When to go

If you consider visiting Sri Lanka to sail the oruwa you need to realise that the best sailing months on the island are between mid October and mid April. The monsoon starts in mid May and lasts until October and during that time the winds are generally too strong for the oru fishermen to go out.

,The timing for the tacking would have to be perfect´

The Last Sailors, Neil Hollander and Harald Mertes, 1984

,,We sat on a bamboo platform lashed between the two outrigger booms and watched Stanley, the captain of the oruwa, prepare to come about. He loosened a bit of frayed line that held the steering oar in place, then nodded to his father, who was at the other end of the dugout.

The canoe was cutting across the seas at more than eight knots so the timing would have to be perfect. The slightest error would leave us windless and ready to broach to on the next big wave. ,,Arul Marukaramu (Ready about)!, Stanley shouted. The two crew quickly passed the sheets and the sail through the V of the two masts, and at the same moment, Stanley raised his steering oar and his father lowered his, then secured the sheets.

The oruwa neither gybed nor came up into the wind. It simply lost way, stopped, bobbed in the waves for a few seconds, then the wind caught the sail and it begon to move in the opposite direction. The tack of the sail had become the clew, and the clew, the tack, and, of course, the stern was now the bow, and the bow, the stern.´´