Inshore Sailing / Offshore Sailing - What Difference for the Junk Rig?

  • 13 Jan 2011 06:47
    Reply # 494807 on 492825
    I am sure that Arne's rig is perfectly suitable for offshore sailing, although I would like to discover if a sail with lots of camber suffers more chafe on long passages than a flat or flattish sail, but am not criticising cambered sails in any way - I just don't know. I guess it is a better choice for inshore sailing, but it may also depend on your personality, on which criteria are more important to you, performance, cost or simplicity being some of the criteria to consider.  I chose a flat sail in the end because I decided that it suits me, suits my boat and the way I sail.  I have very little money, want a sail that I can reef and unreef on the darkest night without worrying about control lines and sail set, and anyway, I have never been performance oriented.  When I launched Arion in 1996,  I got talked into a lofty bermudian rig (the vision of the original builder) which ended up costing me as much as the partially fitted-out hull and deck did, with sails from one of the best racing lofts in Australia.  The boat sailed magnificently in flat water but I soon discovered it gave me little advantage at sea.  I have sailed several hundred miles in the open ocean alongside my sistership, Minke, rigged with a flat junk sail, and had the opportunity to compare the rigs in a variety of conditions.  In light winds and flat seas I walked away from him.  If the wind was light and the seas sloppy, I was marginally better.  Once the wind freshened to 15 to 20 knots on the bow, I had to ease off to about 50 - 60 degrees off the wind (if I didn't, Arion was likely to pitch to a standstill on every fourth or fifth wave).  We were pretty much neck and neck from then on, reaching fast.  Once the wind came too far aft though, my troubles began.  By the time I'd poled out the jib and vanged the main, Minke was well ahead.  Or I could two-sail reach and gybe downwind, while Minke serenely sailed the direct course.  Once it came time to reef and gybe, Minke ended up miles ahead and I wouldn't catch her until the next anchorage. As I see it, all rigs are compromises and you have to weigh them up according to the criteria that is most important to you. It seems to me that, even with my high-performance bermudian rig, there was only a small percentage of the sailing spectrum when Arion was more efficient than Minke, maybe 10%.  60% of the time we were equally matched both in speed and ease of handling.  The other 30%, broad reaching and running, especially when we needed to gybe or reef, Minke was vastly more efficient.  Given that most of my sailing is in the latter 90% of the spectrum, I feel that a flat or flattish sail will work perfectly well for me and I can avoid the cost and complexity of the cambered sail.  And the other thing is entirely subjective, the choice of which rig is most suited to you is not just a technical question.  I quite like slow and lazy sailing. I have never had the slightest interest in racing or even in sailing fast.  I am quite happy to put in several extra tacks and take twice as long to get there, as long as I don't have to work up a sweat.  I just want to laze in the shade, read a book, sip my tea, or play my ukulele.   Go fast boats or go fast sails are wasted on me, a bit like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! To paraphrase my hero Joshua Slocum again, I'm just on a pleasure cruise, I have no cargo to deliver, and the days pass happily in the cabin of Arion, wherever I am.  For many years, until 2006, I had no engine in Arion and had many memorable drifts, but am now quite happy to start my diesel and chug along if I need to get somewhere.  If I don't need to get there, or can't (1000 miles from land) I am happy to wait.  Anyway, I am probably happiest when I am alone at sea. I really don't care about when I get there.  Getting off a lee shore in a gale is another matter, but I think the flat junk sail can do that as well as any other rig could, on Arion at least.   For me, the flat sail makes sense.  For others, it is obviously a different story.  Life would be pretty boring if we were all clones!
  • 11 Jan 2011 20:14
    Reply # 493626 on 492825
    'Fixing boats in exotic places' shouldn't be a definition of voyaging and indeed, is a definition that has only been coined in the last 20 years.  When I started voyaging in the mid 70s, boats were relatively simple and if they had been properly prepared, there was little to do on them - in spite of the fact that many of them were carvel-built wood.  So my first rule would be the dear old KISS principle, so that when you arrive in exotic places, you can go ashore and enjoy them.

    Your boat needs to be set up on passage for the maximum comfort (or lack of discormfotr if you prefer) and convenience, so that you enjoy being at sea.  Truth is, if you hate mess, there's not much difference between stowage on a weekend sailing boat and a long-distance voyager.  Everything needs to stay put whenever your little ship is shaken or stirred.

    Having arrived, anchored, cleared and relaxed in the E D, you will then want to explore it, and then you want a boat that is easy to handle and manoeuvreable - particularly if your charts are of doubtful provenance!  These virtues are also required for day sailing.

    Minimum maintenance and maximum fun.  Perhaps the biggest differences between the inshore and offshore boats are: room for food and water; more and possibly heavier anchors; a substantial dinghy; a more complete tool kit and bosun's stores, which in most cases would mean taking out all the stuff that normally lives in the garage and stowing it on the boat (at least I think that's what people do in houses).  The Best Offshore Boat will still be enjoyable when daysailing, but the best daysailer may not be ideal offshore.

    Having said which, I have met dozens of boats all over the world that seem completely inappropriate for offshore work, whose owners are deliriously happy; I have also gone for daysails on boats that take an hour to organise and then and hour to tidy up again at the end of the day, whose owners also think they are perfect for the job.  Thank heavens we are all different or the seas would be filled with only one type of boat.
  • 11 Jan 2011 06:21
    Reply # 493293 on 492825
    David has pretty much summed things up.
  • 11 Jan 2011 00:33
    Reply # 493060 on 492825
    I agree, there's no difference in validity. The first 45 years of my sailing career, I didn't get out of the British Isles, and had fun racing dinghies, camping in a dayboat, and gentle family weekends and holiday cruising. The last 10 years of my sailing career, I've enjoyed going further afield. Same quality of experience, just different.
       I would say that the difference for JR, inshore/offshore is not to be found in rig type, but more in self reliance, or lack of it. If you sail within reach of a large city, you can find wood, aluminium, plastics, sailcloth, glue, fasteners easily enough. If you're going to remote places, or making an ocean crossing, you'd better have all you'll need with you. This is more likely to be true if you made the whole rig yourself: you know what went into it, you've saved all the spare materials, you've developed the  skills needed to fix your rig. I've sailed up and down the oceans with a rig that is JR-based, but not simple - indeed, it is nearly as complex as a standard production bermudan rig (but very differently complex). I've spent time "fixing my boat in exotic places" ( the definition of long distance cruising), and I've spent time fixing my rig in mid-ocean. But the things I've had to fix have been ropes and sailcloth chafing, battens bending or breaking, things like that. They happen to simple rigs, too.
       But if you press me to suggest "horses for courses", I say that just for a standard trade-wind circumnavigation, I would want a boat and rig that will sail on happily and comfortably, mile after mile, with as little attention needed from me as possible. That indicates simple, flattish JR sails. I'll accept poor windward performance, because there isn't going to be too much of it to be done. Just for cruising amongst intricate, complex channels, in changeable weather, as in Scotland, Norway, Chile and British Columbia, I would want as much windward ability as ever I could manage to get, and quick and easy reefing and sheeting adjustments. Those are the extremes. In between, there's a continuous spectrum of cruising grounds, each with its own requirements, and we have to try to achieve "all-rounder" performance.
    Last modified: 11 Jan 2011 00:33 | Anonymous member
  • 10 Jan 2011 19:27
    Message # 492825
    What do you think? 
    How should people rig for one, or the other?
    What's been your experience of the difference?

    But first, let's agree that there's no difference in validity.

       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
                                                               - the Chinese Water Rat

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