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Home » Hong Kong Junk Boats

Product description:

A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel/ship design still in use today. Junks may have developed from very early bamboo rafts which had a high stern. Cromagnon cave paintings on the Indo China coast show junk shaped doublehull vessels. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages. They were found, and in lesser numbers are still found, throughout South-East Asia and India, but primarily in China, perhaps most famously in Hong Kong. Found more broadly today is a growing number of modern recreational junk-rigged sailboats.


When recorded in 1924 Chinese junk “da tuo” (“Big Pull”) “Hong Kong Trawler” was the generic name given to large local fishing sailing junks in the waters around Hong Kong, Macau and Southern China with LOA (length overall) 72 – 86 feet (22 – 26.3 m) and beam upto 20 feet (6.4 m). This class includes junks ”xia jiu tuo” (in Cantonese “ha kau tuo”), ”qi bang tuo” (in Cantonese “chat pong tuo”), “zan zeng” or “heng zeng” (in Cantonese “cham chang” or “vang chang”).

Da Tuo is normally a gill-net trawler working fishing grounds where the seabed is smooth, flat sandy and rock free.

Traditionally fishermen are “tan ka” who lived onboard with their families. From October through May, the typhoon off-season, the larger junks would spend 7-10 days at sea at upto 100 nautical miles offshore working in pairs trawling a 250 foot (76 m) net.

We have choosen to represent the Da Tuo class of Chinese sailing junk
“ zan zeng” or “heng zeng” (in Cantonese “cham chang” or “vang chang”) which has the classic and unique profile of low prow and high stern. Date of origin unknown these lines have long since disappeared. This design has a fine bow with a T-cross beam - even older craft may have had the classic junk scrow bow or “niu tou chuan” (“bulls-head”). Tara model has L.O.A. (length overall) 72 feet (22 m).

During the 1950’s in Hong Kong marinized diesel engines from London buses obsoleted sails - along with the Da Tuo other sailing fishing junks which disappeared from Hong Kong waters include:
“tan jiao ting” (in Cantonese “tam kok teng”) a junk from Macau and nearby Tan Jiang river which trawled gill nets
“gu peng ting” (in Cantonese “ku peng teng”) a single sail junk from Yangjiang. In fleets of up to 30 they trawled purse-seine and drag-seine nets
“da gu peng ting” (in Cantonese “tai ku peng teng”), rigged with three sails and due to it’s large size could trawl 4 - 10 nets
“ xian ting xing xia tuo” (in Cantonese “sing teng”) was originally built as a fast sailing junk to deliver fresh fish to the Hong Kong market, and after being soundly beaten by much faster motorized junks was adapted as a beam trawler for shrimps

In 1950’s and 1960’s many sailing junks converted to diesel engines. Since the early 1970’s a new sleek, green coloured, wooden stern diesel powered trawler has been built in Hong Kong based on a Northsea design – these highly efficient fishing boats killed off the junk as a trawler, and have since probably killed the local fishing industry.

Since about 1900 Hong Kong fishing junks used stayed masts - copied from the Europeans - at Tara we are use unstayed masts which had numerous advantages. Uniquely the rudder and forefoot of Hong Kong junks have a number of diamond shaped holes cut – reason given is to balance the flow of water in light conditions.

Normally rigged with two masts many of the larger junks also had a third or mizzen mast stepped to the starboard quarter – the mizzen being set only when the mainsail was lowered, light winds or when trawling. The foremast was raked forwards to ensure the foresail did not accidentally gybe in light winds and swells – mainmast and mizzen normally being stepped vertically.

The lugsails of the Hong Kong junks are unique in their shape – the luff is much further forward than on any other Chinese junk and there are considerably fewer battens. The first Chinese junks used bamboo matting as sailcloth - this was eventually replaced with cotton canvas which rotted if stored wet. The roots of plants were used to dye the canvas and prevent rotting – giving the sails their reddish-brown colour.

Most Hong Kong Trawlers were varnished with minimal colour or decoration.

We have researched the works of G.R.G. Worcester, Ivon A. Donnelly, Derek E. Maitland, Louis Audemard, Contra-Admirante Artur Leonel Barbosa Carmona, the Hong Kong History Museum and the Macau Maritime Museum. Even today most Chinese shipwrights build junks based on experience using their “eye” – ships plans as used in the West are not used and with the death of these junks and their craftsmen we have lost generations of knowledge.

We dedicate our junk models to the generations of junk people of China and of this part of Asia. May this model bring all who rest their eyes or hands on her as much pleasure and happiness as we had in her research, design and building.



Customer benefits:

We do not mass produce models - they are made by mastercrafts people from scratch. We build wooden model replica boats and ships to "almost museum quality at a fraction of museum prices". Each model is very well researched before being built. If you love your boat, or have a dream boat, there is now no need to be separated from her - take her to the office or home as a model!


Customization available:

Each model is free standing on a wooden cradle with brass plate, with optional viewing case (glass can not be shipped and must be purchased locally), and optional table. We build any size of model; ideal model size is normally 20 - 30 inches (510-750 mm). We can even give you below deck and cabin details. We can do models for design, tank testing and other specialized purposes.


Personalization available:

Normally our sail material is red or dark brown colour. We can personalize the brass plate with names, awards, etc.


Custom build process: 

Please email to sales@ your details. Within 5 working days we will email to you our quote of schedule to make and our price. If you agree to our quotation we will then request a deposit of 50% to begin work. We request final payment of 50% to be made prior to shipment.


Estimate of schedule:

Quotation scheduled for 2 working days. For an original wooden model sailing vessel of 20 inches (510 mm) length it takes approximately 8 weeks for delivery - provided we do not have a long backlog of orders.