BRITANNIA is now a Brigantine, being a two masted vessel having at least one square sail on the foremast. The sail-plan is a staysail schooner, but with a taller than normal foremast to accommodate the square sail(s).
All sails are roller furled, including the square sail which rolls up inside the yard. Roller furling sails considerably reduce the workload and time in pulling them up and down, and allow for infinite reefing - including the square sail. It also removes the need for sail stowage and sail covers. The downside is that a Bermudian roller furled sail has to be cut flat, so it can roll up without bunching. This sail does not “pull” as well as one which is hanked on a stay and has bunt (curvature) built in. But like most cruising sailors, I am prepared to accept the slight loss of drive for the other advantages. This loss does not of course apply to a square sail, where the wind is blowing directly into the back of the canvas and basically pushing the boat along.
A staysail schooner rig is well known for its beam reaching power, i.e. when the wind is on the side of the boat. Also, when all sails are sheeted hard a schooner makes quite well to windward, and having both staysails on booms means the jib is the only sail to tack, all others being self tacking. Altogether it is a very workable rig for a blue water cruising boat.
No Bermudian sail works well with the wind aft because the sail is triangular and the wind is not even in the sail, it can very easily loose its wind and flop all over the place. To avoid this it usually means rigging a whisker pole, (which is actually a form of yard), to keep the sail flat. Even so constant attention to steering is needed on a run, especially in big following seas. A square sail set on the foremast has none of these problems and steering is very easy by both helmsman or autopilot - hence the age old combination of fore and aft and square sails on a Brigantine.
BRITANNIA’S head-sails are cutter rigged, i.e. jib and boomed fore staysail. The additional foremast height gives a 4’0” wide slot between the jib and staysail, allowing the jib to easily pass through the slot when tacking.
The next sail aft is the main staysail, also known as the ‘tweenmast staysail because it is between the two masts. This is set on a hefty stay which also acts as the main brace for the mainmast. Because the sail is roller furled I had the foot made 6’0” longer than its 9’0” long boom. When on a reach or broad reach the sail can be unrolled completely and sheeted further aft to become a much more powerful sail, similar to a mizzen staysail on a ketch. When on the wind the sail is partially rolled and re-attached to its boom, making it self tacking.
Aft, the mainsail rolls in and out of a slotted tube attached all the way up the back of the mainmast. There are a number of manufacturers of this method, and after a lot of consideration I choose the French Facnor system. This is extremely well engineered, reasonably priced compared to others, with good boating magazine reports and personal recommendations. The main is the largest of the four fore and aft sails, yet it is easily controlled from the cockpit and can be reefed or completely stowed in a matter of minutes.