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sail-world.com -- Here's why to sail in an engineless junk-rigged schooner

Here's why to sail in an engineless junk-rigged schooner    
Mon, 7 Oct 2013

For an all-round cruising boat, what would you choose? - maybe a Beneteau, a Bavaria or a Van de Stadt design? Perhaps Moody, an Oyster or even a catamaran? Most modern cruising sailors will choose the best comfort they can afford to combine with the best sailing - but not all of us. Here read why one Ocean Cruising Club member, Bob Groves, sailing with his wife Kathy, chose an engineless junk rigged schooner to build and go cruising:

We are often asked why we choose to sail a junk rigged schooner for offshore sailing when more technologically improved sailing rigs are available today. Up until recently the response would be that we always were intrigued by the rig and simply wanted to sail one.

Having been aboard a Colvin Gazelle at Marina Hemingway outside of Havana, Cuba only increased the desire to build and sail a junk rigged boat. We built a Benford Badger design and have sailed it from Canada and back on the Atlantic circuit with stops in the Azores, Portugal, Morocco, Canaries, Cape Verdes, and Caribbean before returning home to Canada directly from Jamaica.

Easy Go, the name of our boat, is a junk rigged dory schooner, engineless, with auxiliary power in the form of a Chinese yuloh**.

** The Chinese yuloh is a viable alternative auxiliary propulsion devise for small to medium size sailing yachts.

Kathy and I built this boat in Canada close to Lake Erie. Previous to this boat we had sailed a Grampian 26 on the Great Lakes and as far afield as the Caribbean. The Grampian, also named Easy Go was a conventional sloop rigged boat.

The best reason for sailing a junk rig became apparent during the 3200 NM nonstop 37 day passage from Port Antonio, Jamaica to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. Port Antonio is located on the north shore of Jamaica. A choice of beating through the Windward Passage and then a downwind run in the Old Bahamas Channel or taking the old sailing route through the Yucatan Channel and riding the Gulf Stream is the decision to make.

We chose the traditional downwind/current riding route along the south shore of Cuba and on north. Leaving on April 29, 2009 gave us a pleasant overnight passage to the first landfall off Cabo Cruz, Cuba where we not only passed by the great anchorage we had stayed at previously under the watchful eye of the lighthouse but were visited by a blue whale that dove under the keel at the very last moment giving us a little anxiety.

Our next landfall was off Isla de Juventud, another one of our favourite places when sailing the south coast of Cuba.

Our final view of Cuba was the lighthouse at Cabo San Antonio, the western most point of Cuba. Fishing was excellent with good catches of tuna.


Turning the corner inside of the major shipping lanes off this cape we headed north east in the general direction of the Dry Tortugas. While the current was in our favour it was very weak and we had an easterly wind during our passage of the Florida Straits all the way from Cabo San Antonio until we were off Key Largo in the Florida Keys.


While we have experienced beating to windward for short periods of time during our last two years we had not come on a time where we would be beating day and night for the better part of a week.

The strength of the junk rig in beating to windward became rapidly apparent and appreciated for its steady pull and comfortable ride as we tacked across to the Dry Tortugas on a starboard tack then switched over to a port tack until we saw the lights of Havana then back to starboard tack to head us towards Miami.

On this portion of the passage we picked up our first Dorado (dolphin fish) and started our time proven salting and drying. Without a motor, electricity is not possible to provide refrigeration.

We have researched and successfully utilized traditional methods of food preservation for some time and no longer desire refrigeration in any form.

You can follow the adventures of the Groves and Easy Go on their blog: www.sveasygo.blogspot.ca

About the Ocean Cruising Club:
The Ocean Cruising Club is an international club for cruisers. Founded in 1954 by the late Humphrey Barton, the Club known affectionately as the OCC exists to promote long-distance cruising in all its forms. It has no premises, regarding the oceans of the world as its clubhouse. However, it enjoys visitors' rights with a number of major clubs world-wide.

Membership is about what the applicant has done, rather than who he or she is. The sole qualification for membership is the completion of a continuous ocean passage of at least 1000 nautical miles, measured along the rhumb line, in a vessel under 70 feet, and is open to anyone aboard, either skipper or certified as competent by the skipper.

by Bob Groves, Ocean Cruising Club



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