Lugger

Lugger Fishing boat

A lugger is a type of small sailing vessel setting lugsails on two or more masts and perhaps lug topsails. While this article is written in the present tense, in European waters at least, except as museum pieces, luggers are things of the past.

Lugger Fishing boat

The lugsail was the earliest of the fore and aft rigs. The origin of its name is not wholly clear. The name 'lugger' may derive from the Middle Dutch for 'to trawl' or it may take its name from the lugsail. That in turn, may have its origin in the similarity of the appearance of a human ear to a fore and aft sail. The French for a fore and aft rig is un greement aurique or for the sail, it is une voile aurique - an ear type sail. Since 'lug' is an English word for ear, this origin is a possibility.

The rig combines the handiness of a fore and aft rig with much of the efficiency when running, of a square rig. A bigger lugger might set lug topsails which are very much like the lower sails but less deep. Some of the Breton chasse-marees carried topgallants. The standing sail is usually set to the starboard side of the mast. It is said that the comparative disadvantage of having the sail deformed on the starboard tack was why the rule of the road gave the right of way to a sailing vessel in that condition.

Once hoisted, the set of the sail is controlled by adjustment of the tack tackle (pronounced tak taykl) and the sheet. It is therefore much simpler to use than a square sail so that the crew can be smaller or doing work other than that of sailing the vessel, such as that to do with fishing.

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