When we received an inquiry on our website about the availability of 22’ Calcutta poles for a “Chinese Junk” boat from a guy named Geb Moran in Shelton WA our ears perked up.
Not only do we love sailing and love creative uses of our exotic Calcutta Bamboo poles, but I immediately flashed back to the descriptions of “Junk Boats” in my favorite series of books by author James Clavell. What has become known as the “Asian Saga” this series of books includes International best sellers: Shogun, Tai-Pan, Gai-Jen, King Rat, Noble House, and WhirlWind. The books explore Japan, Hong Kong, and Macau, Singapore and other Asian ports through the eyes of the British sailors and entrepreneurs that first traded with them.
Clavell paints beautiful images of Hong Kong harbor full of Junk boots hustling and bustling from the 1840’s to the 1960’s. To hear that modern sailors were recreating this iconic type of sale made me light up.
According to Wikipedia a “Junk Boat” is:”...a type of Chinese sailing ship with fully battened sails. There are two types of junk in China: Northern junk, which is developed from Chinese river boats,:20 and southern junk which is developed from Austronesian ship designs, examples of which have been trading with the Eastern Han dynasty since the 2nd century AD.”
Further talks with Mr. Moran detailed a vast network of avid sailors https://junkrigassociation.org/ who were fitting their sail boats with “Junk” type sails in an attempt to capture the nostalgia of this distant and exotic time period. The distinctive feature of the Junk sail is the “battans” that extend across the sail giving the sail its structural integrity and keeping it flatter and thus more able to capture wind in all conditions. Mr. Moran in his quest for authenticity wanted to use our 22’ calcutta bamboo poles as the battens, as opposed to more modern fiberglass poles that have become common. The winter has put a damper on Mr. Moran’s progress, but we hope to have some updated pictures as soon as he is up and sailing.
More to come!