Sailing with a junk rig
During the last few years, more and more sailors have been interested in the rig with which the Chinese
had crossed rivers and oceans for over 2000 years – the junk rig.
At first sight, this kind of rig looks strange, clumsy, unhandily and ineffective.
However, much of this is due to the differentness and to the lack of knowledge concerning
how to handle this kind of rig.
When having overcome the first few predjudices and doubts, this topic becomes really interesting
and offers inriching aspects to the area of sailing and rigs.
This page is supposed to give a short introduction into the topic.
Moreover, the reader will be proposed books information and internet links.
Interesting to know:
What has once been supposed to be not more than a short introduction to the issue of the junk rig,
today is probably the broadest collection on this topic in the German speaking part of the Internet.
What is so typical about this rig
- In the „West“ one would describe it as fully-battened lugsail.
- The rig is simple and has a flat cut
- Depending on the size of the ship it possesses one to three unstayed masts, each with one sail on it.
- The sheet leads to almost every batten. Exeption: top batten(s).
- Usually the battens are loose-fittingly tied to the mast with short and sometimes adjustable cords.
- It always exists a cord system (Lazy-Jacks) between mast top and boom,
which keeps the reefed dropped sail.
The most detailed description online is by Ursula Rothermann and Wolfgang Hauf who describe their boat
- The rig is low-tech and low-price, simple and cheap.
- There is only one sail per mast. Thus, no changing of sails on a moving boat is necessary.
Storage room for different sails is not needed.
- The mast is unstayed. Less vertical forces occur.
- The sail can be reefed or dropped easily and from the cockpit position.
It does not need to be bend on or clipped anywhere.
The watch below can sleep without being disturbed.
- The sail flaps much less and is a lot quieter than an other sail this size.
Thus it is strained less and endures longer time.
- Due to he fact that the sheet is connected to almost every batten,
The forces are spread equally over all the sail.
- The sail at the unstayed mast can be sheeted out to 90° with abaft winds.
So it will be more effective on such a course, does not chafe with shrouds
and an accidental gybe becomes more improbable.
Should an accidental gybe still occurr, it will turn out less hard
due to the sail that swings around that far that there is hardly anymore wind pressure on it.
However, you should take care that the sheet doesn’t sweep everything off board.
- Due to the straight cut of the junk sail (only very little belly) it is said to be less effective
in case of by the wind courses and moreover,
in soft wind, it is said to be less effective compared to the Bermuda-Rig.
The direct comparison, however, with boats constructed in the same way or even exact measurements
has not been made until today.
- One cannot attach mast steps to the mast and thus has top think up something else.
Also for the courtesy flag one has to look for another spot on starboard.
- This kind of rig arouses curiosity. As skipper one will probably have to answer
a lot of intelligent and some less intelligent questions.
This will be enough as a short introduction. Others have already written enough.
If you like, you can click yourself through our
and Book Suggestions
The ship I imagine
Taking into onsideration all that I have learned about this issue,
the boat I would desire would include the following characteristica:
- Length: 24 to 30 Feet
- Hulk: Bilge Keel (fr: Triplan); or full-keel with yacht legs or
flat-bottom chined hulls with weighted swing keel
- Engine: Diesel engine – the adecuate size that you could easily sail the River Rhine
- Rig: Junk rig, all cords going to the cockpit
- Mast: With a mast-lowering system for single-handed sailors
- Draught: max. 1,20 m
Some of the books mentioned below are only available in German.
A list of often used technical terms (English-German) can be found in:
My small sailing dictionary
It can help to understand the German and English books alike.
Whoever is interested in this topic cannot skip the book
'Practical Junk Rig: Design, Aerodynamics and Handling'.
H. G. Hasler and his co-writer describe both their experience and several construction details and varieties.
They might help you to avoid mistakes, needless costs when buying, rebuilding or constructing such a boat.
The book is pretty expensive but it is worth every single Dollar or Pound.
Should you be lucky you might find it used and less expensive as older Editions:
Derek van Loan's book seems to be a short version of what is described and discussed
in 'Practical Junk Rig'.
To me, it seems like a "do it yourself" book:
One kind of rig, only very few varieties, few justifications but many practical advice and tipps.
He even describes the construction of a mast made of one log.
Whoever will have read "The Chinese Sailing Rig: Design and build your own junk rig"
will soon be looking for the adecuate hull.
This book is only available in English. Along with 'Practical Junk Rig' it is super.
In her book 'Voyaging on a Small Income, 2nd Edition'
Annie Hill describes how it is possible to spend several years on board a ship
with only very little money.
She provides many practical tipps for the life on board.
Due to the fact that the junk sails only provoke low costs and are easy to deal with,
they equipped their two-masted-ship 'Badger' with junk rigs.
In the book you also find several drawings about 'Badger' and many similar boats.
she tells us, how the sloop "Joshua" became "Fantail" with junk rig.
Meanwhile, Annie Hill
lives together with Trevor Robertson on board of the steel gaff cutter
Annie Hill sailed on Badger along the brasilian coast and to the Falklands.
In the book 'Building Badger & the Benford Sailing Dory Designs'
Jay Benford and Pete Hill (Ownwer of Badger) describe the conception, design and construction of Badger
and similar twin keel Dories.
Thomas E. Colvin: Cruising as a way of life.
Similar to Annie Hill, Thomas E. Colvin, talks about what is required for a life on board a ship.
He restricts himself rather on the technique and organizational things.
Moreover, he describes his three masted junk "Kung Fu-tse".
Pictures of Kung Fu-tse.
Die Dschunke: Vagabunden auf der Seidenstrasse des Meeres
describes the voyage of Axel Brümmer and Peter Glöckner on board their two junks
Kublai's Khan and Kublai's Kahn II from Asia to the Baltic Sea.
The book is available only in German.
Further books of these authors:
Auf Marco Polos Spuren: Mit dem Fahrrad von Venedig nach Peking
Weltsichten: Fünf Jahre mit dem Fahrrad unterwegs
Blaue Küste, rote Segel. Mit der Dschunke im Mittelmeer
(Blue coast red sails. With a junk in the Mediterranean Sea).
It is a report about the journeys starting at Port Grimaud, along the French Mediterranean Coast;
from one small bay to the next. His ship "Mandarin" is a junk imported from Hong Kong.
One part of the book talks about the experience with the 22-tons-junk
"Sheung She" (also starting at Port Grimaud).
The book is available only in German.
In their book 'Sailing Back in Time'
Maria Coffey and Dag Goering, who are known among
report on their nostalgic journey in two ships along the coast of Western Canada
and its world of islands and fiords:
Allen Farrell's three masted ship China Cloud as well as an single masted boat, both equipped with junk rigs.
TAI KI. Die Reise zum Ort ohne Wiederkehr.
(Tai Ki: To the Point of No Return).
Kuno Knöbl writes about his trip from China to the USA with a copied chinese junk.
The book is also available in English:
And here Joshua Slocum's two books you need not to buy. They are available online:
Voyage of the Liberdade
Building the three masted „Liberdade“ with junk sails and sailing her from
Rio de Janeiro nach Washington D.C. in 1887(!).
More than 100 yaers ago but still very interesting.
Sailing Alone Around the World
From 1895 until 1898: The first solo circumnavigation of the earth.
([en]: English Site; [fr]: French Site; [de]: German Site)
Reports (concerning the construction and sailing)
- pruveda.ch [de/en]
Ursula Rothermann and Wolfgang Hauf describe their ship "Prüveda"
as well as its restoration. Very detailed.
The best homepage which has been written on the „junk rig nowadays“ in German and English language.
Of course, they also comment on where they have already been to with their boat:
North Sea, Baltic Sea, through Dutch and German inland-waterways,
the River Danube and the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
- tuchwerkstatt.de/about/peregrine.html [de]
Greifswald owns "Peregrine".
Her owner had been in Norway and Sweden with her.
After winning the German HanseHanse-Sail (in the Class of one masted traditional ships)
he is in Norway again.
- el-lobo.co.uk [en]
Mike Perrin and Pat Whittaker have started their journey in 2007
and since then are sailing around the globe with their 39' two masted
- aorai.eu [de]
Susanne and Thomas Mallunat have sailed their two masted catamaran AORAI since 2008:
They started in Berlin, crossed the Canaries and Caribbean,
headed for Canada and its huge lakes and back again. This page also includes
The hulk is a construction of James Wharram (see below).
you can read about AORAI’s previous journeys (back then still with cutter rig).
- speedwelladventures.com [e]
Shirley Carter is singleahanded on her way with her ship
"Speedwell of Hong Kong".
- wharrambuilders.ning.com/profiles/blogs/sailing-with-pha-tiki-30-n119-1 [en]
Bertrand Fercot and his wife also own a Wharram-Katamaran, PHA,
with two masts and they are building another Wharram.
The rig appears similar to a junk sail; but there are Wishbone booms attached to the mast
and clothed with fabric on both sides (swing wing rig).
The link given above reports about sailing with PHA,
the two following links report about the building of the tiki:
Building of the Tiki 30 n°119 'PHA',
Building of the Tiki 46 n°2 'PHA#'
Note: These links might not work with older versions of InternetExplorer (= version 6) – at least
on one of my computers they don’t.
Movie: PHA in motion
- padfield.org/tim/... [en]
Tim Padfield describes on two pages how he successfully attached a junk sail
to his Folding Kayak 'Klepper Aerius 2000'.
I am planning to do the same with our 'Klepper Aerius II' but I want to use
the original Klepper leeboards or something like that.
- yachtteleport.com [en]
Chris Bray and Jess Taunton want to sail the NW Passage with their "Teleport".
- albatrossadventure.net [en]
Alan and Lisa MacBride are building the 26' heavy displacement one mastetd
junk "Albatross". Before that he built
- http://friend.ly.net/users/dadadata/canoes.html [en]
Here you find a junk sail for a canoe.
- members.aol.com/michaeljspring/... [en]
Mike Spring describes his ride on his 21 foot boat "Coromandel" to the Azores
and back again.
He is severely physically handicapped.
This single handed was only possible because of the easily and safely handeled junk sail.
- weltsichten.de [de]
In 2003 Axel Brümmer and Peter Glöckner undertook trips (from Goa/India towards Hongkong)
with one of the last existing seagoing chinese junks,
A heavy cyclone sank them in May 2003 close to Singapoore.
After the sinking of this junk an Indonesian Pinisi was converted into
'Kublai's Kahn II' (four masts).
Her journey led from Indonesia to China, from there to Germany,
then to Brazil and now (2008) back to China.
Reports and news
- dschunkensegel.de [de]
In Kiel there was a 'Atropos' with two masts built in 2006.
- nuthin-wong.blogspot.com [en]
Clive Hamman is on the way around the world with "Nuthin Wong".
- mau-yee.de [de]
The "Mau Yee" was built in Hongkong in 1962 and brought across the Indian Ocean into the Adria,
where she is still sailing today. It’s possible to join a sailing trip.
- dragonvoyage.com [en]
Ride with a three masted historical junk from Hongkong to Oman.
- sommerstravels.com [en]
Paul and Gayle are en route with „Indigo" in the Pacific.
- sailnet.com/... [en]
Finding Beauty in a Junk - Michelle Potter reports in a forum about her boat 'Moondancer'.
The boat is a sister ship of 'Badger', see Annie Hill’s book:
Voyaging on a Small Income.
- homepages.rya-online.net/paulsanders/ [en]
'Vino Tinto', annother a sister ship of 'Badger'.
- svtaz.org [en]
Here De Clarke presents photos of his TAZ.
She is a replica of Allen Farrell’s China Cloud,
see the book
'Sailing back in Time').
In his blog De Clarke reports what is presently being reconverted (2008).
This page also contains a lot of interesting photographies of other ships with junk sails.
- submarineboat.com/sailboat.htm [en]
Construction and building of the Sailboat "RV SEEKER".
- usvi.net/usvi/chuck/karljoan.htm [en]
Karl and Joan Cunningham are on there way with "KALA-D" between the Virgin Islands.
- thesimplesailor.com [en]
Roger Taylor undertook 2 journeys around GB, towards the Amazores
and to the polar circle with his own converted Corribee 21 (bilge keel), MINGMING.
- sailingcook.de [de]
with his "Candice-Marie", a Trident 24, Thomas Hau wants to take part in the
from Plymouth (GB) to Newport (USA) in 2014.
- corribee.org [en]
The shared page of the Corribee owners
with "for sale and wanted".
- leow.de/chinese/rabbit/rabbit.html [en]
Clay Everington depicts 2 Atlantic crossings with 'Rabbit' a Kingfisher 26' in 2001/2002.
- junk-rig.jimdo.com [de]
A Kingfisher 20' JR - the only 20' boat of which one model was designed and produced
with a junk rig.
You will find one of them ("Mimpi") in Greifswald Germany.
- kyoa.org.uk [en]
Kingfisher Yacht Owners Association. A lot of information on Kingfisher yachts with and withot junk rig.
- sylinnea.com [en]
A blog about building and sailing the 36 feet 'Linnea' (one mast with junk sail).
- duckworksmagazine.com/... [en]
In this Artikel "Dragon Wings" Gary Lepak describes his catamaran PUFF (the magic dragon),
which has 2 masts with junk sails.
In an other Article you can read about
How to Make a High Performance Polytarp Junk Rig
More ideas about polytarp sails:
- diy-wood-boat.com [en]
Diy Wood Boat sells materials for building and repairing wooden boats.
They also provide informations about the basics of
how to convert a bermuda rig to a junk rig.
And you find detailed information about the
of the restored
- boatsexplained.com/... [en]
Here you can read about the experiences with 'Joleta' (one mast, about 37 m² sail area).
- wharram.com [en]
James Wharram builds seaworthy catamarans in Indonesian style and even offers construction plans.
His hulls can be combined with all kind of sails.
Book by J. Wharram:
Zwei Girls zwei Katamarane [de] and
Keep multihulls simple [en]
Blog for people with Wharram boats:
Keep multihulls simple [en]
Ideas for ‚something tiny‘: It is not too difficult to build your own little sailing dinghy
togther with a little trailer.
And you can even
agglutinate a sail.
- http://friend.ly.net/users/dadadata [en]
The Cheap Pages. This is a slightly chaotic collection of links and articles
about junk sails including the
Junk Sail Tutorial
and the field report by Brian Platt about the reconstruction of a very original resembling junk:
The Chinese Sail
- atomvoyages.com/atom/Books.htm [en]
Here you do not only find interesting reports but also a list of books,
that you could /should take on your journey (Annie Hill‘ is one of them).
- drascombe-association.org.uk/articles/junkrig.html [e]
A sixteen-foot Scaffie is converted to a junk rig.
- cruisingresources.com/Junk_Rig [e]
Collction of Links on junk rigs.
- nauticaltrek.com/... [fr]
One of the few french sites on junk rigs.
Movies, Video Clips
Associations, forums, information
or junkrigassociation.org [en]
Junk and Advanced Cruising Rig Association (JRA) in England:
Junk rig association with their own technical magazine (4 editions per year)
with reportages, technical reports, experiences and forums concerning junk rigs.
- voilesdejonques.free.fr [fr]
Association "Voiles de Jonques": The French Junkrig Association
- groups.yahoo.com/group/junkrig [en]
This is a newsgroup at yahoo discussing the design and construction of boats with a junk sail.
- jesterinfo.org [en]
One oft he most famous boats with a junk sail is Blondie Hasler’s Folkeboat
that crossed the Atlantic several times.
In remembrance every two years the single handed
is taking place – for boats with a length of 20' to 30'.
Little organization and rules, no officialism, no prize, just for fun.
Even a junk sail is not mandatory.
In 2008 there will be a Jester Challenge from Plymouth to Ponta Delgada (the Azores).
Shipyards, sail makers, distributors/dealers, accessories
- bootsbauweiss.de [de]
Bootsbau Weiß in Peenemünde is specialized on wooden ships
and has already rerigged several ships with junk sails.
- tuchwerkstatt.de [de]
The sail factory Tuchwerkstatt is located on the compound of the Greifswalder Museumswerft e.V.
near the Hanse Yachts Werft.
There they produce customized sails: anything from regatta sails to traditional sails.
On demand they also produce
With profiled sail panels and up-to-date materials, excellent results can be achieved
sailing oby the wind. On this they have some experiences with their own
- bruceroberts.com [en]
Bruce Roberts sells do-it-yourself construction plans, books and DVDs
to build various motor and sailing boats, among them some with
- sailsandcanvas.co.uk [en]
In his factory in Exeter Christopher Scanes manufactures sails of all kinds
and has increasing know-how concerning junk sails, and how to cut them for modern ships.
- lucas-sails.com [en]
Producer of sails of all kinds. They produced the sails for
- sunbirdmarine.com [en]
According to several statements the globally leading specialist for design, construction
and reparation of unstayed masts masts and junk rigs. There are always some boats
- boatshed.com [en]
Many boats for sale; thorough illustration (up to 70 photographies per boat).
The online boat auctions by www.boatshed.com
- kastenmarine.com [en]
Kasten Marine Design offers many do-it-yourself construction plans.
On the website
What About The Junk Rig
you find junk sails described and in addition the 48' schooner
- hydrovane.com [en]
Hydrovane, the wind vane selfsteering, that is also used on board of El Lobo and
- windpilot.com [de, en, ...]
Wind vane selfsteering by Peter Christian Foerthmann.
- tillerbooks.com [en]
Tiller Publishing provides a lot of books on planning, building and sailing
- klicktipps.de/einkommensteuer-und-weltreise.php [de]
Wer sich auf eine Weltreise begeben will oder
aus einem anderen Grund lange mit dem Arbeiten in Deutschland aufhören will,
muss sich vorübergehend auch vom Finanzamt "verabschieden".
Was man dabei beachten muss, und welche Steuertipps es in dieser Situation gibt,
wird auf dieser Seite beschrieben.
WhWhooever wants to make a round-the-world-trip or wants to stop working in Germany
for another reason needs to temporarily say good bye to the local tax office.
This page gives Germans some tips concerning taxes and other important things
that need to be considered in this situation.
The Danish port guide online.
- wikipedia.de [de]
Articles by Wikipedia:
Junk (Ship) [en],
Junk Rig [en],
Last not least:
The German Association to Save Castaways.
(Die Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger DGzRS).
They come when you need them most urgently and the DGzRS needs us:
It is only financed by donations!
Have a good trip!
And: May there always be a hand’s breadth of water beneath your keel!