Friday, October 15, 2021

______________________ A JUNK NAMED 'FANTAIL' _____________________

Fantail with her new colour scheme

The Owen Woolley designed (circa 1970s), New Zealand built Raven is a whole lot of boat packed into 26 feet. Specs on the Raven here:

'Fantail' (above) is a Raven that was converted to Junk rig by Annie Hill, a holder of the esteemed Blue Water Medal and the author of a couple of well known books 'Sailing On A Small Income' and 'Brazil And Beyond'. 'Fantail' was sold a while ago to new owners but you can get more information about 'Fantail' (her conversion to Junk Rig etc) and Annie Hills current Whangarei built boat 'FanShi' here:

Video of 'Fantail' under her new ownership is here: 

The diagram below showing the comparison of the current junk rig with the original masthead sloop rig shows that in terms of  fore and aft 'working sails' there is not much loss of sail area. Of course what is lost in sail area is more than made up by handiness and simplicity. In the same manner as the gaff rig, the junk rig is powerful down wind.

I like the aesthetic of the simple raised deck, a design feature that provides strength to the structure and a roominess below that is common to raised deck boats of all sizes. When combined with the simple Junk rig the outcome is pleasing. 
Second hand Ravens go for fire sale prices at the moment (as do many of the older fiberglass yachts). A Raven make over and the construction of a simple, relatively much cheaper (home made) Junk rig would make a nice project. Hmmmmm.


Bursledon Blogger said...

I think the Raven is a cracking little boat, but not sure I'd bother changing the rig, why not stick to an easy to handle sloop rig, slab reef main and roller furling genoa ?

Alden Smith said...

A very, very good question Max. One answer is something like the one given to the question, "Why do people climb mountains?" - because they are there is of course the answer. So there is something about the mountain in all of this.
Other reasons cover the spectrum from the rational to the romantic to an embracing of the personally novel and untried. Also:

- On a raised deck boat with a regular sloop rig it is more difficult to hold on when going forward to put the tack of the main over the reefing hook on the boom.

- It is also harder and more dangerous on a raised deck boat to go forward to change down to a smaller jib, if like me you don't really like the set of a reefed roller furling jib and reefing a jib becomes all jib hanks and fore stays.

- As I am now 70 years old with arthritis in my right knee and left ankle my agility is a bit compromised and the idea of doing most of the work from the safety of a cockpit becomes more of an imperative - this work is simplicity itself with a well thought out Junk rig. Reefing and increasing sail with a Jung rig is very simple and very fast.

- In my reveries and enthusiasms for new boats and rigs and projects the spirit of Blondie Hasler and 'Jester; the likes of Roger Taylor and his boat 'Ming Ming' and Annie Hill and the exploits of her previous boat 'Fantail' which is featured in this post come to the fore in my imagination (there are many others).

- And finally there is something of an ancient wisdom in the Jung Rig. Notwithstanding it's relatively slower performance than the modern sloop rig when going to windward there is something about its simplicity, speed of sail area changing, reliability and handiness that is attractive.

Bursledon Blogger said...

Fair points well made Alden, that ultimately come down to personal preference, certainly a rig which is easily handled from the cockpit or even the Saloon as Jester has many benefits for safety and comfort, handiness close quarters important, I personally the use of low stressed materials which is good for avoidance of breakage and or easy repair - gaff, Gunter and junk rig all have this characteristic

Look forward to reading this if you go forward with a project


Alden Smith said...

Yes, personal preference combined with our individual life context is the basis on which we make most of our choices I guess.

There is no doubt that if you are racing a yacht or want to go to windward fast, then the best way to do this is in a boat with a tall rig with a triangular shaped mains'l and jib on a highly stressed and expensive exotic materials rig. This is the best solution in the racing context whether racing others or racing yourself back to the office after a weekend away. But of course the broader view of sailing brings into play a myriad of personal uses of a boat and the field becomes one of 'horses for courses'.

There is much written about low stress rigs (and the advantages that you have pointed out) which have evolved from working boats (fishing, cargo etc, etc) and these do have many advantages for sailing depending on a persons attitude, intent and use.

Tom Cunliffe has much to say in his very informative book 'Hand, Reef and Steer - Traditional Sailing Skills for Classic Boats' and Paul Gartside sums up the modern cost dilemma in a wonderful piece in Water Craft mag No106 Aug 2014 with "Hi-tec, hi-stress, hi-price .... and that's just the cleats".

So, yes there is a lot of wisdom to be found in some of the old ideas by ploughing a furrow in the sea on a way less traveled in these modern times - and these ways include the Junk rig which has possibly had an even longer history and evolution than other rigs.

Alastair said...


5 years or so ago you were trying to contact me about Vertue XXXV and I am afraid I did not get in touch. I have some pictures if you are interested and also an interview Kevin did after the crossing.

If you still want to get in contact my email is


Alden Smith said...

Hi Alastair - Your email to me arrived before I viewed my Blog today, so you should have my reply by now. And yes as indicated in my email I am more than interested in the photographs and the interview which with your permission I will use to Blog further on your grandfathers and Humphrey Bartons great adventure in the North Atlantic on their way to the USA in the 1950s - what a voyage!!
I was impressed by the photos - moved by the photo of the original chart of the voyage and blown away by the excellent painting of Vertue 35 in the Hurricane off Bermuda.