THE SPRITSAIL rig is much used on small boats all round the coast of England. It is an exceedingly handy and safe rig, and the spritsail will set flatter and is better adapted for turning to windward than almost any other form of sail. It has no boom or gaff, but is extended by along diagonal spar called the sprit, which tapers away at the two extremities, the upper end of it fitting into an eye on the peak, the lower end fitting into a loop on the mast called the snotter.
The snotter (see Fig. 25) is a grommet which is placed round the mast, and then is seized in the middle so as to form an eye for the sprit.
In using this rig, the sail is hoisted first; one end of the sprit is inserted into the eye of the peak, and then the other end is inserted into the snotter. Lastly, the snotter is pushed up the mast as far as it will go, bringing the sail quite flat. It is well to have a tackle for hoisting the snotter and preventing it from slipping down the mast. lt is important that the snotter should be quite sound. There is a great strain on it, and should it break, the sprit end may drive a hole through the bottom of a boat or work some other serious damage.
A spritsail can be brailed up along the mast in a moment by means of a line leading through a block on the mast and passing round the sail. A glance at any Thames sailing barge at anchor will show how this is done.
An old ship's long-boat provided with a sprit mainsail, sprit mizzen, and jib, as in Fig. 26, is a very convenient sort of craft in which to take one's first lessons in sailing. When it blows hard the mainsail can be stowed, and the boat will sail under jib and Mizzen, or these last two sails can be taken in and the mainsail alone be left standing.
The mizzen sheet, it will be observed, is rove through a sheave-hole at the end of a bumpkin, a small fixed spar projecting from the stern of the boat.
The DIPPING L UG is a powerful sail very well adapted for sea work, and a favourite with fishermen and other professional sailors, but it cannot be recommended to the amateur; for at every tack the sail has to be lowered and passed round to the other side of the mast. This necessitates plenty of sea room, and would be an awkward operation to undertake while turning up a narrow and crowded channel. To handle a dipping lug with safety in a stiff breeze requires considerable experience both on the part of the steersman and of the hand or hands to whom the dipping of the sail is entrusted.
Any one who wishes to rig a boat in this fashion should read W.H.S.'s description, in the Yacht Racing Calendar and Review for this year, of a very useful invention of his, whereby the dipping of a lug is made easy and the possibility of bungling in tacking reduced to a minimum.
The STANDING LUG, though not so powerful a sail as the dipping lug, is far more convenient; as the sai1 has not to be lowered in tacking. The tack, instead of being carried forward, is brought down to the mast, where it is hooked on to an iron hook if the sail be a small one, and if the sail be a large one it is fitted with a tackle, so that the tack can be bowsed down after the sail is hoisted. The yard is swung at about one-third of its length, where it has a strop to pass over the hook on the traveller — an iron ring on the mast to which the end of the halyard is attached, and which prevents the sail blowing away from the mast
In order to ensure a lug sail that will stand well, the peak should be cut high, as in the drawing. It is a common fault to cut the head of a lug sail too square. Such a sail can never be made to set flatly. A short beamy dinghy with one lug is a handy little craft for the amateur; but if the boat is a long one she will be better with a jib and mizzen, as in Fig. 27.
THE LEG-OF MUTTON SAIL.— A very handy rig and one that requires no spars but the masts is that represented in Fig. 28. The masts though long are slight, as there is little strain on them. Each sail is hoisted to its masthead by one halyard, and its luff is kept close to the mast by hoops or more usually by a lacing. A boat thus rigged is possibly the safest of any, and is not easily capsized.
The rigs we have so far described are well adapted for a novice, insomuch as they need no booms. As soon as a sail is provided with a boom the danger of sailing is much increased. If you let go the sheet of a sail that has no boom — a spritsail, for instance — it flaps away from the mast innocently like a- flag. Put a boom on it, and you at once have a great surface of canvas extended rigidly and offering the greatest possible resistance to the wind. When running before a strong wind a jibe, and especially if it be an unpremeditated jibe, of a sail bent on to a long boom becomes a source of danger.
Thus a green hand or a careless person cannot be safely trusted with a boom sail on a squally day; but when the novice has acquired the rudiments of sailing, and employs that constant caution and watchfulness of his ever-open weather-eye which are indispensable qualities for a sailor, he will most certainly, and very rightly too, prefer the boom sail. For a sail that has no boom is most unsatisfactory if one wishes to get any speed out of a boat. When running free it curves into a bag, and only presents half its area to the wind. It never stands flat, except when the boat is close-hauled, and not always then, unless the sheet is led exactly to the right place; and though a sail without a boom jibes with greater safety, it is much more liable to accidental jibes than one with a boom.
THE BALANCE LUG.— The favourite sail for small centreboard craft in England is undoubtedly the balance lug. Most of the racing boats on the Upper Thames are fitted with this sail; some have jibs, others jibs and mizzens, besides the mainsail; but we will confine ourselves to describing the single-sail centre-board dinghy, which little craft is perhaps unrivalled for the purpose of single-handed sailing on a river.
A handy boat is one fifteen feet long, with five feet beam. She should have a flat floor, and therefore shallow draught. The mast is supported with wire shrouds, and is fitted into what is called a tabernacle, that is, a wooden case for the heel of the mast, having a pivot through it, on which pivot the mast is easily lowered when the boat is passing under a bridge.
The sail, as is shown in Fig. 29, is hoisted on a yard similar to that of a standing lug, but the foot of the sail is laced to a boom, and extends some distance in front of the mast. One end of the tack is fastened to the boom, where it crosses the mast, and the other end of it is secured to the mast.
The tack is a most important rope in a balance-lug boat, for after the sail has been hoisted with the halyard and it is required to give that last haul on the sail which brings it to its proper tautness, a much smaller amount of power will do this when applied to the tack than if applied to the halyard. An efficient tack purchase is what is known as a watch tackle, which is represented in Fig. 12. When after sailing a while the ropes have stretched, and the sail is no longer flat, it is with this tackle, and not with the halyard, that one sets it up again. A balance lug requires more frequent setting up to preserve its flatness than any other sort of sail.
In a small dinghy, no purchase is needed for the halyards; the sail will lower more easily and quicker without one. The tabernacle also is unnecessary, as the mast can be easily unstepped.
The sail is kept close to the mast by an iron traveller; but if the sail be cut with a high peak it will be found that the traveller has a tendency to prevent the sail from lowering completely. A traveller is also liable to jam if the mast is not kept well greased.
On this account the iron traveller is dispensed with on most of the Upper Thames boats, and instead of it, a line is fastened to the yard, which passes round the mast and is rove through an eye on the yard. When the sail is up, this line is hauled taut, and prevents the yard from blowing away from the mast. This method will be understood by referring to Fig. 30.
A well-cut balance lug properly hoisted should be nearly as flat as a board. The fact of the tack being some way down the boom prevents the pressure of the wind from lifting the after-end of the boom and so forming a belly in the sail, as is the case with the ordinary fore-and-aft sail. A balance-lug sail is always rigid; the boom and yard can only move together, and this rigidity renders it somewhat unfit for rough water, where it is apt to considerably strain mast and boat.
The balance lug is rather an awkward sail to lower, and as it is impossible to brail it up, or lower the peak, or trice up the tack to temporarily reduce the canvas in a squall, as can be done with other rigs, the sail has to be lowered bodily if the boat is overpowered by the wind. Thus, if one is overtaken by a violent squall while running before the wind, the balance lug is perhaps the most dangerous sail one can have on a boat.
So as to facilitate reefing, a grommet is sometimes placed on each reef cringle at the luff of a balance-lug sail. In taking down a reef, the fore end of the boom is thrust into this eye and an earing is thus dispensed with.
The usual method of fitting the sheet of a balance-lug sail is to fasten one end of it to one side of the stern, and then to lead it through a single block strapped on to the boom, and through another block fastened to the other side of the stern.
THE UNA RIG.— Whereas the balance lug is the favourite English rig for small river craft, the Cat or Una rig is generally preferred by the Americans, and it undoubtedly possesses some important advantages over the other rig.
The cat boat (Fig. 31), being intended for very shallow waters, has the least possible draught. This boat, consequently, has great beam, and is often quite flat-bottomed. The centre-board is of wood or iron. The mast is stepped much more forward than in a balance-lug boat, and carries one large sail laced to a boom and gaff. The cat boat, in our opinion, will turn to windward in smooth water even more smartly than a balance lug, and as a rule will row more easily, for the displacement is very small, and in consequence of the stability given by the great beam, little, often no, ballast is used.
In England, it is usual for a Una boat to have but one halyard, which serves to hoist both peak and throat. We prefer two halyards, one for the throat, one for the peak, the latter leading aft, so that it can be let go in a squall, and thus reduce the sail by one-half.
The author had recently a good deal of experience in an eighteen-foot cat boat among the quays of the Gulf of Mexico and on an extensive lake in Florida, and he came to the conclusion that for such work the cat rig was far handier than the balance lug, especially when, as was often the case, there was a large party of ladies on board.
This was an entirely open boat, carrying no ballast, and having a wooden centre-board. She was therefore very light for her size, and could be rowed with singular ease.
The lake was subject to sudden and violent squalls, and it was very convenient to be able to let go the peak halyards without leaving the tiller, and have them up again in a moment as soon as the squall had passed, without disturbing the passengers in the least. Had the sail been the uncompromising balance lug, the whole sail would have had to be lowered in a body on to the heads of the passengers.
A topping lift, always belayed so as to feel the weight of the boom, is indispensable in a cat boat, else the end of the boom would drop into the water when the peak was lowered.
Strong winds would spring up suddenly on this lake, so that the boat would be quite overpowered even under close-reefed sail, and it became impossible to tack home until the wind dropped. Neither was it possible to row back, for the very lightness of a cat boat renders her a troublesome boat to pull against the wind. She is blown over the surface of the water before the wind, despite all the efforts of the oarsman. Now, as the swamps which surround this lake also made it out of the question to land and walk home, one was liable to find one's self weather-bound among the dismal cypress swamps at the further end of the lake for three days at a stretch while a " norther" was blowing. The author almost entirely did away with the chance of such an unpleasant adventure by putting what is known as a balance reef into the sail, a plan he strongly recommends to all those who would sail Una boats or small sloops on broad waters liable to sudden storms.
The BALANCE REEF (Fig. 3) extends diagonally across the sail from the throat to the clews. In taking in this reef, the jaws of the gaff are lowered till they touch the boom, and are there tied. The fall of the throat halyards will do for this purpose. When the reef has been taken down and the peak is hoisted again, it will be found that the gaff is nearly parallel to the mast, and a very snug little triangular sail is formed, under which the boat will tack or run — with boom well topped up — with safety; and the moment the peak halyard is let go, down the sail will fall into the bottom of the boat without making any fuss.
The boat we are speaking of was remarkably cranky, but she would behave well in a strong gale under her balance reef.
The balance reef is much employed by our fishermen and coasters, but scarcely ever on board yachts. I believe that many amateurs consider this, together with some other useful wrinkles, to be unyachty.
From what we have said, it will be seen that the Una rig offers many advantages over its rival, the balance lug, but it likewise has some serious disadvantages.
The Una boat is not easily capsized — the beam prevents that — but she soon becomes altogether overpowered by sea and wind. Like all flat-bottomed boats, she pounds heavily into a head sea and is very wet. The weight of the mast, being so far forward, makes her somewhat liable to run her nose under water and fill. She steers wildly too before a sea, and will broach to more readily than other boats, while the length of her boom renders an accidental jibe dangerous.
THE SLOOP.— Boats and small yachts are often sloop-rigged.
There is considerable discrepancy of opinion as to what constitutes the difference between a sloop and a cutter. At any rate, the generally understood distinction among boating men in England is, rightly or wrongly, that whereas a sloop's forestay is carried to the end of a fixed bowsprit or an iron bumpkin, the forestay of a cutter is carried to the stem of the vessel; and thus the sloop can only set one large foresail, instead of a foresail and a jib as a cutter does.
We will adopt this definition of a sloop, which is represented in Fig. 32. As the rig is in every other respect the same as that of a cutter, we will reserve an explanation of its different parts till the next chapter, wherein the cutter rig will be discussed.
The sloop rig is not one to be altogether recommended, except for racing purposes on a river. For cruising purposes, if the boat be a small one, one of the rigs above mentioned is preferable to the sloop rig. If the boat be a good-sized one, it is better to make a cutter or yawl yacht of her at once; for a sloop's big foresail is an awkward sail to handle in rough weather.
The following important rules apply to the sailing of open boats, such as we have described in this chapter :—
Carefully coil your halyards after hoisting sail, so that they will not get entangled and jam if you have to let go in a hurry.
See that your mainsheet is coiled out of every one's way. Many a boat has been capsized owing to a man's leg getting entangled in a sheet.
Do not belay your mainsheet, but hold it in your hand; if the strain be great, take one turn with the sheet round a cleat or pin.
Sit to windward while steering.
If struck by a squall, luff up to it, or ease the sheet, or do both.
Always luff up in the wind before hoisting or lowering sail.
Never climb the mast of a small boat. If anything is wrong aloft, lower the mast to set it right.
Belay a halyard by taking a few turns round its cleat. Do not put a half-hitch on the top of the turns.
Do not jibe in the middle of a squall, if you can avoid doing so. If a jibe is unavoidable, lower your peak first; haul in your mainsheet, and pay it out on the other side, so as to lessen the jerk as the boat jibes.
If it is blowing hard, and all your crew are sitting to windward, remember that a sudden drop in the wind may cause the boat to capsize to windward. Unless your companions are experienced boatmen, do not carry so much sail as to necessitate their all sitting to windward.