A lugger is a class of boats, widely used as traditional fishing boats, particularly off the coasts of France, England and Scotland. It is a small sailing vessel with lugsails (see below) set on two or more masts and perhaps lug topsails.
Defining the rig 
The lugsail is an evolved version of the classical square sail. In both rigs, the upper side of the sail is attached to a spar, the yard, which is hoisted up the mast by a rope known as the halyard. The lower side of the sail is held in place by a separate set of ropes, the sheet and tack downhaul.
The main difference between the lugsail and square is the location of the yard in relation to the mast. A square sail is lifted with the halyard in the middle of the yard, lifting the sail so it lies evenly on either side of the mast. In the lugger, the halyard is attached much closer to one end or the other of the yard, and when lifted the majority of the sail will lie fore or aft of the mast. Since the luff of the sail is shorter than the leech, the after end of the yard is peaked up by the combination of the upward force of the halyard and the downward force of the tack downhaul. This allows the mast to be shorter than the sail, the peaked yard making up the difference in height.
The lugsail is somewhat similar to the gaff rig as well, which also uses a spar— the gaff— which is hung at an angle to the mast. The difference is that the gaff is mounted such that it lies entirely behind the mast, as opposed to both in front and behind as in the lugger. While the gaff rig is "cleaner" in that the mast does not interfere with the sail, it requires more complex rigging and handling than the lugger.
Types of lugsail 
There are three sorts of lugsail: the standing lug, in which the yard remains on one side of the mast and the tack is set close to the mast, the balance lug (also called balanced lug), which resembles the standing lug, but sets a boom, which continues as far forward of the mast as the leading edge of the yard. The dipping lug lacks a boom and has the top yard dipped around the mast while changing course across the wind so that the sail draws away from the mast on each tack.
The advantages of the dipping sail arise from the fact that the set of the sail is not deformed by pressing against the mast. This allows a more efficient air flow and reduces wear of the canvas.
Another source of variation is in the extent to which the yard was designed to be peaked up. That is to say, how nearly vertical the yard was intended to be.
The accompanying postcard of Fifies, a fairly late design in the evolution of the rig, shows one extreme, where the white-sailed boat appears to have a Bermudian rig (on closer examination, it is a Fifie on the opposite tack). The boat off-shore is a little more obviously a lugger and the others have not got their sails fully set.
The fore lug (main sail) on a Fifie is a dipping lugsail. The extreme size of the dipping lugsail showing in the picture was only possible with the introduction of steam powered capstans to facilitate with dipping.
This short extract explains the procedure:
|“||Imagine tacking in a fresh breeze with those tremendous forelugs flogging about. First they were lowered down to deck, then unhooked from the traveller, hooked on the burton, swung aft and then for'ard on the other side of the mast, unhooked and rehooked on the traveller, and hoisted again. During this time the mast stood foursquare on its reputation. being completely unstayed until the halyards were unhooked to the weather side and the burton set up. Smart handling was essential, and even with the fall of the haylard taken to the capstan, it was heavy work, but hoisting by hand was back-breaking, five to ten minutes' sweating to get the sail set and drawing properly for most of the old skippers were very particular about the cut and set of their sails." Page 266, Chapter 12 (Fifies and Zulus), Sailing Drifter by Edgar J. March.
March also sets out the Cornish method of tacking a lug (pp133 and 146). The Cornish did not drop the sail onto the deck but took the sail forward of the mast. The halyard was started, and as soon as the luff was slack the tack was unhooked. The yard was lowered until it stood vertical with its peak on the deck forward of the mast. The clew was unhooked from the sheet and the sail was handed around the front of the mast to be hooked into the sheet again. Meanwhile the halyard was swapped over and made ready to raise the sail. As the yard rose, the tack came back down with the yard swinging through the horizontal, until the tack could be hooked back on and the halyard set up tight.
Handling characteristics 
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-marées 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 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.
The tack tackle is critical to the performance of all lug rigs as it both brings the sail into the correct shape and, in the case of balance and standing lugs is responsible for holding the yard at the correct angle and controlling sail twist.
The name 
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 gréement 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.
Local types 
- British Isles
- Coble (not strictly a lugger as cobles have only one mast), used on the English east coast from Yorkshire to Northumberland
- Cornish lugger
- Fifie, a herring drifter of the Scottish east coast
- Hastings lugger
- Manx nickey
- Manx nobby
- Sgoth Niseach, dipping lug
- Continental Europe
- Barca-longa, of the Iberian and Mediterranean coasts
- Breton chasse-marée
- French lugger (lougre), of the coast of Normandy
See also 
Further reading 
- Shearwood, Ken (1972) Evening Star: the story of a Cornish lugger. Truro: D. Bradford Barton
|Look up lugger in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Cornish Luggers: an online guide
- Cornish Luggers: an online guide; Beer luggers (formerly in use on the south Devon and Dorset coasts)
- "Lug Rigs for Small Sailboats" by John C. Harris