As a contrary sort I’ve been interested in this topic for a long time. People have been sailing for thousands of years and have invented myriads of ways to build boats, sails, and equipment.
When Magellan sailed his square rigged vessel to Guam, he was greeted by natives who were rapidly sailing circles around him with their proas. Watch this video of a sailing canoe in the Marshall Islands : Marshall Canoe, its a real eye-opener. No fiberglass, expensive sails, fancy boat shoes, autofurlers, etc. and I’ll bet few of our boats could match the speed at which they are traveling. Look closely, they brought some crabs along for lunch.
All over the rivers of China, old women and kids propel sampans using a Yuloh, this simple device for sculling is a lot greener than outboard motors and requires a notch on the transom for the oar and a simple rope attached to the oar with a knot. Plus you don’t have to lug gasoline around.
Junk rigs sail all over the world and sail like witches, even when they have holes in them to let some of the wind through. While I’m not ready to throw in the towel on my sloop yet, I’m always fascinated by these different ways to solve common problems and amazed at the ingenuity of human beings. As a last link, here’s the cheap sailing pages to explain these and other rigs Cheap pages Craig has put together a lot of ideas we can look at for our boats. It’s a great way to wile away some time while waiting for the season to start.
Gary Guss – Scribe