The Mechanics of Raising a Crab Claw Sail

What follows below is a short picture sequence from the lose finger of Tayfun on the trigger of any digital camera within reach. He shot the series while “crewing” on Aluna on her way out of the Taipivai anchorage. Our sails are inspired by the shapes of ancient sails developed by the Polynesian people during the heyday of their highly elaborate navigation skills that made possible their upwind venture away from their homelands in Southeast Asia and out into the vast and island strewn Pacific, where they settled or at least visited most any speck of land courageous enough to grow up from the deep ocean floor enough to peak out of the water’s surface into the scorching sun and beating winds. There has been over the last couple decades a growing interest in the Western sailing world towards these sail that are fundamentally different from the majority of sails used there. Many different names have been suggested to allow precise communication about their construction and handling, but most commonly they are known as crab claw sails, comparing their form to the most handy extremities of our eight legged friends on their long and arduous flight away from our cooking pots. We are presently relearning the techniques necessary to put those sails of old to new use. For the sake of the general interest in this field of experimental maritime studies this series of pictures is meant to illustrate the sequence of events that need to happen to get our big mainsail up into a position to drive the boat.

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