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Old 04-02-2012, 14:28   #1
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Ketch Sailing for Beginners

Hi,
Just learning to sail on a Colvic Watson 32 Ketch. Enjoyed the sail today but found that on a close haul with Foresail, Main and Mizzen sails maintaining a good speed, we were unable to bear off the wind and found it required full rudder to just keep the bow from hunting into the wind. Can someone explain how to adjust the sails so that we could easily bear off to a beam reach and reduce the rudder angle? Would the mizzen be acting against the balance and be pushing the stern down wind and hence the bow to windward?
Thanks
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Old 04-02-2012, 14:37   #2
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Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

As you suggest, the mizzen tends to push the stern downwind, with the result that the bow is pushed up into the wind. Try easing the mizzen. The "balance" you are looking for is to balance the tendency of the jib/genoa to push the bow off the wind, with the mizzen pushing the bow up into the wind. The more of this balance you achieve, the less pressure you'll find on the rudder.
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Old 04-02-2012, 15:01   #3
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Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

Was the staysail up?

Try foresail and mizzen only and experiment. You will develop a sense of what to hoist when by trying different sail combos on the same course and conditions...a mile between buoys with a beam wind is a good start.

Ketches are great but they require a bit more thinking to get the most of them. Your boat is pretty heavy and probably a challenge in light air, but in heavy air you will see that the ketch can reduce sail and "keep on keeping on" in fine fashion while sloops are reefing down or heading for the moorings.

Good luck. I'm sure we'd love some "action" photos.
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Old 04-02-2012, 18:24   #4
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Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

Many ketches were designed when the racing rule made it advantageous to have a mizzen because it added sail area without affecting the rating. Downwind, the mizzen and mizzen staysail (some boats even have a mizzen spinnaker) can add speed, but upwind, many owners don't even bother to hoist their mizzens. As you have found, it can upset the balance of the boat and keep you from heading off. Operating in the backwind of the mainsail, it usualy has to be trimmed so flat to keep it from luffing that it doesn't help push the boat forward much, but creates dragfrom luffing, no matter how tight you strap it. We sailed an H-28 ketch for about ten years, cruising and racing. It even had a "mule" sail that was rigged between the top of the mizzen mast and the top of the main. Didn't set that very often! At anchor, though, having the mizzen point us definitely into the wind kept yawing to a minimum and made sleeping much more comfortable.
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Old 04-02-2012, 18:49   #5
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Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

Interesting, mine has a mule sail as well. I tend not to set the mizzen upwind, but down wind it and the mule can help make the most out of light airs.
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Old 04-02-2012, 20:42   #6
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Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

I have never heard the term "mule sail". I thought at first from the description I recognized it as a "fisherman's" or a "leg of mutton" sail. But I see it's more like an upside down "banana".

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Old 04-02-2012, 21:04   #7
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Talking Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

We have a Seven Seas 37 Ketch, Charon, with hydraulic steering and love our mizzen. Practical, aesthetic and aerodynamic.

We also experience some weather helm (heading up, coupled with ten degrees or more of helm) and balance this by easing the mizzen, and the main, but in many cases, we motor sail with headsail and mizzen. No main. That way the mizzen is more effective, acts as a steadying sail and we can balance the boat with furling or unfurling the headsail. We can raise and lower the mizzen safely from the cockpit (as we can also control the headsail) allowing us sufficient sail in rolly conditions of sea and swell.

To set the main, as with reefing, we need a crew member on the cabin top at the base of the main mast and this is a very unstable position. However on good days - all sail is up and she reaches and runs on the quarter like a dream. Our fastest sail ever however was in the D'Entreacasteau channel (Tasmania) in 25 knots of wind with half a headsail and full mizzen - doing 8.5 knots!

The mizzen is also a place for our wind instruments, second VHF aerial, radome, TV antenna, aft deck and boarding and BBQ floodlight, and soon a pair of large ships hooters under the mizzen bracket.

And aesthetically, two masts look great!

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Old 05-02-2012, 08:31   #8
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Re: Ketch sailing for beginners

why would you put wind instruments on the mizzen? Seems like they would get a **LOT** of interference from the main??
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Old 09-02-2012, 14:02   #9
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

Thanks everyone for your input. My apologies for not replying sooner but am ashore now with great memories and a desire to get back afloat to try out all your suggestions. I believe easing of the mizzen will be the answer, just need to get out there to try it!
Thanks again.
Hope to take the newly aquired boat from the Solent to West of Scotland with the first suitable weather window. That should give us some practical experience. However, it may be a few months before we get the weather. Will keep reading about sailing in the mean time! Cheers.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:36   #10
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

You may wish to consider reading "Seamanship, A Voyage Along the Wild Coasts of the British Isles", by Adam Nicolson. He takes his 42' wooden ketch on trips from the South of England up as far as the Faroes. The book starts without him knowing how to sail.
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Old 20-08-2013, 10:39   #11
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

Anyone have experience sailing a ketch with a wind vane autopilot???
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Old 20-08-2013, 11:34   #12
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

"Anyone have experience sailing a ketch with a wind vane autopilot??? "
I have a Monitor windvane on my Pearson 424 Ketch and have made two crossings of the Atlantic primarily steered by the Monitor.

I encountered two significant, but manageable issues with this configuration.
  1. The larger vane supplied with the monitor will not fit under my mizzen boom, which extends about 2' over the stern. This means when tacking the boom will smack the vane unless it is removed first. So the normal tacking maneuver involved disengaging the Monitor and engaging the autopilot. Remove the vane. Tack the boat onto the new course and trim the sails. Re-install the vane. Disengage the autopilot and re-engage the Monitor. This is a cumbersome procedure, but a minor inconvenience on an off-shore passage where tacks are not the norm.
  2. The mizzen boom must be kept to leeward of the wind vane when on a beam or close reach, when the mizzen is furled. With the furled mizzen to windward the air flow to the vane can be disturbed enough to prevent the windvane from steering the boat effectively. This happened to me one night after we tacked with the mizzen furled. In the dark I just forgot about the furled mizzen, and the Monitor kept letting the boat go off-course. I engaged the autopilot and started investigating the problem and eventually noticed the mizzen boom to windward of the Monitor. I tacked the furled mizzen over the Monitor vane using the topping lift. When I re-engaged the Monitor all was back to normal.
So there can be issues with a windvane and a ketch rig, but for most off-shore sailing they are not major issues. When sailing in shore or when having to tack often I either furl the mizzen or steer by autopilot.


John
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Old 20-08-2013, 11:49   #13
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailordiver View Post
Anyone have experience sailing a ketch with a wind vane autopilot???
My wife and I sailed a Westsail ketch around the world with a Flemming windvane.

Never used the mizzen...the boom supported a sunshade!

Very rarely had balance problems using just main & jib...the Flemming did all the steering without issues.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:41   #14
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

There can be no doubt that far suppierior ketch rig is the finest and most versatile of all rigs except the schooner rig.
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Old 23-02-2015, 10:31   #15
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Re: Ketch Sailing for Beginners

Hi all you Ketch-ers!

I finally successfully got my ketch to tack. New to sailing, I have driven her out and then floundered around in the wind for a little bit then drove bank in dejected.

Not yesterday. Coincidentally, I put up the mizzen first!. What a difference. It was explained to me mizzen is rudder, main is stabilizer, jib is power. So that is what I tried. I chose to douse the jib almost as soon as I deployed it. Just overwhelmed. So much going on.

Still with just the main and mizzen, the boat was balanced and easy sailing. I tacked a couple times, playing with the sheets, staying on a close reach. The conversation went a little like this...What happens when I do this? I'm. What happens when I do that? I'm, OOH NO! Ok, that's better, OH NO, again.

About an hour later, I was suddenly unable to tack. It would cross to irons and then untack. I tried a couple times and then decided if was enough. I am pretty sure it was the mizzen trim. I will try again Thursday.

Can any of you describe sail trim for a ketch and how to use the mizzen to my advantage? I still need to use the tiller to tack, yes? Where is my mizzen trim on a close reach when I begin my tack? In tight, or spilling air?

Come on you Old Salts! Bring it!

Bobby
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Tacoma, WA


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