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Du prelart


New member
15 Mar 2007
Paris France
The prelart is normally written with an accent on the "e" but I don't want to spread insanities on your un... screens.
It is square of heavy waterproof cloth, normally with eyes all around.
It was commonly used, a few centuries ago.
At that time, we used to practice naval fighting (British against French most of the time) with wooden boats.
It was used to limit the water flow induced by the holes in the hull made by the forbs British bullets....

I've reed quite a lot of stories of modern boat sinking slowly and gently, sometime in fear weather. The crew would just wait for the water to raise before climbing in the life raft.

A way to keep the water outside the hull is to pull a "prelart", any sail would work, from the outside of the hull to the place the water in coming in. The cloth will be sucked by depression and will reduce drastically the water flow.

I tried it once on my 18ft boat while I sailed in a rock. I will not make a fool of myself while saying how and why! The plywood was open on 2 meters just next to the keel . On such a small boat it's quite a lot.
The Optimist sail "prelart" filled the gap and I succeed in sailing back half a mile to the harbour and waiting for the crane. I could easily keep the boat floating with my bucket. (At that time it was yellow one!)

This technique seams to have been forgotten. It's a pity because it is easy, cheap, very efficient and effective for any damage to the hull or the desk.

Once the water flow is limited the situation is almost under control.
I hope that nobody will have to use it!


New member
12 Mar 2007
Good point, Eric. In English it's called a 'fother' (no accent), used for 'fothering' a hole in the ship. The British navy of course did not have to use them very often during the Napoleonic Wars...

Always worth having something on board that will serve, although if the water ingress is in line with a deep keel it could be difficult to position properly. (They worked better on the more round-bottomed ships of old.) The system is to drop a weighted line attached to one corner of the fother over the bow then work it aft under the boat until in line with the hole, then haul the fother athwartships, controlling the back end with (usually) the two other lines attached to the other two corners, until it's in position over the hole. Then lash the three lines to hold it on place. Et voila!

I doubt whether it would be quite so straightforward in practice but could still make a vital difference.


Well-known member
18 Mar 2007
Tristan Jones describes this in his book on singlehanded sailing. Think he called it a Jonah line and advised to have it permanently rigged. BTW the book is well worth it even though the author clearly wrote it to make a buck so you'll have to take it with a grain of salt.
What happened to the Simpson gear? Used to be an umbrella-like device that you'd to poke through the hole from the inside, open up and press against the hull.


Well-known member
6 May 2005
up on the moors.
A wooden RORC boat I was on in the late 60's managed to fall off a bigwave in a F9 off the Harwich rolling and pitching grounds. We fell sideways and the garboard strakes split, letting in quite a lot of water in a short time.

The skipper dropped the genny, and we unhanked the sail, leaving it attached at the tack and the clew. The head was dragged under the boat, and the sail succeeeed in reducing hte flow, until we fell off another wave, and planks re-aligned themselves a bit.

We made it into Harwich pumping furiously.

In the height of the action, a man in a grey suit appeared on the pushpit, and said, quite clearly and slowly, "Don't wory, you will all be OK." and then disappeared. Honestly !


Active member
20 Sep 2006
In the height of the action, a man in a grey suit appeared on the pushpit, and said, quite clearly and slowly, "Don't wory, you will all be OK." and then disappeared. Honestly !

[/ QUOTE ]

You didnt get his mobile/mmsi/satphone number did you ?. We may all want to call him up at some stage of the voyage /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif