Chinese Junk Rig

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Wynand N, Nov 25, 2004.

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  1. Wynand N
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    Wynand N Retired Steelboatbuilder

    Beau and Brent, thanks clearing the Junk issue in a straight and factual manner.:cool:
  2. Brent Swain
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Brent Swain Member

    I remember Moitessier describing his junks he used to sail in SE asia. He told me they used to go down to the market place at the end of a day and pick up the straw mats that the merchants put their stuff on, and start sewing. In a day they had a set of sails made up from straw mats. They would last a week, then it was down to the market to start again. Thus they could keep sailing with very little money . It was these primitive materials as the only ones available which gave rise to junk rigs. No such justification exists today , when the market is awash with cheap used marconi sails in excellent condition, for a fraction the cost of materials..
  3. Tad
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Tad Boat Designer

    It is good to know that Jester, a Folkboat rigged with a single Chinese "Junk" Lug sail of 240 square feet could not have beaten two different sloop rigged Folkboats in two races of 3000 miles to windward. Surely the rig would have worn out or fallen down in such a test? :D

    The standard Folkboat sloop rig is 262 square feet and has the option of larger headsails....another advantage over the "Junk". But Jester landed in New York 15 days before Val Howells (Eira) in 1960. Four years later they (Hasler and Jester) did it again.....beating Bob Bunker (Vanda Caelea) by 12 days.

    In 1972 Ron Glas, a 47' two masted "Junk" schooner finished 24th in a fleet of 40 yachts (almost all Marconi rigged sloops) in the same 3000 mile windward race........but that couldn't's Junk..... ;)

    I'm afraid these results might indicate that the type of rig is only one factor in getting from A to B in a sailing vessel.
  4. Brent Swain
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    Brent Swain Member

    I've been told of owners of small planes tieing 2X4s across the top of the wings to eliminate lift, so that a strong wind won't flip them. A junk sail is like a wing with a 2x4 near the leading edge. No lift.
    The Atlantic is nowhere near 3,000 miles accross at it's nothern point.
    A lot of winning a race is being in the right spot at the right time. If a junk rig is the answer to winning a transatlantic race, then all anyone would have had to do since was use a junk rig, yet it is never done today.
    Easy reefing before the advent of good roller furlers and reefing sytems was unavailable at the time, probably a big advatage for Hasler, far less of an advantage today. Reading Hiscocks books, It's amazing the crudeness of reefing systems at the time.
    3,000 miles is no test of the resistance to chaffing or reliability of anything today . It's a mere puddle jump.
  5. pfridays
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: virginia, usa

    pfridays Suzywiz

    I'm a fan

    I built a Bruce Roberts 26 (fin keel) in the late 70's and sent off to England for Haslar's & McCleod's (sp?) ' Design your own Junk Rig sail plan' instructions. I followed the instructions precisely as to Center of Effort on the sail vs. center of gravity and of effort on the hull etc. I designed and built my own version of what a rudder should be using NACA chord profiles.
    The boat sails like a dream, a little weather helm, turns on a dime with no hassle of a foresail, carrys 318 sq. ft. of sail and tachs through 90 degrees with the best of them. Is it quite as fast? but I'm not a racer and it is close enough. One of the posters mentioned that he could reef his 31 footer in a minute..but can his 10 year old do it when the sail has alot of pressure on it and a strong gust blows up while he's in the Head? With a Junk when you let the halyard out it spills the wind and reefs. Pull in the main and keep on sailing. I think it is a strong safety factor and all the talk about overwhelming wear and tear from the chaffing is not my experience at all. With the fully battened sail you can also keep right on sailing if you rip a sail. If your boat doesn't point well (i.e. most of Colvins designs) you can always add a foresail (I have not).
    For a cruising boat it is my preference and I've sailed all sorts of rigs in my day. Different strokes for different folks.
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  6. gggGuest
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    gggGuest ...

    Something that's easily forgotten about traditional rigs was that in many, perhaps even most times and places going upwind was not a priority, and having to go upwind against tide was a demonstration of poor seamanship - a good seaman just wouldn't need to do it: they'd plan their voyage, trip out to the fishing grounds, whatever, for when tide and wind suited or take the direction that tide and wind suited.

    On the other hand modern western recreational craft, racing or day cruising, do not want or are unable to accept limitations of upwind performance, and the priorities tend to be very different. Horses for courses.

    The drawback of the traditional rigs was of course the harvest of drowned sailors on the comparitively rare occasions a gale caught them on a lee shore and they couldn't get upwind to escape.

    A junk rig is pretty poor at going upwind because a competent seaman doing the tasks those boats were rigged for didn't need it to be good upwind. In the early days of transatlantic racing the same applied. However if you will get hell from the wife if the family isn't back home in time for supper, and can only go out after lunch then you need to accept the wind and tide as it is, and had better be able to get upwind against tide...
  7. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

  8. brian eiland
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    Location: St Augustine Fl, Thailand

    brian eiland Senior Member

  9. Brent Swain
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    Brent Swain Member

    I don' thave any ten year olds or any other kids( not that I'm aware of)
    I singlehand . However, I doubt that letting the wind out of a sail before reefing is illegal for those of us who don't own junk rigs. I doubt if a ten year old would have any trouble with a good winch reefing my main or furling a jib, after the wind has been let out of it.
    Same game, lower the halyard, pull in the reefing line, then hoist the halyard again. Dosen't get much simpler
    How would you get to BC from Tonga without going to windward, or via Japan? The first 4,000 miles is hard on the wind. If I'd had a a junk rig , going via Japan would be the only option, a hell of a comprimise just to save a half a minute reefing. I've never had a yen to go to Japan.
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  10. capngeoff
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    capngeoff New Member

    JUNK RIG! Not so bad as some say, not so great as some say.

    Ahoy you guys, really enjoying the debate; although I just got aboard and read these posts today.

    Funny things, opinions: they are usually intensely personal, and should be seen as express it all, me hearties!
    It is just great to read such honest opinions in these forums.
    One can learn so much, but to the earnest enquirer requesting guidance on which way to go re sail / rig design , reading such polarised dissertation as displayed herein may confuse, to say the least!:confused:

    So here's my tuppence-worth, or nickel n dime's:-

    1) Sure; Junk rig is complex to rig initially-there are loads of bits of string and bamboos to attach!:(
    It is also a MUCH heavier SAIL than a Marconi, areas being equal!:mad:
    BUT proper Junk masts are unstayed, so there are NO huge lengths of shrouds or standing rigging, cross-trees, backstays, bottlescrews, deck fixings, chainplates or other highly stressed metalwork, with its attendant weight & complexity, as with Marconis. :D
    So, Junk Rig is really NOT all that heavy in total..and stress is low.

    2) Junk rig sails' SHEETS usually end in one rope, but there are LOADS of counter-sheets - usually attached to every batten at or near the leech. This produces a right old cat's cradle sometimes!:rolleyes: This can be a real pain. There's extra little blocks too....up there hanging off the leech.
    BUT you do not need to use a monstrous winch to control the sail like on normal Marconis, nor must one hammer it in until flat midships like some tortured slave on a rack! :p
    Junk sheeting is a doddle....saves lotsa human energy.

    3) Junk sails are so EASY to reef without altering course-you just let ONE rope ( the halyard) out a bit, and down she comes, easy as pie. Lazyjacks contain the sail neat and sweet. There is no drama, even in a blow and rough seas.
    Most Marconi rigs I have sailed cannot perform such reefing without first facing into the wind, and usually altering course.:(

    4) Junk sails are CHEAP and easy to build from almost anything. Not all sailors have deep pockets.;)
    I have NEVER ripped a junk sail in normal use. No serious chafe either. Some boatyard - damage tears were simply taped up, and sailed on for years without further stitching or patches needed. The fabric is not highly stressed.

    5) Junk sails look good. :cool:
    OK - beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but my Junk is always swamped by visitors & photographers when she sails into port.
    Marconis look good too, but much less interesting.:eek:

    6) Junk rigs are sustainable! Guess what, they grow on trees..... ;-0)
    OK, I do have some Egyptian cotton Marconis in me loft, but bamboos and tree trunks just keep growing, fast and cheap.

    7) Junk rigs have many many many shapes and forms...almost lateen to square, and many variants on each format.
    Marconis tend to be triangular. ( though modern racers are getting flat-topped, with big battens)

    8) Generalisations have few uses, just like specialists:-
    9) Junk rigged boats sail fast.
    Marconi rig boats sail fast.
    10) Junk boats sail slow
    Marconi boats sail slow.

    11) Junks have better deck space: much less clutter from wires and stays.

    12) Junks heel less sharply than Marconi rigged boats.

    13) Junks DO go to windward, when sailed right.
    I can take the luff right up to the mast, using the snotters.
    Hence there is NO "S" shape resulting with battens pressed against the mast, as suggested by one forum-quote. The pressure exerted on such a small area fails to bend any battens properly sized.
    Of course, if the batten is OFF the mast, the sail shape and wind's clear access is fantastic....even better than a tracked Marconi sail, I venture.
    I will try to illustrate this effect as seen on my Junk. ( please see pics added below:- these show her going to windward, with both sail luffs almost on their masts' circumferences.)
    Marconis DO go to windward when sailed right.

    14) Junk rig saves money.
    OK, I accept that some lucky sailors can scrounge a free secondhand Marconi sail if they know where to ask( lucky sods)....but where do they get free NEW stainless steel rigging, bottlescrews and fittings, when their insurance surveyor insists upon its replacement ? ( he insists because SS rigging is so highly stressed, it fails unexpectedly and the Marconi mast falls into the ocean taking its sail with it...eeeek)

    15) Junk sails make damn fine Biminis or hammocks or both.......or even teepees if you want to stay on that beach/island a bit longer.......:p

    16) Junk battens DO break sometimes.....but they mend real easy.
    Marconi rigs break sometimes too.......but they SURE aint easy to mend.

    17) Junk rig is SAFER as the stresses are so much lower, and one is much less likely to be concussed/killed/MOB'd by a recalcitrant boom gybe, as often seen with Marconis.
    Junk "booms" are not really such: usually they're just another batten, small and light, so it hurts a lot less if it DOES skelp yer heid. ( Ecosse:- bash one's brains)

    18) Junk rig is SUPERB for long cruises where wind is can rig the sails across the masts for perfect square-rigged trades sailing.

    19) Junks DO tack well, when the helmsman knows what he is doing.

    20) Junks GYBE superbly, with no fuss nor winch-handle terrors.

    Hope some of the above makes sense to some o' youse-it IS all true in my experience; no ******** was used here (honest!) , and I have sailed / built /designed/ owned all the types discussed, plus gaff, lug and lateen.

    Somehow I seem always to gravitate to Junk or Gaff sails offence to Mr.Marconi or lovely Bermuda.......

    I think personally I just like the look, the feel, the semi-organic nature of "trad" rigs. Something about pointy-topped sails leaves me cold.:)

    Mind you, I have noticed a few damn good -looking Marconi/gaff rigs lately, like the superb modern ocean racer BOSS, a carbon black fact she and I were heading SW out of the Clyde on the same tack one lumpy evening, what a sight to see she was!
    Of course she soon romped off, heeled over like a tequila drunk! .......mind you, her sails were wide at the top, with massive battens all the way down.........maybe we can see a pattern here?;) :p :idea:
    My Junk also heeled over as BOSS departed for the Open Golf at Turnberry, but only about 6 degrees "hard" on the wind; she is no racer, but still, she made the windward island port as planned, after nightfall.

    Not all junk rigs are wood and bamboo grass-derived:- there are plenty of kevlar/carbon/titanium using Junkies out there.....heck, I even have tried some kevlar and carbon-mix battens.....cunningly disguised as bamboos with their unique green-black-baked epoxy weave exposed. So much for green credentials huh? But I recycled them.....from Olympic canoe paddle shaftings.
    Bamboos are nicer for me I reckon, after trying GRP pultrusions, alloys and Carbons.

    Blimey, I rabbited on a lot longer than intended.........

    Happy Christmas and a Guid New Year to all, with Fair Winds.:)

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  11. Brent Swain
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Brent Swain Member

    All the junks I know over 40 feet need a big monsterous winch to get the sail up.
    We are awash in used marconi sails in good shape for less than the cost of materials for a junk sail not counting the time to build them. They are very easy to find in used boaters exchanges.
    Junks only sail to windward well in flat water.
    I've never bought new stainless rigging, turnbuckles etc, in nearly 40 years of cruising. Enough galv wire to rig a 36 footer costs about$15 in a scrapyard. New 5/8th galv turnbuckles cost about $21 each . Just bought some new ones last summer, after getting 25 years and six Pacific crossings out of the old ones. Galv is far more structurally reliable. Doesn't fail without warning. I wouldn't let an insurance salesman force me to use unreliable rigging. He will be in a warm house when it fails me at sea. .
    That's like quoting the cost of a new cadilac and chauffeur in giving the cost of transportation. Sure looks like ******** to me.
    Junks attract visitors and spectators , because oddballs swimming against the stream, ignoring the well proven, are interesting. Doesn't mean they are right, just oddballs. They are rare for good reasons.
  12. capngeoff
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    capngeoff New Member

    Vive la Difference!

    Vive la Difference!

    Glad you get so many bargains there,sailor! You are a lucky man.

    My view is ALL sailing is good - whatever layout sends your boat afloat along.......I love 'em all....but some more than others.
    I have no gripe with any sail types.

    My main Junk is made of wood, about 50 ft, 17 tons and has no sail winches.
    No standing rigging; just simple cheap poles of wood for masts.

    Also sail a wooden Grand Banks Dory, 23feet, about 1/2 ton.
    The mast is a cut-down pole from an electricity supply line, and her sail is a hardware-store tarp made for covering anything, a whole £5 ($8)worth brand new, with "hi-tech" battens of plastic drainpipes from house plumbing.( had no bamboos handy that day)
    She has no keel, no foresail and no engine.
    Anyhow, she sailed me around the islands reliably enough. SH107930.JPG


    China  Blue  Capt. Tim,  off Scotland after completing Jester Challenge race in record time..jpg
    Named her Howard Blackburn after the Dory hero from America.
    Poor guy near froze to death, rowed to land after losing his mother ship in fog:- with his hands frozen to the oars, deliberately. His shipmate died. Eskimos found him more dead than alive, & cured him. In 1883.
    On his return to "civilisation" sans digitsfrom frostbite, he became famous & rich. So he single-handed sailed the Atlantic to Britain. Jeez.

    The other junk pic is "China Blue" a Jester copy sailed by Captain Tim. He had just won the OSTAR derived Challenge in record time across Atlantic waters. Here he is tacking outta a wee Scottish sea-loch, as seen from my Junk. This was a chance meeting, after many junk rigged just 22feet of efficient sailing machine.

    Weather in my home waters is pretty unpredictable, katabatic blasts entertain, along with mad tide races, reefs n unforgiving rocky cliffs, oft hidden behind Scotch Mists......yet I see other Junk-rigged vessels navigating these waters , and meet with junkers, square riggers, gaffers and bermudans. Single-handed sailing is my norm, but sometimes the wife & 3 kids come along too,so it's good to know the big junk is safe.

    So I just would like to let folk know that Junk Rig works good; for me and a lot of others. So does Marconi / Bermudan, Gaff and allsorts.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, and all sail-powered folk.:) ( And engine-powered 'uns!)

  13. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Brent: we oddballs have more fun IMHO :)

    Reading this thread has given me an idea, as if I needed another one. I am planning to build a square rig for my small sailboat. A true oddball has no need to ask why, as for the rest of you - don't ask :cool:

    So it now occurs to me that, if I design the yards so they can be offset to one side, I am getting into junk territory. Good to know; just in case the square rigger doesn't get enough attention that is ... also solves the challenge of sail handling during tacking.
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