Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lug Sail for Paku

The Pete Culler Skiff, Paku needs a sail rig. The plans by the master of small boat design call for a sprit rig, but (not to contradict Captn' Pete) I like the versatility of the balanced lug and it's an attractive sail, too. I don't think Pete would be offended.
At least that's where I am today. I have a very nice old solid, round spruce stick about fifteen feet tall and about three inches in diameter at the mast step. I'd convert a spruce mast I made a few years ago for the boom and the light boom that went with that rig would be the yard. The combined weight of these three sticks is probably thirty five pounds.

The skiff is narrow and flat bottomed, so the risk is making the sail too large or the rig too heavy. It may be necessary to add lead weight to the centerboard to increase the lateral resistance and stability.
Here are some very good tips on rigging and tuning a lug sail.

I'd have to build a centerboard and a rudder. Then the Marine Board will require a license. In my opinion, a small row boat with an auxiliary sail need not be registered any more than the row boat without the sail, but that's a topic for another day.
(There's some legislation afoot that would require a fee for "non-registered" boats, which are all small human powered vessels currently exempt, yet another controversial subject.)

I just have to know how this little skiff handles in a stiff breeze!


Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to whether this vessel with its three rowing stations may have been designed to be rowed Randan-style (a sweep at bow and stern, sculls amidships.) Is that something you have experienced? We have built a similar hull and, searching for ways to best use the odd number of rowers, we stumbled on this very efficient method, rather obscure now but common in the 19th century.

Edwin Gardner
Charleston, SC

doryman said...

This is a Pete Culler design if that helps your research.
I have not read that Pete suggested the Randan style though I see it might be a good option. We have never had three rowers and with two we use the two aft stations and row with sculls. Which design have you built?
I can be reached at
and would like to hear more about your project.

Matthew said...

I love your blog. Thank you so much. I am starting to build the 18 1/2 Culler skiff myself. I have had my own thoughts on rig changes, and wonder what you think. I am tempited to replace the single 90 sq ft spritsail with a 60ish sprit stepped a little forward and a 30ish leg o' mutton stepped at the aft end of the case. Culler approved of two sail rigs at around 100 sq ft, and I am itchy to try a two masted rig.

doryman said...

I set up a lug sail of about 65 sq ft on Paku last fall. The wind was a steady 7 knots and the sail seemed small. I'd like to increase that to at least 100 sq. ft. and try again. She was reluctant to tack and slow on a reach. The reluctance to finish a tack suggests the sail area is too far forward, so maybe your mizzen would do the trick.

Here is a link to my Flickr site and a set from that day. The photos of Paku are toward the end. As you can see, headroom is the big issue with a boat this low to the water.