Tag Archives: alberg 37

Islay to Colonsay and alterations

While anchored in Port Ellen, Islay I managed to finish a few alterations to the rig.

junk main sheet

first pull from the bottom twist

Regarding the main leech twist I reversed the order of the main sheet so that now the fist pull is from the top, not the bottom. As far as I can observe, this new arrangement has reduced the incidence of twist if not completely eliminated it yet. I have tried to unearth photographic evidence of this but have yet to get a good shot of the new arrangement. I did manage to discover a shot of the old first-pull-from-the-bottom sheeting arrangement and concomitant leech twist. I will attempt to capture photographic ‘proof’ of reduced twist with the new first-pull-from-the-top arrangement next time I sail off the wind to a sufficient degree.

Two improvements has been made to the foresail sheeting arrangement:

fore-sheet blocks junk

spaced fore-sheet blocks

First, I have separated the three deck sheet blocks from around one inch apart to around two inches apart. This new arrangement is to avoid the sheet parts getting tangled and locked up – particularly when the the sheet went slack during reefing and jybing (or jibing, or jibbing – not sure how to spell it – and automated spell checkers don’t comprehend sailing terminology ;)). The larger spacing seems to have worked and I have not experienced any jamming so far :).

fore-sail gallows

foresail gallows sheet deflector

The second improvement was introducing a fore-sheet gallows deflector so the sheets wouldn’t get stuck on the side of the fore gallows when jybing. I have observed from pictures of Jock MacLeod’s Ron Glas that half circle hoops were placed between leech and blocks to enable the sheet to slide from one side to the other without snagging on anything (like my neck, which I experienced when coming over from the Republic of Newfoundland last year).

I’m not sure what the hoops were constructed from but I think half inch pvc pipe would work well. Not having any plastic piping of sufficient length at and I have set up a “temporary” fix – fixing a line from the gunnels outside the life lines to the top of the gallows and then back down to the gunnels on the other side. Cheap, easy, fast – just like me. So far it actually seems to be working with no snags to report. (By the way, I place ‘temporary’ on quotation marks because some of my temporary fixes have been known to stay in situ for years ;).)

– – –

With the current addition of Caer Edin born Alison Roe to the journeys of Ara’ Deg, I acknowledge that the readership of this online chronicle may be expanding beyond Junk rig enthusiasts and those seeking information on the evolving technology of adapting Junk rigs to Western hulls – to include Alison’s North Atlantic fan base.

Accordingly, with the help of Alison I hope to expand the scope of this web log to include some info on our travels around the west coast of Scotland and increase its general ‘human interest’ aspect.

Tying it all together is the fact that the modern use and development of the Junk rig got its start in Scotland some 50 years ago with the pioneering efforts of Jock MacLeod and Blondie Hassler cumulating in their definitive work on the subject in 1987 – Practical Junk Rig. There is probably no more appropriate place in the world for a modern Junk-rigged schooner like Ara’ Deg to hang out. I’ve yet to observe another Junk-rig here but it’s still early days.

Port Askaig

Port Askaig






Port Erin Isle of Man

Chicken Rock Isle of Man

Passing Chicken Rock approach to Isle of Man

Early morning Monday 10 June we set off from Dunmore East County Waterford and motor-sailed  against a fresh southerly around Hook Lighthouse to follow the southern coast of Eire before turning NE into St. George’s Strait and into the Irish Sea.

Shortly after departing Dunmore East the bottom most sheet span attachment to the mainsail boom severed itself causing the span block to become detached and its adjoining sheet block to become jammed into the main sheet blocks on deck by the transom. I tied back the blocks to the wind vane assemblage to allow the sheet to run freely again and lowered the main sail by two panels to regain full control.

Southern tip of Isle of Man

Southern tip of Isle of Man

I contemplated re-attaching the lower sheet span at sea but then decided against it as the fuss and risk involved in working on a rig while under way didn’t seem worth the gain so we continued to sail NNE towards the Isle of Man with a full fore sail and a two panel reefed  main.

We made good passage under a fresh SW breeze and arrived in Port Erin Isle of Man early in the afternoon of Tuesday 11 June covering a distance of around 135 nautical miles in around 30 hours.

port of erin

Moored in Port of Erin

Once tied up to a secure visitor’s mooring buoy in Port Erin harbour I re-attached the lower sheet span to the boom with ease. The line had chafed itself against the steel track used to secure the sail. My new arrangement avoids that from happening.

Ara’Deg seems to be taking well to its new steel mast despite its formidable 350 kg weight. All in all the boat remains well balanced without being too tender. I am both pleased and relieved by its performance so far.

alison roeMy sailing partner Alison still suffered bouts of seasickness on this latest passage but not nearly as severe as the initial journey from  Wales to Eire – which indicates to me that her ‘sealegs’ are starting to grow :).

Our next planned excursion will be a 105 nautical mile journey from here, the Isle of Man, to Port Ellen on the Scottish island of Islay.  Assuming that wind predictions remain consistent, we will be off early Friday morning 14 June with a ETA of around 24 hours.

Both sails up

junk schooner sais

so far so good 🙂

Today, for the first time, I was able to hoist both sails to see how fitted together. I was relieved to observe that the finalised sails are setting very similar to my original plan on paper.Sometimes things work!

Unconventional perhaps, but I have gone ahead with contrasting colours – black and white. I originally planned to build both sails in black but was unable to source canvas of suitable weight in black for the main but came across 54 inch white canvas (Dacron) at a super price. So white it was.

junk rig foresail

Nice set of the foresail

You might notice that the foresail only has batten pockets from the leech to where the batten parrels attach whereas the main has pockets all the way across and gaps for the batten parrels. This is because I made the main first and later found i needed more flexibility when it came to attaching the batten parrels. I had to extend the main parrels right to the luff to prevent them from binding when furling the main. I may modify the main like the foresail but for now it’s working well.

I haven’t got running topping lifts for the foresail yet as I can’t seem to find any nylon thimbles locally – just clunky galvanized ones that are heavy and could chaff the sail, or so I fear.

The biggest problem to solve is where to position all the running lines – and where to store the bulk of excess line when the sails are up and working. So far I have the halyards, luff hauling parrels and yard hauling parrels coming into the starboard of the hatch (the wider side because the hatch is on the port side of the boat) and the to sheet lines held by jam cleats on the port side.

The three main downhauls come together as a bundle on the starboard side also. I have yet to figure out how exactly to manage the topping lifts lines (4) and fore downhauls (3). I will upload more details and pictures of the layout in a few days.

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Main sail hoisted

schooner junk sailAt last the main sail is on the mast. Since this picture was taken I have added the Yard hauling parrel and Luff hauling parrel – although they make little difference to the appearance or shape when the sail is not working.

alberg 37 junk schoonerI have decided not to extend and sheet batten number 2 (second from Yard) although I have seen this done in pictures of other modern Junks. The extra sheeted batten would introduce a more complex sheeting arrangement with possible issues of undesirable twist when hard pressed. This is something I may experiment with when I have more time but right now I’m focused on getting both sails up and running and ready for a sail to Newfoundland, then Ireland.

The foresail has been sown and is connected to its Yard ready for battens to be fitted. Will update with a picture in a few days.

Masts installed

alberg 37 traditional rig


Finally on the 19th of September everything came together – tides, weather and available

junk rig foremast installation

installing the foremast

The whole process went smoothly without incident thanks in part to a very skilful crane operator.

After some adjustment of the step wedges the masts seem to be center aligned and the foremast with a 5% (more or less) forward rake.

Now I have to shape and fit wedges around the mast at the partners and fit a mast boot/coat to keep the rain out.

This is a major milestone in the project and I feel it’s all downhill from here. In the remaining time I have here (flying home on Halloween) I will work on constructing the yards, battens, booms and sails.

I fly back on May 1 (leaving the boat on the hard for the winter) and will finish any left over work and begin the sea trials. When all the bugs are ironed out I plan to do some cruising around Newfoundland before heading back to Ireland and Wales.

junk rig masts


Progress – masts, new fuel tank & canvas

main mastI have finally finished hewing out the basic shape of the main mast with the foremast pole in line. The whole process took about 14 or so hours done over 4 days. The main delay is weather as I wait for a few days of sun / no rain to work on the poles.

I’m not due to start again for another 4 days due to a series of showery days ahead.

To finish the poles I will need to power plane, belt sand, linseed oil, and fit the masthead crane complete with blocks and rope. The crane has yet to be fabricated.

fuel tankBack on the boat I have fitted the newly built fuel tank and will now need to fabricate partners and step.

I have ordered all the canvas, grommets, thread and basting tape from saibrite. It’s due to arrive next week.

Getting Underway

junk-rig-mastThe mast poles have finally arrived and re-shapping then has begun.

I must admit I’m a little daunted at the size and weight of these poles as well as the task at hand to thin them down to the required dimensions. I’ve been using the technique outlines by Derek van Loan using a circular saw to cut to the required depths and then removing the excess wood with hatchet and chisel.

I think it’s going to take me longer that the few days I first anticipated as progress is slow, and now inclement weather has a put a halt to the works.

alberg-37-bilgeBack in Charlottetown I have removed the central fuel tank to make room for the main mast. It will be stepped almost to the bottom of the bilge just a inch above where the ballast starts. I’m leaving a gap so the bottom of the mast will be able to breath as well as allow any water to flow to the deep bilge below the engine.