The Chinese junk rig has been in use for thousands of yeas in China, on their river, coastal andocean trading vessels.
A much-simplified version of the Chinese junk has been in use for many years now in the west.
Developed by Colonel H.G. (Blondie) Hasler of Cockle Shell Heroes fame it has only been adopted by a few.
Some people still
laugh at it. I
must admit that I used to be one of them.
Much of this is fueled by and maintained by the boat industry.
Like the car industry, they are reluctant to innovate just in
product doesn't sell.
Therefore, they have created this obsession with windward performance.
Yet the Chinese junk is no worse than gaff rig.
Moreover, most Bermudan rigged boat owners motor to windward anyway.
Lack of windward performance seems a poor argument against an otherwise excellent rig.
This is the near ideal rig for short-handed comfortable ocean cruising.
Reefing couldn't be simpler all one has to do is let go the halyard.
There is no need to round up.
No bouncing about on the fore deck in a howling gale having left it too late to reef down.
All can be worked from the cockpit. Moreover, there are no worries about roller reefing going wrong.
Yet there are many bits of string for the geeky types to play with.
Low aspect means less heeling. It is self-tacking, self-stowing and is reefed in seconds.
The sail doesn't flog or flap it just weathercocks.
In its basic form the Junk Sail is so low tec. that one can, as I have done, build it ones self.
Thus its' other attraction, cheapness.
Having built it ones self it is easy and cheap to repair wherever you are.
There is no need for specialist equipment or expensive 'experts'.
When I bought Mignonne, her original mast had been used for many years to support a heavy tarpaulin.
Un-stepped and laid along the deck, not only had it become warped but it also had also several deep shakes running up it.
There was also some rot, which, meant that it was not worth putting back up.
I came across an article in PBO about junk rig shortly after starting work on Mignonne.
Then I met Robin Blain with the Junk Rig Association
stand while on an outing to Beuleau boat jumble. Fortunately, this was while I was still working on the hull so no work had been done on the deck
By the .time, I got around to looking at the decks I had found out enough about the rig to decide to adopt it.
I then re-designed the fore deck to take an un-stayed mast, with the help of a copy of H. G. Hasler, J. K. McLeod's book Practical Junk Rig plus lots of information from the JRA.
By the time, I was ready to step a mast I had acquired a Telegraph pole for free.
It had been taken down to make room for a new building so it was in excellent condition and was well seasoned and soaked in preservative.
Planed and shaped, and with a truck added all it need were fittings.
These I was able to buy from boat jumbles and modify to suit.
The flat panels of lightweight cloth were simple to sew on my trusty old sewing machine.
I made each unsupported area of cloth as a separate panel.
The tan areas I cut from an old set of Bermudan sails the contrasting yellow panels are of lightweight cloth, which I had to buy.
I'm hoping that the gaps between the panels will increase the turbulence on the leeward side of the sail.
The 'experts' seem to believe that like the bumblebee the junk rig uses the turbulence rather than laminar flow to give it lift.
Because of this sailing, the Chinese junk rig requires one to unlearn almost everything that has been learned with other rigs.
Because of the balance, there is no luffing action so the rig never stops sailing and the leading edge of the sail tells one nothing of significance.
I'm still trying to get to figure out how to get the most from it.
On my trip from Milford to Chepstow I was gratified to find that she would sail herself for most of the journey with the tiller lashed.
This meant that I could keep watch and catnap at the chart table.
On one of my first outings with Mignonne when I didn't even have the rig, set up any way near properly,
I had the great satisfaction in out running a larger, plastic boat, Bermudan rigged, sailing under a huge Genoa. While he was having trouble keeping the sail full due to the fluky winds, I just had to hold my course the batons taking care of the set of the sail. Yes!!
By the end of this next season, I should be able to comment on more fully on my Chinese junk rig's handling, I hope.
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