Cheap Guitars, Proas, Sailing Canoes, Chinese Lugsails, Plywood Boats,
•Odd Sails from Polytarp•
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CHECK OUT the sailing canoe pages, by Dan Miller and yours truly, for information on Rushton's batwing sails. When more info arrives the descriptions will be more elaborate.

And there will be info on making your own batwing sail. In the meantime, check out these diagrams of gunter sails.

(Update: I've made a prototype batwing sail and tested it. It seems to work very well. I've taken some photos and when they come back I'll scan them.)

And here is Robert Laine's great little application which will give you panel shapes for homemade sails (...arrrgh, Windows only). Sailcut4 is for three- and four-sided sails. Sailcut8 will take care of junk sails, and with a little care, batwing-style battened sails.

But note that both Batwing sails and Chinese lugsails do not require cambered panels. They can be one big flat piece of material. Of course cambered sails will have more power when sailing to windward.

I MADE the junk sail and the small mizzen sail (called a dandy by oldtimers) on my canoe out of polytarp. Here's a link to my Junk Sail Tutorial:

Making a Junk Sail

I've also built a sprit-boomed leg of mutton sail, a sharpie-style battened sail, and an experimental battened lugsail with bendy airfoil battens. I'm working up a small crabclaw sail of the sort that proas use.

How to make a small sharpie sail (this one is really a good performer for all its flat simplicity):

How to make a small balanced lugsail:

One of the most interesting small-boat books I've read is the obscure Sea-boats, Oars and Sails by Irish yachtsman Conor O'Brien. A discussion of some of his ideas can be found at this link. While I don't agree with his hatred for boomed sails, he has some very well-worked-out simplifications for "small boats" (meaning 20 or 24-footers) and I wish he'd had a wider audience for some of these.

Illustration from Dixon Kemp's
Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing,
first edition, 1878.

 From Cruising World: Cap'n Freddy

Yep. Real polytarp sails on a real (errr, tob-o-plastic) sailboat.

They got Cap'n Freddy from Massachusetts to Florida. He couldn't afford anything else.

So why can't you rig your little craft with something made from tarp? Oddly enough, many older and traditional rigs are either insensitive to sail cut, or just plain flat-cut. The batwing, dipping lug and the crabclaw are examples of the latter. Bermudian sails are probably the toughest to whip up from tarp.

cap'n freddy's boat

Photo by F. B Silva.

 Diagrams: The Gunter Rig


A simple batwing gunter and mizzen (Practical Canoeing, "Tiphys", 1885).

More about it.

A more complex batwing gunter (Practical Canoeing, "Tiphys", 1885).

A detailed description.


Argonaut's "Bafter" or Bailey sails (based on a drawing in Forest & Stream). These are described in more detail on the Sailing Canoe pages.

Baden-Powell's "Gunter-Sprit Rig" (...Yacht & Boat Sailing, Dixon Kemp, 1878).

Click on it for a more drawings & old Baden-Powell's description.

For another take on the gunter-sprit idea, see the discussion of Conor O'Brien's ideas on seaworthy boat rigs, found here. The Cheap Page or to the Top.


2.7 01/26/01