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English and French Rigs

sail, wind, boat, reef, mizen, dipping and lug

ENGLISH AND FRENCH RIGS The advantages of the English rig are that it is quickly got up or down, there is very little gear about it, and there is no bowsprit, the absence of which is a great advantage in coming alongside a ship, but the foresail is a large sail, and being a dipping lug requires good handling, especially in tacking. It will be observed that the French foresail and mainsail are also dipping lugs, but the tacks of them are so close to the mast in proportion to the length of the yard, that the boat is quite under command with the sails " aback " or to windward of the mast, though of course she sails better with them to leeward, still it is a great advantage, especially in making short tacks, to be able to carry them on either side ; another advan tage in the French lugs is that from having so little of the sail before the mast they are much more easily dipped than the English sail; very little of the halyards has to be lowered, and the yard is swung round with great ease ; the French sailors work them very smartly, they are generally excellent boatmen, and from being recruited from the fishing population they are accustomed to boats from their boyhood, and are much more at home in them than our own men.

The English rig will I think sail closer to the wind than the French rig, the fact of having the principal part of the canvas in one large sail, instead of dividing it into two sails of .about equal size, ensures holding a better wind ; thus cutter yachts always go to windward better than schooners, but the schooners generally have the best of it with a beam wind, or " on a reach " as it is called. In order that a dipping lug should be at its best, it ought to have nothing before it, not even a small jib, for it is an invariable rule that the draught out of one sail will always affect the sail next abaft it, no matter how clear of each other they may appear to be ; and this I look upon as one of the disadvantages of the French rig, the jib will affect the foresail, and the foresail will affect the mainsail, whereas in the English rig, the lull of the big dipping lug which is the principal sail in the boat, will cut clean into the wind, without anything to obstruct it or to cause a draught, and the mizen keeps the boat up to the wind.

The dipping lug and mizen is not an easy rig to " heave to " with, but it can be partially effected by easing off the fore sheet, keeping the mizen aft, and the helm more or less " a lee," but the boat is sure to forge ahead a little, and if the wind is light she is very liable to get into " irons." A boat or a ship is said to be " in irons " when she is not under command, through flying up in the wind and losing her weigh ; it generally occurs in very light winds ; the boat's head comes up about two points from the wind, and the wind blows along the sails without any effect, probably one of the after sheets is a little flatter than the others, and the boat having no weigh through the water, the rudder is without any effect ; and sometimes a boat will remain in this predicament for a considerable time, if proper steps are not taken to get her out of it; in a ship the head sheets should be hauled over to windward, and sometimes even the head yards have to be " boxed round," to get her off ; in a boat if their is a jib or stayforesail, the sheet should be hauled up to windward, and the main and mizen sheets let go and overhauled, and she is sure to " pay off " at once ; in a cutter with a dipping lug and mizen, the mizen sheet should be let go, and one of the men should take hold of the foresail abreast of the mast, and bear it out to windward without lowering the lug this will almost always be sufficient to get the boat out of the wind.

In order to reef a dipping lug quickly on a wind the sail should be lowered just low enough to hook on the tack and sheet to the reef cringles, then hoist the sail up, and let one or two hands tie up the reef points afterwards, they can reach them easily, but if not racing or in a hurry, it is better to take in the whole reef snugly before hoisting; but in shaking out a reef always cast off all reef points before starting tack or halyards, in this way very little time need be lost in either operation. The mizen is a more difficult sail to reef, it is outside the boat and hard to get at, so the shortest and best way generally is to lower it down altogether, reef it properly, and re-set it.