Longtime readers will know I’ve been going on for a long time about different rigs and I’d say I’ve looked at em all.
One of the peculiarities of my boat – 6’10” beam for the canal – is that the mast stays are too close for a boom to swing out without hitting them.
As I’m currently building in these things – the mast steps, bracing for the sheets etc. – I have had to make the final decision. It has been hovering around the lug sail or square for a while, as both circumvent the design issues.
There ended up being five short masts of 14-15 foot, 3 inches solid and 118 sq ft on each mast, making the boat a schooner really.
Going even further, the masts are stepped into tabernacles, slightly angled so that they can be laid down parallel to each other on the deck in a storm or going under bridges.
Certain things had to be with this lug sail.
Being loose-footed [no boom], that solves the issue of the sweep of the end of the boom against the stays, plus it enabled me to have a more ‘square’ shape to the sail, each sail overlapping by a foot and lower than it would have been.
Therefore it is run as a series of jibs really, with sheeting both sides back to the cockpit and there attached to belaying pins on a rail. The sail is hauled in by hand until it ‘takes’, then the sheet is wrapped around the belaying pin:
One crew member pulls perpendicular to the rope and the other pulls the rope further onto the pin. It works, it circumvents blocks [pulleys] on deck and waving about above deck, hitting people’s heads, plus it saves money and is cheaply replaced.
In the pic above here, it is used for square sails, the sheets from above. With the lug sails, the sheets travel horizontally along the deck and into the wheelhouse.
And yes, I have worked out the foot pounds required per person hauling at the sheet and it comes to about 15, which is within the range of most adults’ strength.
The system can only work if voyages are the intention, with long legs on one tack only. No good as a racing rig. As voyages are the intention, then it’s a simple, cheap, olden day solution, plus it keeps the wheelhouse relatively uncluttered.
One beautiful thing with this rig is that it can be dropped quickly, with only one halyard point on the yard. The system requires the yard to be unbalanced, with more woodwork behind the fulcrum than in front. This has the effect of tightening the luff or leading edge.
Another beautiful thing is its safety. In a sudden gust, the yard is thrown to leeward and spills the wind aloft. This is also the prime reason against it as a sail of choice for racing boats or any time speed is required. It is precisely that instant depowering in gusts racers don’t want but we do want before even getting to a rope.
And it is the only sail configuration which does it.
A second later I can get to the belaying pins and whip them out of their holes, releasing the sheets and all sails flap. That gives me time to get to the central halyard rail and release each sail to deck. And that’s before the crew come into the action – their main job, the two of them, is to be at each mast to guide the yard down.
The waving yard aloft, when set, is not an issue, it does not wave about at all but ‘sets’. The waving yard coming down is another matter and there is some danger – crew would need to be trained in how to do that.
Part two comes up tomorrow.