A blast from the past on junk rig…

A Freedom cat ketch adapted to junk rig

 I wrote this back in 2008 on Boat Bits but it seems to have held up for the most part…

I suppose the minute you say lug rig that everyone assumes you are talking about the “Junk” rig which is certainly a type of lug rig but somewhat outside the mainstream lugs…so we might just get the whole junk rig thing out of the way and as good as any place to start.

Colvin…Hasler…Van Loan..Mcleod important names for Lug nuts as all were big proponents of the junk rig in the early days and for a host of very good reasons you would be safe to follow their lead…The Junk rig certainly makes a lot of sense for a lot of people who sail.

The big thing about the junk rig is of course it is a docile rig… Stress free if you will…Its an easy rig to sail (but a very easy rig to sail badly and it is important to know the difference between the two) and there is a rather steep learning curve if you actually want to get the performance possible with the rig. Make no mistake this is not a Bermudan rig and if you try to sail it like one you will find that it will behave just like all of its detractors say it will…BADLY.

Its also a cheap rig and DIY safe on all levels so building it from mast to sails is well within even the most ham fisted tyros reach! Sounds perfect for folks like me…and did I mention CHEAP?

Of course you hear a lot of bad stuff about junk rigs and almost all of it from people who have never sailed a junk rig and many who have never even seen a junk rig sailing…This is not an unimportant fact when you consider that 95% of the information you receive via word of mouth on things junk is in fact pretty bogus. Luckily we have access to a lot of excellent information from those who really know what they speak of…

Which brings us back to the names Colvin, Hasler, Mcleod, and Van Loan who all were nice enough to sit down and write excellent books on the subject so we would not have to figure it out all by ourselves.

Thomas Colvin has written a slew of books on sailing, cruising and building boats and anything he says you can pretty much take to the bank. Not a man who feels the need to follow the herd or bend to market pressure he is very much the real deal and unlike so many Naval Architects has actually built boats, lived aboard and cruised which in my book puts him way at the front of the herd and when he says something you can take it for granted that it’s based on real experience. Sadly Tom Colvin is no longer with us and a lot of his books are now out of print but I believe are available used if you put in the effort to find them. A visit to Abe’s books might be in order to chase down a copy of “Sailmaking: Making Chinese and other sails : Sailing Chinese Junks and Junk-rigged vessels” .

McLeod / Hasler wrote the most excellent “Practical Junk Rig” which is a thing of beauty almost a Coffee Table book on the subject and again written by a couple of guys who walk the talk and a tome that is needful to anyone considering or sailing the junk rig.

My favorite though is the very simple, Tract like and easily understood “The Chinese Sailing Rig – Design and Build Your Own Junk Rig” by Eric Van Loan which is short and very much to the point. Just what you need if you have a CAL 28 ( or whatever) and decide you want to design and build a junk rig for it that will WORK!

While the Van Loan book is my favorite (I do love simple!) and would be my choice if I were limited to one source, to be honest if you are going to do the Junk rig thing right you really need all three as they together pretty much contain all available information in book form on the rig and it is all needful information.

I should add at this point that there is the excellent Junk Rig Association which which is the best source of cutting edge development in what is trending in junk rig development.

While not really about the junk rig Annie Hills book “Voyaging on a Small Income” just might be the best book to read and get you started on the Junk express as it has a lot of Junk content and gives you a very good view of what sailing with a Junk Rig is all about…Annie Hill shows just what can be done with a simple Benford designed plywood boat called Badger and a junk rig on a budget. If you ever need a good example to throw in the face of someone who is going on about junk rigs being not a viable option just bring out the Badger card …Works every time!

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2 thoughts on “A blast from the past on junk rig…”

  1. We sailed a 25 footer with a Junk rig for two years and all I can say was that it is a boring rig. Sure it's easy to sail but for those of us who like to put up a kite and really push the boundaries its just not that type of rig. Admittedly we did have that day where we covered 50 miles and I decided to show the knockers in the anchorage that Junk can perform. All day I reefed in the squalls then immediately had full sail back up. It was a full on day and the bigger boats beat me but not by a wide margin. Later one of the skippers admitted that I went way quicker than he thought I could.

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