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Thread: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

  1. #1
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    Default Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Hi All,
    I hope having a steel hull, albeit clearly based on a wooden boat design - an Alan Pape Ebbtide - will allow me to make use of the knowledge on this site. When I googled lugsails, many of the hits were threads on here. I have a junk-rigged schooner that I am thinking of converting to a balanced lug. I like the junk rig, but over the years I have discovered that the shear effort needed to work two large sails with the weight of battens and the ensuing miles of rope is too much for me. With only my wife, who never professed to be a sailor, I essentially sail short handed and I haven't found the theoretical ease of handling the junk rig to work for me on a 36' boat with two large sails.
    My first question is very basic. With the similarities of the junk and balanced lugsails, can I assume that I should be able to make a suit of sails using the same mast positions? Also, can I assume that the aspect ratio of the sails and their subsequent forces would be similar enough to continue using the unstayed, douglas fir masts currently on the boat? I could add stays if necessary, but I'd prefer to keep it simple.
    I have sailmaking skills and an industrial sewing machine so I plan to make the sails myself. I designed and made a standing lugsail on the first dinghy I built and a junk sail on a subsequent one, which I put up on youtube many years ago. Whether I need help with designing these sails I'll look at when I've got further along with the idea.
    Thanks for any advice on this subject.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    I think the switch could probably be a reasonably simple operation, since junk and balanced lugsails are so close in type. Where I see a potential problem is the size of the lugsails. A balanced lug is pretty much self-vanging (unlike a standing lug). The balanced lug will tend to swing like a barn door when sheet tension is eased, with minimal upper sail twist. This can make it substantially more difficult to depower in a puff. It can always be reefed if needed, but your minute-to-minute sailshape control tends to be quite limited, pretty much to just "on" and "off". This is the reason you see lots of small-ish balanced lugs, where sailors can use their own weight to offset excessive heeling force, and very few big balanced lugs where crew weight doesn't make much difference.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Quote Originally Posted by Alianco View Post
    Hi All,
    I hope having a steel hull, albeit clearly based on a wooden boat design - an Alan Pape Ebbtide - will allow me to make use of the knowledge on this site. When I googled lugsails, many of the hits were threads on here. I have a junk-rigged schooner that I am thinking of converting to a balanced lug. I like the junk rig, but over the years I have discovered that the shear effort needed to work two large sails with the weight of battens and the ensuing miles of rope is too much for me. With only my wife, who never professed to be a sailor, I essentially sail short handed and I haven't found the theoretical ease of handling the junk rig to work for me on a 36' boat with two large sails.
    My first question is very basic. With the similarities of the junk and balanced lugsails, can I assume that I should be able to make a suit of sails using the same mast positions? Also, can I assume that the aspect ratio of the sails and their subsequent forces would be similar enough to continue using the unstayed, douglas fir masts currently on the boat? I could add stays if necessary, but I'd prefer to keep it simple.
    I have sailmaking skills and an industrial sewing machine so I plan to make the sails myself. I designed and made a standing lugsail on the first dinghy I built and a junk sail on a subsequent one, which I put up on youtube many years ago. Whether I need help with designing these sails I'll look at when I've got further along with the idea.
    Thanks for any advice on this subject.
    I sail a junk rig. What is the sail area of your present sails?
    be modest, and be proud of it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Todd, all very interesting. From what I always understood of the junk rig, and to put it crudely, it was a way of adding more control, especially of twist at the cost of more and lengthy control lines. The original junks relied on large crews and the Hassler version is a simplification of that for single handing, though Jester was also single masted. The perceived wisdom of depowering a junk sail is to simply release the halyard, which in turn eases the sheet. It's helped by the lazy jacks/topping lift system that is another control over the sail as it drops and maybe this is an advantage lugsails don't have. Having said that you wouldn't want to be constantly releasing and resetting the halyard for every gust. I suppose I'm wondering just how different a junk sail is to a lugsail and what I will lose in exchange for fewer lines and lighter sails.
    Confirmed Junkie,
    That's a good question and the answer is I don't know. sail plan.jpg This is a photo showing her on a river mooring on a still day. As I said in my original question I like much about the junk rig and I'd still have one on a smaller boat, but I don't find the setting and reefing of the sails and the rope management easy enough to be comfortable. I'll be happy to sacrifice some performance for relaxed cruising and ease of use. My first thought was of a standing, loose footed lug as being the simplest and cheapest sail possible while keeping the existing mast positions (and the masts themselves), but what I really want is to keep an open mind and pick all of the brains on here while slowly formulating a plan.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    If I was you I would join the Junk Rig Association and ask a few questions there before I'd dump a rig that is pretty simple to use. The rig you have there appears to be the older style Hasler-McLeod flat cut rig. If you have timber battens you could replace them with alloy tube which should reduce the weight a bit. Reefing a JR is about as easy as it gets.
    It's your boat but I'd look at ways to reduce weight of the rig and look at the halyard setup to see if you can improve the mechanical advantage.
    My main is 326 sqft and i can raise it quite easily. You are quite right about the large amount of line though. My sheet is around 45 m.
    be modest, and be proud of it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    A lug will not be significantly lighter then the junk, it needs heavier spars and stronger cloth. If the sail is to heavy, install winches and ball bearing blocks.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    A lug will not be significantly lighter then the junk, it needs heavier spars and stronger cloth. If the sail is to heavy, install winches and ball bearing blocks.
    I agree: I just finished a junk sail for a Corribee following the Slieve McGalliard rules, using heavy spinnaker cloth. This stuff would be right for your boat too, cheap 'Seconds' stuf from Contender. Contender does only sell to professional sailmakers, you would have to find a friendly sailmaker. You could use the Arne Kverneland system to build depth in your sails and the performance will be better then the usual flat junk sails. I think Kvernelands sails are less work as you have too build actually 2 sails in a 'split' junk rig. You can make the whole rig lighter by usung aluminium tubes in stead of douglas battens. And join the JRA if you did not already.
    A balanced lug rig on a 36 ft boat would need a lot of extra rope for lazyjacks, topping lifts, thereby defeating the plan for a simple sail, and even then putting in a reef would not be easy, I am afraid. Frank.
    www.oarandsail.nl

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    All very interesting as before.
    I was a member of the junk rig association and indeed, bought my boat through Robin Blaine's brokerage. The only junk I'd sailed on previously was a badger at a rally owned by one of the members. When I bought mine she had a green suit of sails, which were bigger and with which I sailed the south coast of UK with a couple of mates. A friend of the original builder told me that she sailed better with the original red sails so one winter I rerigged her as she is and sailed in the med for 2 years with my wife.
    If converting to any sort of lug will not appreciatively save weight then that certainly puts paid to one of my goals. I have a four to one purchase with bearinged blocks on the halyards, which means I can raise them at the masts and have a big winch and a fairlead for the foresail halyard to tweak them up from the cockpit. The purchase helps with the weight, but it takes a long time to get them up and with the friction, added to by the fairleads, I find they don't drop on releasing the halyards as I was lead to believe. I'm sure it's me, but I found the reefing wasn't anything like as easy as I had read. As I said the whole sails needed hauling down by hand at the masts and without lashing the battens, and with the tack only acting on the boom, they bounced with the gusts leading to poor sail shape.
    I think my rope management is pretty good with a series of deep, canvas pockets in which to flake the halyards, sheets, tacks, lazyjacks, downhauls, throat parrels and batten parrels, but simply getting going under sail is a long adventure and failing to flake any of the lines would result in almost instant jamming, as I found out. My main sheet is also around 40m and going about from a reach, even guiding the falls by hand is a messy business. the radar you can see on the transom was gotten rid of after our first day's cruising since it was impossible to stop the sheets from wrapping around it. Likewise the outboard bracket when the outboard was wrenched off it and luckily deposited in the cockpit.
    I know this sounds like I am disparaging the junk rig and I really am not, it's just that for me essentially sailing a large boat (for me) single handed with two sails that I don't feel I can fully control and miles of rope trying to to everything in knots is becoming a problem. I do love how there are fewer things mechanically to go wrong like roller furlers and mast tracks. Maybe I'm just too old or not experienced enough to make easier use of the rig.
    Please keep any comments coming, I'm finding it all useful.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    I should have been clearer on hauling down the sails. The downhauls do bring the sails down, but not right down.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Quote Originally Posted by Alianco View Post
    I should have been clearer on hauling down the sails. The downhauls do bring the sails down, but not right down.
    The sail should drop under its own weight. Would easing the batten parrels a bit help?
    be modest, and be proud of it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Something is not right with your rigging, I can't say what, but there is to much friction in the system. You need to rewiev the whole setup, write it down on paper and compare it with known working systems.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Hi, in an effort not to get too bogged down in my experiences I haven't been clear in how I rigged my boat and what I have discovered. I was more interested in peoples' experiences with the various lugsails, but to clarify further, here's a brief explanation of my boat.
    She is a self-build (not by me) Alan Pape Ebbtide, modified for two masts to make a junk-rigged schooner. When I bought her she had some fairly rotten running rigging on bare masts and the sails, booms and battens stored in a boat shed. I bought Practical Junk Rig and rigged her according to the advice in there and sailed her from Falmouth in the south west coast of UK round to a boatyard near London with a couple of mates, playing with the rigging as we went. The sails are indeed flat cut to the original design with ash battens. When I later laid out the red sails I discovered they had been modified with the very top panels missing and the second, cream panels made slightly larger than designed. I spoke to Robin Blaine at a boat jumble and he suggested I put them back to original. I was able to use the floor of a workshop I was working in as a sail loft and following Practical Junk Rig and using my industrial sewing machine I remodeled them. That's why the top panels are red above the cream panels, I simply got a good deal on the red sail cloth.
    Since fitting the red sails I have tweaked the rig over two years. Having a sturdy steel boat with solid handrails I was able to rig preventers to the forward end of the headsail boom and bring them back to clam cleats in the cockpit. With these I can back the headsail and tack in less than 1.5 knots, which I'm happy with for a long keel boat. I've experimented with all manner of ways of running the rigging, though I'm aware that budget restraints have not allowed larger pulleys, which could well lessen friction. After some misadventures and breakages, the top two battens in both sails are GRP tube donated by a mate who use to own a junk rigged boat and the lower ones ash. They do add a fair bit of weight to the sails.
    What I said about lowering the sails was misleading. They do drop when the halyard is released and only the last part needs to be hailed down by hand when most of the battens are down and the sail is lighter. Of course, dropping them quickly would only be done in an emergency since the 40 odd metres of halyards and sheets are released to the wind and try to wind around everything sticking out. I remember Robin Blaine showing his model of a basic junk rig and demonstrating how easy it was to raise, lower and reef the sail all from the cockpit as was the point of the design from Hassler's Jester. Unfortunately none of my experiences have come close to that. Maybe I am comparing my experiences to an unreal expectation with two large sails against a small model on a table, I certainly can't raise the sails from the cockpit without serious and possibly dangerous effort. I could do all the raising with my large winch, but with a 4-1 purchase on the halyards it would take for ever. All of my other training and sailing experience has been on sailing and racing other people's bermudan sloops and 8 months on square riggers.
    I'm fully aware that I may well have not achieved the full potential of my own rig and that with money and advice it could be improved. In fact, I haven't sailed her since 2016 since when she has been in the French canals with her masts down as being the cheapest option while waiting for our lives and the world to allow us to go back to sea. While she's sitting on the hard my mind turned to the rig and what my options are should we be able to take her back to the med next year. Hence the original question.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Quote Originally Posted by Alianco View Post
    Hi, in an effort not to get too bogged down in my experiences I haven't been clear in how I rigged my boat and what I have discovered. I was more interested in peoples' experiences with the various lugsails, but to clarify further, here's a brief explanation of my boat.
    She is a self-build (not by me) Alan Pape Ebbtide, modified for two masts to make a junk-rigged schooner. When I bought her she had some fairly rotten running rigging on bare masts and the sails, booms and battens stored in a boat shed. I bought Practical Junk Rig and rigged her according to the advice in there and sailed her from Falmouth in the south west coast of UK round to a boatyard near London with a couple of mates, playing with the rigging as we went. The sails are indeed flat cut to the original design with ash battens. When I later laid out the red sails I discovered they had been modified with the very top panels missing and the second, cream panels made slightly larger than designed. I spoke to Robin Blaine at a boat jumble and he suggested I put them back to original. I was able to use the floor of a workshop I was working in as a sail loft and following Practical Junk Rig and using my industrial sewing machine I remodeled them. That's why the top panels are red above the cream panels, I simply got a good deal on the red sail cloth.
    Since fitting the red sails I have tweaked the rig over two years. Having a sturdy steel boat with solid handrails I was able to rig preventers to the forward end of the headsail boom and bring them back to clam cleats in the cockpit. With these I can back the headsail and tack in less than 1.5 knots, which I'm happy with for a long keel boat. I've experimented with all manner of ways of running the rigging, though I'm aware that budget restraints have not allowed larger pulleys, which could well lessen friction. After some misadventures and breakages, the top two battens in both sails are GRP tube donated by a mate who use to own a junk rigged boat and the lower ones ash. They do add a fair bit of weight to the sails.
    What I said about lowering the sails was misleading. They do drop when the halyard is released and only the last part needs to be hailed down by hand when most of the battens are down and the sail is lighter. Of course, dropping them quickly would only be done in an emergency since the 40 odd metres of halyards and sheets are released to the wind and try to wind around everything sticking out. I remember Robin Blaine showing his model of a basic junk rig and demonstrating how easy it was to raise, lower and reef the sail all from the cockpit as was the point of the design from Hassler's Jester. Unfortunately none of my experiences have come close to that. Maybe I am comparing my experiences to an unreal expectation with two large sails against a small model on a table, I certainly can't raise the sails from the cockpit without serious and possibly dangerous effort. I could do all the raising with my large winch, but with a 4-1 purchase on the halyards it would take for ever. All of my other training and sailing experience has been on sailing and racing other people's bermudan sloops and 8 months on square riggers.
    I'm fully aware that I may well have not achieved the full potential of my own rig and that with money and advice it could be improved. In fact, I haven't sailed her since 2016 since when she has been in the French canals with her masts down as being the cheapest option while waiting for our lives and the world to allow us to go back to sea. While she's sitting on the hard my mind turned to the rig and what my options are should we be able to take her back to the med next year. Hence the original question.
    You need to talk to some of the JR schooner owners on the Junk rig association website.
    https://junkrigassociation.org/technical_forum/10305133
    be modest, and be proud of it.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    WX, I have rejoined the JRA and have started on a long list of questions. Thanks.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Converting a junk rig to a balanced lug

    Quote Originally Posted by Alianco View Post
    WX, I have rejoined the JRA and have started on a long list of questions. Thanks.
    Those guys know a lot more than i do.
    be modest, and be proud of it.

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