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Chinese Rigs Boats and Sailing

rudder, sail, boat and stern

CHINESE RIGS BOATS AND SAILING There is a great variety of boats in different parts of China, and northern and southern boats differ considerably from one another, but the same leading features are common to all, but as the southern are the best boats, and the most typical, I will give a sketch of one about 50 tons, though they vary greatly in size without varying much in rig.

It is impossible in a small sketch of this size to show the peculiar arrangement of cords which serve the purpose of a sheet, and which pull equally upon all parts of the leech of the sail, and keep the whole sail at the same angle with the keel. The sail is made usually of a very coarse sort of grass matting, and the battens which run along it at intervals, are generally made of bamboo, and are thus light and strong, they keep the sail perfectly flat upon all points of sailing ; so that it would appear that the Chinese have known for many centuries the secret which our yachtsmen only found out a few years ago.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable features in these boats is the enormous rudder with gratings in it, this rudder acts as a lee board as well as a rudder, and in sailing " on a wind " it prevents the boat from making so much lee way as she otherwise would do, it also enables her to turn with wonderful quickness, and the total absence of deadwood, and sternpost, also assists in this turning power, as it allows the stern of the boat to fly round in whichever direction the rudder is pointed. The rudder projects con

siderably below the bottom of the boat, and is fitted to trice up into a slot or rudder-well in the stern, so that it shall not bear the weight of the vessel when she takes the ground ; this increased depth of the rudder gives of course increased turning powers, but it is a plan which is not entirely peculiar to the Chinese, for the Venetian fishing boats, and one or two other classes of vessels in the Mediterranean are fitted with rudders which project below the boat, and can be triced up at will : it gives great handiness, and increased weatherly qualities, upon a very light draught of water.

The Chinese boats have great beam, and great height out of the water at the stern, but they are low and rather narrow at the bows, these are the leading characteristics of all their boats, coupled with a high and overhanging poop for the accommodation of the whole family, who all live on board, men women and children, sometimes three or four generations of them ; for there is an enormous floating population in China, who never go on shore, but live entirely in boats, of all sizes, down to diminutive little punts, not so large as a ship's dingy, in which may be seen a family of seven or eight people of all ages ; in this way they evade the house tax, and act as scavengers to the harbours, picking up every bit of offal and refuse that is thrown overboard from the ships.