Building Papilio Ruga
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We decided to build a junk-rigged schooner, based on the designs of Jock McLeod and Blondie Hasler. We chose this rig partially because of the extreme ease of handling, but also because it is very "low tech" - it does not rely on big and powerful winches to control the sails, nor on yards of expensive stainless-steel rigging to keep the masts up. We felt that we would be able to make almost everything ourselves, saving a lot of money, yet enjoying the benefits of easy sailing.





Sail area

35ft 2ins

10ft 6ins



700 sq ft

The only major item we bought was a bare hull, built in fibreglass by the Tyler Boat Company. The hull was set up in a shed in a small boatyard at Hesketh Bank in Lancashire.

We built or made everything else ourselves. The first things we made, even before the hull was delivered, were the masts. We bought two trees from the local forest........

...... and carried them to the garden of my long suffering parents. We removed the bark and they lay there for six months to season a little, while we went off to stay with Lana's folks in Michigan, to earn some money.

While we were both working in Michigan to raise funds, in our spare time, we made the sails, almost wearing out Lana's mother's sewing machine in the process!

The hull arrived in the Boatyard in the Spring of 1978, by which time we had already finished the sails, and the masts just needed some planing and sanding to be finished. We could start work installing the bulkheads in the hull........

....... followed by the deckbeams. The deck was heavily cambered to give us headroom below, without resorting to a coachroof. The beams were laminated from Iroko.

We devised a very strong method of joining the deck and the deckbeams to the hull. Since the masts are unstayed (that is not supported by any rigging), the deck and the joint to the hull must be able to withstand the forces generated by the mast when sailing.

The deck was bonded to the hull with layers of glass fibre on either side, and then through-bolted. The beams were glued to pairs of hanging knees which were in turn bonded to the hull.

Eventually it was time to come out of the shed, so we could step the masts. It was bad timing as it was by now the middle of the winter!
Despite the cold weather we were able to rig the sails and even managed a short trial sail in the river, before it was time to sail for warmer climes.

As soon as we got to the West Indies, the cold weather and rough seas were forgotten. We had several pleasant years living on board the boat, first in the Virgin Islands, while we were working shore, and then later in St Lucia..

Eventually, we built our first house, in Ireland, and decided to sell the boat. I wonder where she is now?

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