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by Paul Austin - Dallas, Texas - USA

Weird Boats

Some people say I was born to write this story. I deny all alleged wrongdoing, I am not a criminal, but here goes.

I've always loved pop songs with weird lyrics, so naturally I have a collection of boat drawings with strange rigs.


The first wierd look I ever saw is the square sail off to the side of the mast. If you're going to put up a square sail, why is it to the side of the mast? Well, it has a sprit from the mast to the corner, it's loose footed, like this Hoggie. This is not a sandwich, it's a fat, flat rounded stern boat from the channel port of Brighton. It's a fishing boat.

I suppose the square sprit sails are for sailing across the wind in a steady pace. Sprit rigs are known to be safe, as they dump gusts of wind. It's like sailing short for a moment, then full sailed again.

But now that square sail. Having it horizontal across the top to the sprit really takes any cool nautical look out of it. You can't get girls with a sail like this. They need something more jaunty and risky than this. Maybe your mother's best friend will like it.

Kurran Kahn

This strange one was not named after Persian pastry. It's from Lithuania, where old guys play Chess all day long so that no one has to lose and explain to the wife. Here the little jib looks like maybe you're supposed to blow your nose into it to make the boat go to windward. I'm not too sure about blowing my nose to windward, I live in Texas. If you blow your nose in the Panhandle, they'll hear you in Brownsville.

The Kurran Kahn was supposed to be a trawling fishing boat, so maybe the sprit sails did their job, dragging the net home.


The Moletta was also a fishing boat from Portugal, where their inspiration for sail shape seems to have been diapers. There's actually only one mast here, but plenty of leaning on it. If there's an advantage to all these triangular sails it's that you could sail in the opposite direction without turning the boat around. Does the crew know which way they're going? I can't tell, but it looks like plowing downwind on a Moletta would be a hair- raising experience. Maybe the crew does the screaming, instead of the wind. If I were a fish, I'd be insulted to be caught by this boat.


The Muletta is a development on the Moletta. I won't say an improvement, the lines arrangement would be too much for McGyver to figure out. In dead air, all these leaning sails and masts must look stupid. If I slept on the deck and woke up in the middle of the night, seeing these leaning masts would make me think I was in some sort of alternative universe that runs on rum.

Why do people do this? The boat surveyor is just gonna say, 'Is that the mast, or is it the stairway up? Which way is up, I'm feeling dizzy?'


Now this is a boat with intrigue. The saique mizzen is long, leaning lateen, the main mast hold tall square sails, and the bowsprit has this low puffer. Does this mean the men who handled the lateen can't stand the men who handle the square sails and the men who handle the bowsprit sail don't like either of them? Why are they so far apart?

This was a trading vessel of the 19th century. Maybe they should trade this rig in.

Naples Trawler

I don't understand this. Did some huge sail get torn up in a blow? Or maybe the boat owner was trying to get some shade for his lady? And then there is that foremast, leaning at a 45 degree angle. And the mizzen mast, also at a 45 degree angle; maybe these aren't sails at all but somebody's laundry drying - that must be it.

Well, that's six of the goofiest sail rigs I've come across. If you've seen a rig stranger than these, send it to Chuck. In the meantime I'll stick with the lowly flat-bottomed rowboat.

Paul is also publishing his books onĀ Amazon.


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