Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

I want to build a Skerry as a first boat, and am wondering which rig to buy with it--deciding between the sprit and balanced lug rigs. From poking around on the forum, here's what I've got as the pros of each:

sprit rig: It fits stows in the hull, and has a high enough boom to row while the sail is up and gives more headspace to the crew.

balanced lug: Easier to rig while in the water, and can reef. Looks a good bit better.

A couple quesions:

I'm wondering if it's hard to row the lug while the sail is up, for those who have it. Is there less space because of the lower sail when there are two people on board?

Is it possible to scandalize or brail the sprit rig, as an alternative to reefing--terms I learned today from reading a bit about sprit rigs in general?

Anyone switch from a sprit rig to a lug and can compare more generally from their experience?

Does the lug rig not fit in the hull when stowed?

Thanks in advance, excited to get started on boat building!

14 replies:

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RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   I think both will have some impact on rowing when dropped. I know the lug does. Just bundle it as far over to the side as possible and work around it with that oar handle. Both rigs will fit in the boat. If not much wind I have braised the lug rig up against the mast with success but it presents some extra drag so a breeze can affect your rowing.  The lug is slightly larger so needs the reef more in breeze. 

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   Gah I hate auto type. "Brailed " not braised. A well stewed boat is a bad thing. 😀

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   Gah I hate auto type. "Brailed " not braised. A well stewed boat is a bad thing. 😀

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

I have both types of rigs on 2 different boats. The balanced lug is on a Faering Cruiser and the sprit on my Brand-X dinghy. The dinghy is 12 feet long, half the length of the Cruiser, so that affects the comparison. The sprit rig is also boomless, which doesn't work on the Skerry because of the required sheeting angles, so it's not going to be an exactly comparable discussion. That said:

For rowing the yard is dropped, the sail furled and the whole thing is secured to the boom with sail ties. Then, by moving the main sheet attachment point to the mast and adjusting the downhaul, sheet and halyard tensions, it's possible to fix the yard/sail/boom in place with the end angle high enough to row the boat without getting my head banged. Not sure how well this would work on the shorter Skerry and if the rower has a longer torso than I.

With no wind there's no real difference in rowing effort. As the wind comes up it gets worse. In the picture I was rowing directly into the wind racing an incoming line of thunderstorms to the ramp so it felt really really slow, but in fact I was able to keep up between 2 and 3 mph with nearly 600 lbs of boat and passenger. So if you can manage this sort of configuration on the Skerry, the effect on rowing should minimal.

The boomless sprit can be brailed by releasing the snotter and sheet tension, tightening the brailing line (not visible) and then re-adjusting the snotter tension to keep the whole mess up the mast. And it is a mess compared to the nice bundle of the furled balanced lugsail. All that tophamper catches the wind and  slows you down, makes noise as it flaps and can also make the boat roll depending on the wind direction. With a boom the procedur should be about the same, but the tophamper will be heavier which could affect stability.

Personally, I prefer to use brailing to reduce sail area and keep sailing. For rowing I prefer to completely unstep the mast into the boat and row around it. I've even done this with a passenger aboard.

In general, I like the sprit because it has less weight aloft than a balanced lug and I like the balanced lug because it's easier to reduce sail with. They're both good simple rigs.



RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   So I recently completed the Skerry with the sprit rig and while you can row with it it's not terribly fun.  Trying to row with the sail and control the rudder is madness and even if you kick up the rudder part of the box still sits in the water so you need something to control the tiller which I have not decided on yet.  Much like lazlo said I plan to add ways to reduce the sail area in heavy wind.  Taking the mast down under way is a precarious venture and scandalizing isn't terribly fun with the sprit slapping everywhere on the bow.

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   I will say I heavily considered trying to get the lug to try out just because you can reef.

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   One other point, the sprit seems to make one tack a bit worse performing than the other. I think it disrupts wind.  I'm still trying to learn if I can tune out of it or not.

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

Thanks so much for your responses, I found that super helpful. And Laszlo thanks for the pictures and thorough response. I'm going for the lug--I think it might be more fun to be able to reef and drop sail more easily under way.

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

 I'm late to this discussion, but I think you're making the right choice going with the lug.  I have a Skerry that I made before the lug was available, so sent with the sprit.  I like to island hop and really didn't like not being able to drop sail.  Also didn't like the weight aloft when the sprit was tied to the mast - it makes the boat feel unstable especially in a chop.

I also didn't like setting the sprit pole in anything but calm conditions and that's not when I like to sail.

So I had a lug made for me (again, this was before CLC sold a lug for the Skerry).  If you have a keen eye you can see I added a bit of rake to the mast (3 degrees aft) to balance the lug a bit better.  I don't think that would be necessary with the CLC rig.

Here's the two rigs side by side

The preview is telling me that isn't working, so try this link if it doesn't show.

I love the look of the lug and love that I can drop sail and row to shore - especially with the rocky islands I tend to be around.  Also love that it can be reefed when needed.  It just feels so much better with the lug.

I want to dispel any myth about the performance of the sprit though - it's a fine sail and works well on both tacks, just not the best fit for me.  But I think you'll be happy with the lug.

Good luck with your Skerry!

- Bob

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

Bob's Skerry rigs (click to enlarge):

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

Since I'm a bit of a petrol head I always talk of "matching the engine to the chassis" when considering sailing rigs. The original sprit rig always felt to me like the perfect size and geometry for the Skerry, whatever the conditions.

The advantages of the sprit rig are the simplicity of the spars (three untapered sticks) and the speed and ease of getting it set up properly. If you're new to sailing, the sprit rig is more forgiving of rig-tuning errors.

The disadvantages, all observed correctly above, include the difficulty of setting up on the water. You really need to be sailing off a beach with that rig. Even if fitted with reefing gear, you'd have to "take in" the reef on the beach. The Skerry's too small and light for the old "scandalizing" trick to work.

The balanced lug corrects all of those limitations. Being a bit larger and more efficient as an airfoil, lug-rigged Skerries are faster, though only if the lug sail has been rigged and tuned properly. To help limit the weight aloft, the Skerry lug's boom and yard are tapered, if recollection serves, so there's a bit more carpentry.

The last time I made a study of it, about five years ago, 64% of Skerry kits shipped with lug rigs, 26% with sprits, and 10% with the gunter-sloop rig.

CLC Skerry Sailboat

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

Great photo there, John!  Whew!  Makes my tiller fingers twitchy....


RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   My Skerry originally had the sprits'l, which I found to perform better than one might expect from appearances.  However, the large amount of top hamper when the rig is brailed makes for a very unstable boat (swamped twice).  I bit the bullet and ordered a lug sail from CLC.  I use the sprits'l rig mast and made the boom and yard from a lumber yard 2x4 which actually turned out nicely.  Very glad to have made the change.    Now I can row out if calm conditions, the mast up and the sail stowed and easily set if a breaze comes up.  Note that coming alongside a dock with the sprits'l is far trickier than with the lug as it is not easily and effectively struck.  The lug just comes down into the boat with one hand on the halyard and the other grasping the leach.  If you want to buy a good condition sprits'l I happen to know where one is available. ;)

RE: Skerry Rig advice, Lug vs sprit

   Thanks John, I can definitely envision times when I'd want to row though a narrow and shallow channel, and then raise sail, so the lug seems like the right choice for me.

And thanks Bob and Jim for the confirmation on my choice.

I've started construction, and something boat-shaped is appearing in my garage--very exciting!

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