A lugger is a class of boat, that was widely used as a traditional fishing boat or other working craft, particularly off the coasts of France, England, Ireland and Scotland. It is a sailing vessel defined by its rig, using the lug sail on all of its one or several masts. Luggers varied extensively in size and design. Many were undecked, open boats, of a range of sizes, some of which operated from beach landings (such as Hastings). Others were fully decked craft (typified by the Zulu and many other sailing drifters). Some larger examples might carry lug topsails.[1]

Luggers were used extensively for smuggling from the middle of the 18th century onwards; their fast hulls and powerful rigs regularly allowed them to outpace any Revenue vessel in service. The French three-masted luggers also served as privateers and in general trade. As smuggling declined about 1840, the mainmast of 3 masted luggers tended to be discarded, with larger sails being set on the fore and mizzen. This gave more clear space in which to work fishing nets.[2](pp15-19)

The name

According to Skeat, the term "lugger" may come from Dutch, logger meaning "slow ship", and East Friesian, log meaning "slow"; or it may come from the type of sail used (lug), which may derive from the ease with which it may be raised or "lugged".[3]

Local types

British Isles
Continental Europe


  1. Greenhill, Basil; Mannering, Julian, eds. (1997). The Chatham Directory of Inshore Craft: Traditional Working Vessels of the British Isles. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1 86176 029 9.
  2. March, Edgar J. (1952). Sailing Drifters: The story of the herring lugger of England, Scotland and the Isle of Man (1969 reprint ed.). Newton Abbott: David and Charles (Publishers) Limited. ISBN 0 7153 4679 2.
  3. Skeat, Walter W. (2013). An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Dover language guides (Reprint ed.). Courier Corporation. p. 832. ISBN 9780486317656.

See also

Further reading

  • Shearwood, Ken (1972) Evening Star: the story of a Cornish lugger. Truro: D. Bradford Barton
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