacific islands sailing canoes". webring.com. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "A New Style of Fast Sailing" (PDF). Toulouse, France: Kaep Diffusion Sarl. Retrieved January 18, 2016. The Kaep is a high performance ultra light proa fitted with an easily manageable windsurf rig of 5 sq. mtr.
  4. Blackburn, Graham (November 21, 2002). The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ships and Boats. London: I.B.Tauris. p. 263. ISBN   978-1860648397.
  5. "Kaep Palau". Historiche Proas - Ancient Outriggers (in German). Retrieved January 18, 2016.