Some required reading…

The popularity of the Bermuda rig has caused a general lack of knowledge on most other rigs and how to rig them. Luckily for us a few books are all you need to sort out that problem.

Phil Bolger’s “103 Sailing Rigs” talks a lot about various rigs and their variations in a common sense manner and well worth reading. It certainly opened my eyes where rigs are concerned.

For me Derek Van Loan’s “The Chinese Sailing Rig” is the best book (Booklet?) going for converting a Bermudan rigged sailboat into a Junk rig. It’s simple, clear, and it’s brevity make for an easy to follow “cookbook” that makes conversion dead simple. Detractors of the book will argue that it is dated and does not include current thinking in sail design and construction but that is easily found on the JRA website but the basic conversion info is exactly what you need for a successful conversion.


Hasler and McLeod’s “Practical Junk Rig” is an excellent tome on the junk rig and there is a lot of needful information. That said, it’s a hard read (for me at least) and you really have to dig for that needful content. That said, it is a book you want but for starters the Van Loan book is the way to go to get started. 

It’s also expensive (the Kindle version is $47.49 which is akin to piracy) so you’ll want to keep an eye out for a used copy.

John Leather’s “Spritsails & Lugsails” really needs to be on any Lug Nut’s bookshelf. Sadly, most folk these days look at Sprits and Lugs as some sort of dinghy sail only and miss the fact entirely that they are powerful rigs that would make a lot of sense for boats in the VolksCruiser size range.

“The Gaff Rig Handbook” by John Leather is the bible for devotees of the Gaff rig and well worth a space on your book shelf. The gaff rig has a lot going for it and, mostly, suffers from the fact that most Gaff rig folks are unwilling to bring an excellent rig into the current century.

More on the practical side “Hand, Reef, and Steer” by Tom Cunliffe is the one book I’d choose if I was limited to a single gaff rig boat. Cunliffe is always an enjoyable read and has walked the talk more than most.

“The Rigger’s Apprentice” by the late Brion Toss is a book that changed my life in the way I look at boat systems. It contains everything you need to know about sailboat rigging and makes all the rigging jobs you might encounter doable.

All of these books went a long way to color my thinking of what sailing rigs should be. Sure, I have a few issues with a few bits of the various author’s opinions but in whole they’re mostly spot on and needful if you’re thinking of adapting a Bermudan rig to junk, lug, or gaff.

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