Sailboat rigs are a problematic conundrum where VolksCruisers are concerned. For starters, most rigs on classic plastic boats have rigs that have evolved from designs for racing. They’re over-complicated, prone to failure, and expensive, which is not the sort of rig you want when voyaging on a budget.
Adapting rigs to be simpler, more affordable, and less expensive is no simple task, which may cause an extended stay in a room with padded walls. While it can be done, the easier route is where you build a new rig.
While there are many varied rigs to consider, I’ll just mention four.
The various permutations of the lug rig are a good place to start. In particular, I’ll opine that the balanced lug rig is a great voyaging rig. It’s as simple as you can get and uses hardly any hardware. On our Bolger Jessie Cooper, it only needed two lines (halyard and sheet), required no winches and only one block. The sail was powerful, easily pushing Loose Moose above hull speed. Better yet, the entire rig was repairable with materials available anywhere.
Then there’s the junk rig, which is really just a balanced lug with a lot of battens and cordage added to the equation. It’s not as powerful as the balanced lug, but it’s easier to reef, which is the principal attraction for most of the junk aficionados I know.
The gaff rig is more complicated than the various lug rigs, but it’s a simple and powerful low stress rig based on old-tech that has a lot of advantages.
Last, I’ll throw the Simplicity rig into the hat. It’s simple, powerful, and even looks like what people actually expect a modern sailboat rig to look like. It’s what we have on “So It Goes” and it makes sense in the world of evolved rig designs of the simple sort..
The big issue with simple voyaging rigs is that they seldom exist on boats that are for sale. If you want one, you’ll have to build it yourself.
Of course, if you’re like me and cheap, you’ll find the idea of either hassling with the sale of the existing rig or throwing the rig away to be counter-productive to your mental health. Which is why, for me at least, the perfect boat to buy is one unencumbered by rig and rigging.
The thing is, any of the aforementioned rigs are easy to build, won’t cost a lot of money compared to “modern” mast/sails, and they are easier to maintain in the long haul. They’re also less prone to failure, which makes all the difference in the world.