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Old 01-11-2011, 16:44   #1
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Ketch or Cutter Rig

I know I am going to be told to refer to earlier threads on this topic but would like some knowledgeable input on the preferred rig for cruising in the full sense of the word. I have researched and seem to get the general feeling that a Ketch rig is preferable for short handed sailing.

I have always had sloop rig before for coastal cruising but feel smaller sails will give greater ability to balance sails as wind strengthens in an open water ocean environment, not to mention sail control. Am I on or off track?

Yacht length between 47 and 52 feet. Moderate to heavy displacement.

Thanks
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Old 01-11-2011, 16:57   #2
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

I think a cutter has the greatest advantage up to about 48 feet, which seems to be the point where the ketch rig starts making sense. I say this only because once sails grow over approximately 500 square feet they become difficult to handle for short-handed crews.
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Old 01-11-2011, 17:00   #3
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

To me, at 47+ a ketch would be the way to go. I am a small guy, my sailing skills are limited and I am not in the hurry.

Alas, as you come from a sloop, you may be happier with a cutter.

Masts may be shorter on the ketch so should any bridges ...

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Old 01-11-2011, 17:12   #4
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

If you anticipate no rush, emphasis on comfort over speed, short-handedness a way of life and a disinclination to grow bodybuilder shoulders, choose a ketch.

If you want most of that but the ability to point higher, choose a cutter. I did, but that's because there are so few appropriate ketches between 40 and 45 feet.

Running "jib and jigger" is easy, balanced and in many conditions good to 40 knots. Running exotica like a leg o' mutton sail or a mizzen staysail or spinnaker will power you in light airs faster than most racing sloops. The ketch does nothing excellently save for broad reaching at 25 knots apparent wind speed, but it does most thing pretty well indeed. Happy hunting.
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Old 01-11-2011, 17:27   #5
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

ketch is easier-- done both-- not over 47 ft, but i did both--prefer ketch. less weather helm....easier to balance. easier to sail in big weather. if ketch has a forestaysail, more the better.....ketcch took biig winds muchbetter than did the cutter i sailed--the cutter was close to knockdown in 40 kts--my ketch did great in 60+ kts without a bat of an eye nor a wink.
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Old 01-11-2011, 17:49   #6
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pirate Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

Or.... you could go the whole hog and have a cutter rigged ketch....
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Old 01-11-2011, 18:02   #7
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I have a Pearson 365 Ketch, I love the thing. Half the time I don't even bother with the main. A lot more comfy in my book.
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Old 01-11-2011, 18:22   #8
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

We sail a 58 Camper & Nicholson Center cockpit Ketch. The mast is the same height as on the 58 cutter & sloop (80 ft). Electric in-mast makes the main a cake-walk. The Mizzen (48 ft) is easy in-mast furling by hand. The fore triangle is cutter rigged. We love the mizzen staysail. The only draw-back is that there is almost no where to put solar panels or a wind generator as the mixxen boom extends past the transom.
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Old 01-11-2011, 18:37   #9
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

My previous boat was a ketch, and I loved it. Lots of versatility, good sail management, easy to balance. Jib & jigger on heavy days. Not great on a beat or run, and doesn't point high, but put wind on the beam and watch me go .

My new (old) boat is a cutter. I'm still learning the ropes (the lines ), but my experiences so far are that the benefits are similar to the ketch, just done differently. Still lots of sail-plan versatility, but balance is applied fore of the centre-of-effort. Same benefit of smaller sail areas, and the cutter has the added advantage of an inner stay making it easier to rig for heavy weather. Of course, the inner stay makes tacking more of a pain, but not a big deal. I would say our cutter is overall a better performer on the run, probably the same on a beat, but once again adores a beam wind (as most boats do).

Personally, I think either rig is great for short-handed cruisers. If I were considering a ketch or a cutter I would weigh other factors heavier than the rig. Both are great.
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Old 01-11-2011, 20:07   #10
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

Due to the fact that I own my boat out right... and she is a ketch... I have no choice but to vote for the ketch... in my unbias opinion...
I chose it for sail management and the roominess down below. Big enough to change my mind and pants without having to step outside....
But she is thirty years old and was neglected for the last ten years and that means I have some maintenance to do before going off shore.
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Old 01-11-2011, 20:53   #11
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

I am curious about ketches as I have only sailed sloops and cutters. Our last boat was a cutter-rigged Tayana 52 with slab reefing and that main I reefed myself more times than I care to remember (especially at night!). The mainsail was a heavy cruising dacron job with battens. Using a ball-bearing track system that I installed made it many times easier to get it down in a hurry - a great upgrade over the hated plastic slides. Other than that there were no issues handling sails. The foreward sails were both on Profurl manual furlers with manual winches. Come to think of it, I did develop a strong back cranking in that 110% jib over and over.
There are two things that have held me back from looking at ketches, however. First, they don't make them anymore. Sloops by far rule the market and aside from rare, custom designs, most ketches are 25 years old or more. This means resale will be more difficult. The other thing is you now have two masts with two sets of halyards, rigging, etc. to maintain.
With proper gear I wouldn't worry about shorthanded sail handling a sloop/cutter in the size of boat you are looking for. Of course, I strongly recommend a third set of reefing points installed and ready to go for offshore work.
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Old 01-11-2011, 20:59   #12
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

Some insights on ketches from John Neal (just skip down to bolded text)
John Neal on ketches
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Old 01-11-2011, 21:33   #13
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

Yes, I concur with his opinion. Ketches are like VW camper vans...a perfect choice for not enough people to continue to bother making them. That has nothing to do with their inherent qualities, but the sort of people who would really make use of a ketch are few in number, and they aren't really daysailer material and require more actual seamanship than a sloop.

If you possess or can develop that knowledge, however, they are a great option for safely going around the world at a nice steady five knots.
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Old 01-11-2011, 21:52   #14
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Re: Ketch or Cutter rig

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Or.... you could go the whole hog and have a cutter rigged ketch....
+1 .
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Old 01-11-2011, 23:11   #15
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Re: Ketch or Cutter Rig

G'day, mates. Ditto on what Dhillen outlined above. Mason 53 Cutter owner here. Our larger main is handled with ease with full battens, batt cars and lazy jacks. We like having the cutter stay removeable for day sailing around the bays and ease of tacking. All the best. Cheers.
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