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Old 15-08-2017, 14:44   #1
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Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

I have a 1980 Morgan 462 ketch. At some point a previous owner added a bigger bowsprit with the forestay moved out to the end of the sprit, and an inner forestay, with a furling staysail, was added. Someone recently commented that I should get rid of the staysail and inner forestay. It got me thinking of what are the pros and cons of having the additional sail...

Pros:
More choice in sail plan in varying wind conditions
Better balance?

Cons:
Makes it harder to tack the genoa
Additional sail, sheets, furler, etc
Need for running backstays
More maintenance

Anyone care to comment on my lists, and what their opinions are on the merits of this style of rig? Is the extra sail worth the additional equipment needs? Am I foolish for even considering changing this?

Regards,
David
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Old 15-08-2017, 17:00   #2
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

I have a 1979 Globe 38 cutter ketch. My staysail is club footed. I just find the rig very flexible. I can and have handled her by myself. Mine was built as a cutter ketch with the bow sprit. The only disadvantage is you have to pay for overall length. So my 38 becomes a 48 with the pushpit and bowsprit.

No furlers on Vigah. No running backstay.

The real con is if you are competitive. How often do you have to tack? If I run the staysail, I run a jib, not a huge genoa.
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Old 16-08-2017, 07:58   #3
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

David,
I say let's take it out for a couple sails. Maybe it will help you decide? jk but no really let's take the boat out

After looking at it, I think taking the staysail off makes sense. Simplicity. Those running back stays look annoying when flying the staysail. And, can't you always furl the genoa when time comes?
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Old 16-08-2017, 08:23   #4
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

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Originally Posted by hobopacket View Post
David,
I say let's take it out for a couple sails. Maybe it will help you decide? jk but no really let's take the boat out

After looking at it, I think taking the staysail off makes sense. Simplicity. Those running back stays look annoying when flying the staysail. And, can't you always furl the genoa when time comes?
You're on, John!

I have not noticed a significant difference, one way or the other, from using the staysail. The biggest hassle is tacking the genoa with the inner forestay in the way - no insurmountable, just annoying. Also the awkward placement of the running backstays.
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Old 16-08-2017, 09:10   #5
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

On my previous boat it was a cutter rig. I changed it to a sloop as it's easier to tack solo and it cleared up a lot of room on the foredeck. I kept the stay as a removable stay which I could then employ and raise a storm jib if I was to get into bad weather. The removeable stay was connected to the toe rail when "put away" so it was out of the way of the foredeck.
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Old 16-08-2017, 09:44   #6
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

Most boats rigged as a cutter are not true cutters. Cutters have the mast mounted further aft, in order to accommodate a actual working staysail and open slots.

Moving the headstay forward on sprit most likely was done to allow a true staysail to be fitted.

Cutters with staysail on a boom are very flexible sail configuration wise. In a thunderstorm of winds up to 35 knots, I just roll up the genny and sail with staysail and reefed main. Both are then self tacking.

A staysail and a mizzen would be a great combo, in heavy wind. The boat should balance really well.
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Old 16-08-2017, 09:55   #7
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

Some staysail are setup with a moveable stay. A highfield lever that can tension the inner stay or remove it to a fitting at the base of the mast. That setup might be the best of both worlds
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Old 16-08-2017, 10:23   #8
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

Our boat is technically a staysail-ketch. The inner forestay is parallel to the forward stay, is removable, and can be set up to be self-tacking or manual tacking. It is also outfitted with running backstays. [Architectural sketches and photos available on this page.]

Our best use of the staysail on our ketch rig is in high winds, or running a staysail version of jib n' jigger, and is necessary when heaving to. [Our S&S designed hull is well balanced in these configurations/conditions. Others may be different.]

In rough conditions, an inner forestay with runners can also provide excellent reinforcement to the main mast. [We have a future project to replace the stainless cable runners with Dynema.]

Therefore, I would never eliminate our inner forestay. However, if it was a fixed roller furler, and I needed a genoa most of the time, I might consider converting the fixed inner forestay to a removable one, and use hank-on sails as needed. [This describes our current rig. We run a 100% jib which readily tacks in most conditions when the inner forestay in place...]

Best wishes deciding what is best for you.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 16-08-2017, 10:27   #9
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

I've sailed a cutter since 2001 and am convinced, for cruising, it beats a sloop hands down. A genoa will disrupt the airflow over the staysail - a high-cut yankee is the way to go.

Any problems with hang-ups during tacking can be avoided by getting rid of the bowlines. Instead, make a spliced eye in each jib and use a soft shackle to attach them to the headsail.

Take a look at Is The Cutter Rig Sailboat the Best Choice for Offshore Cruising?
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Old 16-08-2017, 10:44   #10
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

A ketch by design gives a variety of sail options for a broad range of wind conditions. My Allied Princess II (deeper keel & Bow Sprite) is fitted with a removable 100% inner fore-stay. It has a large pelican-hook to connect under tension. This has proven to be useful in higher wind ranges. Jib and jigger in 25+ kts. with this inner fore-stay sail is comfortable and fast. No running back-stays. Other than high wind conditions the inner fore-stay is disconnected and kept on a side-stay to avoid problems tacking the Genoa which is roller furled on the Bow-Sprite fore-stay. Just an additional heavy air option enhancing the cruising capabilities of an already good cruising boat.
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Old 16-08-2017, 11:23   #11
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

Why not ask Charlie Morgan? He was helpful to me a few years ago.
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Old 16-08-2017, 11:34   #12
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

I think like all things in really depends on what you plan on doing with your boat. If you are just day sailing and hoping around the keys, get rid of the inner stay. But heading off shore... without question, leave it. Or as some have mentioned put a quick release shackle to use when heading out.

I use the staysail anytime we are close hauled to close reach. I find I can gain almost 1 knot. But any other points of sail, it stays furled unless winds increase to 30+ knots, then reefed main and staysail is set. All from the warmth and comfort of the cockpit. It looks like you have your staysail furled. The only thing that bugs me is if the windward jib/genoa sheets are fouled when we tack, it can chafe across the staysail UV cover.

I actually removed running backstays and have wire intermediates. From a famous rigger, "Do you plan on racing this heavy 24 Ton beast?" Me "No", Him: "then running backstay is pointless."
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Old 16-08-2017, 12:04   #13
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

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Originally Posted by HBWT View Post
I think like all things in really depends on what you plan on doing with your boat. If you are just day sailing and hoping around the keys, get rid of the inner stay. But heading off shore... without question, leave it. Or as some have mentioned put a quick release shackle to use when heading out.

I use the staysail anytime we are close hauled to close reach. I find I can gain almost 1 knot. But any other points of sail, it stays furled unless winds increase to 30+ knots, then reefed main and staysail is set. All from the warmth and comfort of the cockpit. It looks like you have your staysail furled. The only thing that bugs me is if the windward jib/genoa sheets are fouled when we tack, it can chafe across the staysail UV cover.

I actually removed running backstays and have wire intermediates. From a famous rigger, "Do you plan on racing this heavy 24 Ton beast?" Me "No", Him: "then running backstay is pointless."
This.

If you're not sailing in stronger weather, you don't need or want the staysail or inner forestay.

If you're going offshore, the cutter rig multiplies the sail plan options, which can be invaluable.

Add to your list of pros: Built-in always ready storm jib.

If you are a keen sailor, you will know that headsails don't work worth a dang when reefed. Having a staysail can help you avoid reefing the headsail, by allowing you to switch down to the staysail. You can also use a high cut yankee instead of a genoa, and use the staysail to pick up the air which gets under the yankee's foot. Yankees are much easier to tack across the inner forestay, too.

I get a lot of use out of my staysail. It adds a bit of power when reaching, and full main and staysail without the jib is a very good rig for stronger conditions 25 to 30 knots true.

I have two alternate sails as a principle headsail -- a blade jib and a 120% yankee. The blade gets used more; the staysail complements it extremely well, to such an extent that I don't think I've ever reefed the blade.
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Old 16-08-2017, 13:29   #14
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

My preferable configuration, at this moment, for cruising, is a forestay with a code zero, a solent stay with a "normal" genoa or jib and a removable inner stay for a storm jib. To upwinds, use the solent stay with the genoa/jib so you can tack free. The forestay, only use in light winds, long tacks, downwind passages etc..

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Old 16-08-2017, 16:01   #15
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Re: Pros and cons of cutter-rigged ketch?

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Our boat is technically a staysail-ketch. The inner forestay is parallel to the forward stay, is removable, and can be set up to be self-tacking or manual tacking. It is also outfitted with running backstays. [Architectural sketches and photos available on this page.]



Cheers! Bill
Wow she is a beauty Bill.. thanks for sharing.
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