Arion's junk rig conversion - pros and cons

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  • 13 May 2020 20:09
    Reply # 8966639 on 1107025
    Anonymous wrote:This has turned into one of the most interesting and inspiring topics we've had - glad it's available to the public as well as members. Since these topics inevitably 'die a death' and slide down the charts, would anyone volunteer to keep an eye on it and copy and paste it into an article in due course? Thanks again, Graham.

    Don't worry Brian, there are always people who find these threads by searching for something obscure and I'm now bumping this just for the sake of it.

  • 20 Oct 2012 19:58
    Reply # 1109375 on 1105936
    Thanks, Graham. We'll look forward to that - a sort of 'pros and cos' feature. I've changed the title of your original post in this topic to include that phrase in the hope it will draw more comments.Hope you don't mind, and if you do, please change it back!
  • 19 Oct 2012 13:18
    Reply # 1108191 on 1107025
    Brian Kerslake wrote:This has turned into one of the most interesting and inspiring topics we've had - glad it's available to the public as well as members. Since these topics inevitably 'die a death' and slide down the charts, would anyone volunteer to keep an eye on it and copy and paste it into an article in due course? Thanks again, Graham.

    Interesting suggestion Brian.  Since I initiated the posting I will volunteer to collate the material and see if it is of interest for the newsletter.  It would be good to hear the perspective on these topics from some of those who have flat sails or other variations.
     
  • 18 Oct 2012 18:46
    Reply # 1107395 on 1106152
    Gary King wrote:Though never sailed a junk I intuitively thought a deeply reefed junk would be less than optimally shaped on the wind, while off the wind any old hessian bag would do (opposite to what the other bloke said).
    "The aforementioned ex-junk sailor also felt that the junk sail is the wrong shape when deeply reefed, especially when sailing off the wind."

    He was probably thinking of the HM sail, and overlooking the fact that we have many different planforms. Yes, in theory the HM planform, with a yard angle of 60 degrees, puts the centre of area too far out, but in practice, so long as you don't press on too hard, it's not a big problem. If you want to press on, then even a HM sail could be rigged to be hauled across the mast for better balance.
     
    If I remember correctly, C A Marchaj's wind tunnel tests established that the best shape downwind was a low quadrilateral. Thus the viking longboat's square sail is about as good as it gets for drive, but unfortunately, being symmetrical, is rather too inclined to get into a "death roll". The best junk rig downwind planform, for both the  most power and the most relaxed sailing, would have to be the Van Loan, with its large balance area and low stresses. (The worst junk rig upwind planform would have to be a flat-cut Van Loan, with its low yard angle giving no camber due to fanning. Rig design is a series of compromises).
    Last modified: 18 Oct 2012 19:02 | Anonymous member
  • 18 Oct 2012 10:20
    Reply # 1107025 on 1105936
    This has turned into one of the most interesting and inspiring topics we've had - glad it's available to the public as well as members. Since these topics inevitably 'die a death' and slide down the charts, would anyone volunteer to keep an eye on it and copy and paste it into an article in due course? Thanks again, Graham.
  • 18 Oct 2012 09:07
    Reply # 1107005 on 1105936
    Point well made Annie and a quality well worth a little batten rattling occasionally.  In 2005, off Coffs Harbour on the NSW coast, I had to take emergency avoiding action at night with the jib poled out and mainsail vanged down, when an unlit yacht with a snoozing watchkeeper crossed my bows.  Luckily I was not snoozing myself, as I may well have been.  It was in my engineless days and all I could do was disengage the self steering gear and turn up into the wind.  Arion came to a standstill with all sails aback and I believe we were sailing backwards as the yacht scraped past our bows.  I was glad that I had a strong rig and a rudder attached to the back of my keel, instead of a spade rudder and fractional racing type of rig.   It took some time to sort out the mess, get the boat back on course and for my heart rate to return to normal.  I have also cursed and struggled to release vangs during squalls.  These days I rather enjoy just standing in the cockpit and easing or hauling in the sheet, no need to slither around the heaving decks setting and relieving tackle.  Despite occasionally feeling nostalgic for some aspects of my bermudian rig, I have no intention of returning to it.  I am well pleased with the compromises made.  
  • 18 Oct 2012 03:39
    Reply # 1106848 on 1106717
    Graham Cox wrote:
    I think a bermudian rig, properly set up and sailed, is probably the most chafe free rig you can get - I kept my sails and running rigging away from the standing rigging and never had any problems.  The trick is to vang everything down so it cannot move.  That was one of the beauties of that rig (no battens and yard banging around in sloppy conditions) - but that is not in my opinion a significant factor in choosing a rig.
    I have twice come across drift nets at sea, right in my path, secured by a 25mm wire cable.  They were very long and almost invisible.  Fortunately on both occasions there was someone on deck and it was daylight.  The first occasion was in Badger running in about F5 at a goodly speed.  We disconnected the self-steering, put the helm down, reached along the length of the net and carried on our way cursing the fisherman who'd laid it, with buoys only at each end.

    The second time was in Iron Bark running in about F5 at a goodly speed.  The sails were vanged down so that nothing could move.  The net was spotted with exclamations of horror and Trevor dashed below and started the engine.  Immediately we put it on full revs and just managed to turn the boat before we over-ran the net.  We then spent quite a long time undoing the ensuing chaos of backed mainsail vanged down on a now-immovable cam-cleat, poled out staysail, etc.  The fisherman also got roundly cursed, but in the privacy of my mind, so did the rig.  If we hadn't had an engine, or one that would start so quickly, we would undoubtedly have got entangled in the net.  A steel boat wouldn't come to much harm, but what about a GRP hull, running hard onto a 25mm bar-taut, wire hawser?

    I have never forgotten these incidents, or the difference in how one was a minor impediment and the other a major event.  It was a significant factor in choosing to go back to junk rig.  I think it is unseamanlike to have sails secured in such a way that instant manoeuvring in an emergency is impossible.  Think man overboard instead of fishing net ...

  • 18 Oct 2012 00:31
    Reply # 1106717 on 1105936
    Thanks David for your thoughtful reply and your illuminating perspective on several issues I raised.

    I found it difficult to reef or furl the bermudian main off the wind, even after I got rid of my fully battened mainsail and reverted to a hollow leech, battenless one like the Hiscocks and Pardeys used.  Also needing to gybe the whole thing from side to side if  the wind began to get into the lee of the main was a pain.  When the wind was variable it often drove me to despair.  Twin jibs poled out work better, especially if they are on roller furlers, but still require a lot of foredeck work.  The ease of sailing the junk downwind was one of the things that always attracted me.  I am pleased to hear that reefing downwind is possible should I need to do so (I will have to practice some more) but if possible I like to feather the sail as I find that procedure to be so delightfully easy, stress and friction free.  As for hoisting, I use a 3:1 halyard and can usually get my 35sq metre sail up with just one turn around the winch, provided I use sailing gloves.  I have to sweat it up for the last couple of panels but am usually too lazy or impatient to get the winch handle out unless I am extra tired.

    As you say, the shape of a partially rolled jib is poor.  The best solution is to have an inner forestay and a hanked on staysail, requiring more foredeck work.  PJR states that junk rig is at its best when it blows hard.  Having some camber in the sail and a high-peaked yard improves this performance, especially when deeply reefed.  One of the benefits of my upper luff parrel, copied from Arne Kverneland, which goes from the heel of the yard around the mast to the third batten down then to the deck, is that it continues to be effective, hauling the throat back, even when I am reefed down to just three panels.  Beyond that, having the tail of the yard hauling parrel going to the heel of the yard before it comes down to the deck, as developed by Paul Fay, helps to keep the yard peaked up.

    Arion's bermudian rig had agricultural, heavy duty roller furlers without ball bearings that were almost impossible to break, as well as a massively over engineered rig.  Nothing broke in 15 years of hard sailing, but I often thought of all the clevis pins, turnbuckles, mast tangs, swages etc that were holding the whole thing together.  Failure in my case was unlikely but nonetheless the failure of one item could have brought the whole rig down and repairing much of it was beyond my engineering capabilities.  Inspecting it all is not an easy task either.  I recently inspected a catamaran's rig that came down after sailing to Australia from Africa via Asia.  The cause of the rig failing was a crack inside a toggle - hidden from view until it parted.  Apart from breaking a mast, which is an unlikely scenario (my alloy mast, 200 x 5mm tapering to 110 x 5mm, is incredibly stiff), I love knowing I can fix most things, even a broken yard as I did recently (and that failure was my fault).  What I called in my recent article in the newsletter "bicycle technology".  I am hoping, and am quietly confident, that my rig is evolving to a point where it will have the same reliability as my old rig did (and that familiarity will make handling it second nature, as it was with the bermudian rig). PS: with a Galway Blazer type of bipole jury rig, even losing the mast becomes an event from which recovery is significantly easier with junk rig that most others.  It all depends on how far you wish to take emergency preparations.

    I think a bermudian rig, properly set up and sailed, is probably the most chafe free rig you can get - I kept my sails and running rigging away from the standing rigging and never had any problems.  The trick is to vang everything down so it cannot move.  That was one of the beauties of that rig (no battens and yard banging around in sloppy conditions) - but that is not in my opinion a significant factor in choosing a rig.  You have to look at performance across the spectrum.  I have suffered a little chafe in my junk rig, with the upper panel of the sail being pinched by something, and when my sail is fully hoisted the yard hauling parrel touches the halyard (the problem resolves itself once a reef is put in) but this is a compromise I am willing to make.  With a well set up and handled bermudian rig, I never suffered from damaged sails, but I carried several back up sails, as the stresses on bermudian rigs are high and damage to a sail renders it useless.  I like the fact that I can keep sailing with junk rig even if the sail is damaged.

    So, all rigs are compromises, they all have their good points, it is a question of what criteria are important to you.  I am happy with my choices (though I'd love to try a fantail sail one day).  I find the low tech aspects of junk rig, the easy reefing and off the wind characteristics a fair trade for giving up my roller furlers and chafe free existence, and the windward performance of my cambered sail is an added bonus.  I sometimes get nostalgic for the better qualities of my bermudian rig but taking the situation as a whole, I prefer junk rig.  The purpose of this posting is to give some food for thought to any readers who might be contemplating a junk rig conversion, from a sailor who has sailed many thousands of miles with bermudian and gaff rig, and who is happy with his new rig, despite finding it a bigger project than expected.  I still have much to learn, but I have found a great deal of support and information from fellow members of the JRA.  I can recommend the journey.
    Last modified: 18 Oct 2012 00:35 | Anonymous member
  • 17 Oct 2012 19:25
    Reply # 1106493 on 1105936
    Graham,
    Thanks for posting this. It's extremely valuable, coming as it does from someone with a long and wide experience of other rigs before turning to junk rig. Me, I can hardly remember how to sail a bermudan rig now, having done so very infrequently in the last 30 years.

    I do remember this, though: when hard pressed and sailing downwind, it's either impossible, or it will do damage, to hoist or reef a bermudan or gaff mainsail. It's always possible to hoist a junk sail, though it will take a lot of effort and a powerful winch to do so. The first few reefs will drop easily enough with the sail full of wind. The next few will eventually shake themselves down into place if there is a sea running, and the boat is rolling. I will agree, though, that the last stages of lowering the sail can be difficult, if it is plastered hard against the lifts and/or the mast. I have a yard downhaul rigged in the PJR fashion, but have not found it particularly effective, and have now rigged it directly to the yard halyard block, through a block at the mid point of the boom, to the deck and aft. I haven't tried this yet, but do feel that it will help under some circumstances.

    I have always been against using a many-part halyard, with no winch, because of the friction  that it adds in, both hoisting and lowering. The few huge raceboats as I've been able to see at close quarters seem to use only a 2:1 halyard with a large winch, large blocks and large line to hoist their very heavy mainsails, and I think this is the most efficient way - except for having the end of the halyard aloft. For that reason alone, I stick with a 3:1 halyard on a big sail. I did use a 2:1 halyard on my small mizzen wingsail, though, and didn't get into any trouble. Sometimes I fantasise about getting some of the modern cylindrical roller bearing blocks (emphatically not ball bearing blocks, which have a short life) as made by Lewmar, Harken and others, but when I see the prices, I keep my credit card firmly under control.

    I, too, think that a deeply reefed junk sail, so long as the yard can be kept near vertical, is an efficient rig to windward. This is one of the things that makes me a "fan" :-) of the fanned sail, the fact that the deeper you reef, the better it gets. As soon as the yard has to be lowered to a shallower angle, the junk sail becomes less good - which is one of the factors that puts me off the Van Loan and split-junk rigs. Even these, though, will compare well in heavy weather with a rolling headsail that is almost rolled away, and is in a terrible shape. And I do find that when I'm in company with bermudan boats, and there's some wind about, I'm the one that's sailing to windward, when the bermudan boats find it to be all too much like hard work and turn the engine key.

    I agree with all you say in your paragraph on the subject of "all rigs are compromises", except for the increased potential for chafe. We don't chafe our sails against shrouds and spreaders, we don't need baggywrinkle, and I've never found chafe against the lifts to be a major problem. We do have our own chafe problems, admittedly, particularly in the area where the battens contact the mast, and where the sailcloth gets trapped between the battens and the mast when reefed.

    I have fixed things on both the sail and the battens in mid ocean. Sometimes it's not been easy - but compared with fixing a roller headsail, or a jammed in-mast furler, well, at least it's been possible. More important to me is the fact that I can fix the rig in any remote anchorage, using tools and materials that I can carry aboard.
    Last modified: 17 Oct 2012 19:27 | Anonymous member
  • 17 Oct 2012 13:59
    Reply # 1106217 on 1106152
    Gary King wrote:Though never sailed a junk I intuitively thought a deeply reefed junk would be less than optimally shaped on the wind, while off the wind any old hessian bag would do (opposite to what the other bloke said).

    With a high peaked yard, especially with the luff hauling parrel attached to the heel of the yard to keep it peaked up, and some camber in the panels, the top of the sail remains remarkably efficient to windward even when deeply reefed.  It resembles in some ways the Polynesian crab claw sail profile, which has been shown to be very effective in wind tunnel testing.  Off the wind though, with the centre of effort out to one side on a single sail, some boats slide the sail across the mast to improve balance.  David Tyler does this on Tystie, wheras Anne Hill on Fantail doesn't feel the need to, even though they have similar sailplans.  On Arion that has not proved necessary either. My sail has a higher aspect ratio which may help, as well as having a hullform that loves running off.  Below the waterline, I have a very cutaway bow and deep keel aft.  Coming into marinas under power in windy conditions I have to be careful not to let the bows blow off as I slow down in my final approaches to a berth, but when sailing this feature becomes a benefit.  I certainly do not agree with the idea that the junk rig is the wrong shape either on or off the wind. 

    As I said earlier, I feel that all rigs are compromises.  I like the ease of reefing a junk from the cockpit or control station, being able to run downwind without going on the foredeck to pole out headsails or spinnakers, the amazing power of the sail off the wind, being able to tack without grinding sheet winches, the ease of gybing - provided you secure the sail against a fan up and stop the sheet from tangling with your neck or favourite deck hardware - the low stresses in the rig,  the absence of flogging sails, and not having any standing rigging to worry about.  I don't like the effort of hauling the sail up, the increased potential for chafe, the vulnerability of the battens and yard to breakages, the way the battens and yard bang around when becalmed in a swell, or the difficulty of repairing the sail at sea without lowering the bundle to the deck and removing some of the battens etc. 

    I doubt if the junk rig will ever become the ultimate racing rig, even though the split rig and fast hulls are producing impressive results, especially for short-handed racing, but the rig suits my low key style of sailing, and the low tech characteristics suit my basic technological skills .  My anxiety about handling the rig has more to do with it being unfamiliar.  I felt like this in my first couple of seasons as a sailor 40 years ago and I am sure that eventually I will become as comfortable and familiar with this rig as I was with the old one.  Besides, it is spectacularly beautiful.
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