Chinese "Junk"=Good Sailboat?

Years ago I met a man who had a yacht custom made in Hong Kong: it was a classic chinese “junk” rig, and he claimed that it was the easiest bost in the world to sail. I haven’t seen one in years…has anybody had personal expereince with one?
To a western d sailor, the junk rig is pretty strange-usually two-masted, with battened square sails (no jibs). Given how simp[le this rig is, are there any big disadvantages to it? Can they handle high winds?
I’m told the junk hull design is pretty good…anyway, I like the way they look! :cool:

This article seems to confirm my guess that the junk rig isn’t at its best when sailing upwind. Aside from that, it seems to have a number of outstanding virtues, in particular being easy to handle and reef. Apparently the sails are also relatively easy to sew because the sail geometry is flat, although I imagine that all the batten pockets would add to the cost and complexity.

As for the hulls, apparently the junk’s hull design was years ahead of European designs in terms of water tight compartments. Based on (unattributed) reading, this was probably due to necessity – the seas in which the junk is native tend to be shallow and laden with coral reefs. The junk rig has a low center of effect, so you don’t need a deep hull and keel. I don’t know how the lack of a heavy keep would affect their stability in big storms or heavy winds.

Ralph, speaking as a ‘son of a son of a sailor’, with twenty five years on the Hudson River, I can tell you that your friend is almost right.

No, seriously, a chinese junk is a pretty darn simple boat to sail… but there’s a western equivalent that’s even easier, and a lot easier to find. Called a Cat Ketch. My folks happened to have a Freedom 33, and I could singlehand it at fifteen.

These people have some good words on the design. No more ‘prepare to come about!’ Darn near jibes itself. It’s also better into the wind than a junk. Furthermore, it can be rigged to carry a staysail. Ours had the added advantage of wishbone booms… booms that look like a windsurfer… which increased the functional leverage on the sail, reduced the chance of impact with people, and allowed for a taller sail, because it became, instead of a right triange, an obtuse one.

With the staysail up, despite being full keeled, at nearly fourteen tons, it was also one of the fastest racing boats on the river, thanks to the PFERF rating, as the jibless design gave it an advantage. (Think horse handicapping) It’s a bit unique… but it’s certainly a lot cheaper than a junk.

Back in mid-60s I remember a yacht/junk that tied up in the Fort Myers, Florida city marina. It made quite a stir and the owner was interviewed in the paper and on TV—Fort Myers didn’t have a lot going on back then. I dimly recall the guy raving about the ease with which it sailed. It was a very interesting looking thing.