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Old 03-12-2015, 12:16   #1
TCL
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Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Hi, I've been reading and monitoring these forums a while now, but this is my first substantive post. I am going to try to avoid the typical "hey, I want to live aboard, what should I do" post. I'd like to get opinions (I know that there will be many, and varied) on specific attributes of a boat, or style of boat, that I'm considering.

My questions mainly arise from the fact that I've not sailed, and previously wasn't looking for, either a ketch rig or a center cockpit, and this boat that I saw last week is both.

By way of background, I'm looking for a boat to live aboard and single-hand sail. My parents live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I once lived in New Orleans, and I've spent time in and love Key West, so I could conceivably be on Lake Pontchartrain, in Pass Christian, MS, or in the Keys at any particular point in time. I plan to cross the Gulf to the Caribbean and back (hopefully somewhat regularly), as well. So whether I ever got to the point of doing a transatlantic crossing or other water sailing">blue water sailing, I'd like to have something offshore or at least "grey water" capable.

I sailed a small boat when younger and have taken several ASA courses, primarily on a Catalina 400. I like the Catalina 400 quite a bit, but the prevailing opinion is that boat is not suited for offshore crossings -- primarily because of the wing keel, spade rudder, and lack of a big toerail. I'm interested in something on the line between bluewater cruiser and "performance" cruiser.

I generally was looking for an aft-cockpit, cutter- or sloop-rigged (whether true cutter or sloop with a removable inner forestay), set up for single-handed (roller furling genoa a must, furling main would be nice but if not at least halyard led to the cockpit, self-tailing winches ideally). Don't believe I need/want a full keel, but a fin keel that tracks well, and a skeg-hung rudder.

All that said, this boat is a 1979 Morgan 462 ketch, center cockpit. I'm no surveyor, but based on my walk-around, it appears to have been very well maintained. It has all of the equipment one would need for cruising, and it all seems to be in good condition.

I've done some research on Morgans since seeing the ad and seen both good and bad reviews/comments in forums. The negatives focus on blistering problems that some Morgans had, apparently similar to several Valiants of the same era, and on some deck-hull joint leakage problems. But the takeaway seems to have been that it was a certain run of hull numbers and the problem was corrected. This owner says that there have never been any of those problems. I didn't see any gelcoat issues on the deck or topsides and didn't feel any softness in the deck.

Here are my thoughts, and I'd welcome any specific reactions.

-- As noted above, I previously was looking at sloop or cutter rigs, not ketch rigs. In addition to the advantages of a sloop in lighter air, I also thought that a ketch rig might just be too much complication for single-handing. Since seeing this boat, I've done a bunch of research on ketch rigs and found that they have their proponents and detractors/pros and cons. The biggest pros seem to be that by dividing up the sail plan you have more flexibility / more options, that the mizzen will provide some power off the wind, that the mizzen can act as a steadying sail at anchor or on a mooring, etc. The cons seem to be that the mizzen doesn't do too much when sailing on the wind, instead may add drag; that the shorter / smaller main probably means worse performance in light winds; that the extra spars and rigging may not be worth it considering the frequency with which the mizzen is used; etc. All in all, the ketch rig is not a selling point for me, and is probably slightly negative, but at this point perhaps isn't a deal-breaker. Thoughts?

-- I was looking for an aft cockpit, not a center cockpit. I've read some opinions that center cockpit might be preferable for offshore sailing to reduce the risk of being filled by following breaking seas; but I've also read that a center cockpit might be worse danger from being filled by breaking seas (big bathtub) unless it drains really well. I've also read that the danger of breaking seas is overstated. There are opinions all over the place. I didn't get to check and see how well this cockpit drains. From an aesthetics standpoint, I just like the aft cockpit better. The other positive to a center cockpit, of course, is that usually it provides for a larger aft "master" cabin, which this boat has. Bottom line, the center cockpit is not a selling point for me, but perhaps not a deal-breaker. An additional point is that I'm not sure that the halyard is led back to the cockpit here. Thoughts?

-- I've not sailed a boat with a hard dodger/cockpit cover, which this boat has. As advantageous/necessary as that might be offshore, I don't like the idea of not being able to see the mainsail or the main mast from the helm, which is the case here. That's somewhat of a negative. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on this visibility issue if your boat has a hard dodger/cockpit cover or you have experience sailing with one.

-- I think this boat is probably under-powered (from a sail perspective, not an auxiliary engine perspective). Total sail area is 876 sf, LWL is 39.5 ft., displacement 30K lbs, ballast 8K lbs. If I've done my math right, it has a SA/D ratio of 14.5 -- although that is based on the entire sail plan (120% genoa, main, and mizzen), and I believe that the occasions when all of that sail area would be deployed are very rare, if ever. Using the main and genoa area only, the SA/D ratio is only 12.5 -- that's down in the "slow, heavy motorsailer" category. The D/L ratio is 221.5, which is in the right range that I think I'm looking for. In my notes that I keep, I had jotted down that I was looking for something in the SA/D 16-17 and D/L 225-300 range (if such a boat exists).

-- As you may know, the Morgan 462 has the fin keel (6'6") and skeg-hung rudder I was looking for.

-- It has a large engine compartment with easy access to all of the mechanical components, which I really like. That's probably also attributable to the center cockpit layout.

Sorry to overload with info and questions. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 05-12-2015, 03:31   #2
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

It sounds to me like you have talked yourself out of this boat for a range of reasons and would like something more like the Morgan. I will comment on the hard dodger because we have one - outside the tropics, you will come to love it.
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Old 05-12-2015, 04:17   #3
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pirate Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Delivered a Bruce Roberts 54 Ketch across the S Pacific to Perth WA... apart from when I got over the top of OZ where the wind went on the nose I barely used the main.. around 12000 miles was Genoa and Mizzen.. when the winds were light up went the single line furling Gennaker..
Personally I like ketches.. but under a certain size (37ft) I think they are not so great.
Guess it all boils down where you'll be sailing..
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Old 05-12-2015, 04:57   #4
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Cherp – Thanks for the response, esp. on the hard dodger. With respect to your other comment, this boat is a Morgan. And I'd say it's more like I'm seeing whether I can convince myself to overcome my initially-formed preferences (sloop, aft cockpit) and buy this boat (ketch, center cockpit), and get some feedback on whether my concerns about lack of visibility to the main because of the hard dodger are valid or not. Thanks
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Old 05-12-2015, 05:50   #5
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Our boat is an Oyster 435 cutter-rigged ketch with furling yankee and staysail. Main and mizzen are fully battened. Personally I find it brilliant for single-handed sailing (although my wife sails with me I generally manage unaided except when short-tacking).

For me the plus points are:

1. Very flexible and easily managed rig, with staysail and mizzen able to be carried in winds of up to 35 knots and yankee and mizzen a superb rig for downwind sailing.

2. Smaller and lighter sails so easier to handle and stow and less effort on winches.

3. Once correctly set up and sheeted, the boat will sail itself even without using the autopilot (less easy on a sloop).

4. Centre cockpit very reassuring, especially in following seas, and gives extra privacy when moored stern-to.

5. Helm position closer to the bow for anchor management/visibility and for close manoeuvring.

6. Large aft cabin with centreline double berth a very civilised arrangement (and quieter when at anchor).

The Oyster 435 has a semi-long encapsulated fin keel and skeg-hung rudder but this, coupled with the cutter/ketch rig, hasn't resulted in any compromise on speed. Apart from out-and-out racers, we've yet to be left standing by anything under 50 feet LOA and regularly leave Jeanneaus/Beneteaus/Bavarias and similar marques in our wake.

Downsides are, as you note, the extra rigging (and therefore cost of replacement) and - on some designs - the difficulty of rigging a bimini. But, for us at least, it's an inconvenience worth bearing.

Hope this helps you in your decision-making. Good sailing!

GORDON KNIGHT
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:09   #6
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

formosa 41 in tropics. will add hard dodger and bimini, i use mizzen and 110 percenter for sailing. is a comfortable and simple design to sail and easily repaired underway, which iss a plus. all boats need repairs underway at some point. best be easily accessible an d repairable without tearing all boat apart or becoming a spidermonkey to do the work..
it is easier to sola a ketch than a sloop in weather....MUCH easier. btdt.

and THE single most important part---if your heart is grabbed by the boat you will use it more than if you merely tolerate it. yes passion has a place in boat puchjases, just as it has in selecting a spouse.
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:59   #7
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

TLC,
I went through the same thing when we decided on the Brewer 44. Center cockpit, cutter rigged, shoal keel, skeg hung rudder. Not a ketch but some Brewer 44's are. We move up from a 37ft aft cockpit and I had second thoughts about the center cockpit too. Now I dont. We love the center cockpit for all the same reasons that Athena mentioned. Cockpit is big and roomy and its easy visibility over the bow. Not many on the market but I highly recommend you take a look at one if you can.
good luck.
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Old 05-12-2015, 07:32   #8
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

We have a 44' Camper Nicholson CC, and we added a hard topped dodger and bimini. It has been a great livaboard, we have not cruised it yet, as we bought it right after we finished a two year cruise on our Wauquiez 35' sloop. The CC design gets us cabin separation with privacy (wife is learning to play the guitar ;> ), a great engine room, and good tankage and storage. Since we are full time in Annapolis, we added a single air conditioner for the summer and hydronic heat for the winters, and she has been very comfortable.

I LOVE having most of the mechanical stuff in the engine room: Main engine, generator, AP drive, hot water heater, holding tank, hydronic heater, water pump. Many boats have that stuff spread all around the boat, and it makes the systems more complex, harder to maintain, and takes up valuable storage room.

We really look forward to more sailing to get to know her better, starting hopefully in the spring, after we finished some work on her. And perhaps full time cruising again in the future.

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Old 05-12-2015, 13:03   #9
TCL
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Gordon -- Thanks for your comments. Definitely helps. Had read about ketches perhaps being easier on autopilots; good to get firsthand confirmation.
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Old 05-12-2015, 13:08   #10
TCL
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Thanks, zeehag -- Good points. Agreed about the value of passion!
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Old 05-12-2015, 13:10   #11
TCL
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Thanks bfiegener. Good to hear firsthand from someone who went through the same thought process. I'll look out for a Brewer 44.
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Old 05-12-2015, 13:12   #12
TCL
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
I LOVE having most of the mechanical stuff in the engine room: Main engine, generator, AP drive, hot water heater, holding tank, hydronic heater, water pump.
Thanks for your comments, Chris. The engine room definitely was a big plus for me, as well. Best of luck on the rest of your work on her.

TCL
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Old 05-12-2015, 13:19   #13
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

I have a 50ft CC cutter rigged ketch with hard dodger. With regards to seeing the main its no problems as we have a big hatch in the top to see through and also helps with airflow when at anchor in the tropics.
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Old 05-12-2015, 14:05   #14
TCL
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

Thanks, Mattyb. A friend suggested cutting a window in the dodger roof, and it's something I started considering. Should be a fairly straightforward project to put in some plexiglas. Hadn't thought about a hatch -- but the airflow point is a good one. Thanks again.
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Old 05-12-2015, 14:14   #15
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Re: Soliciting thoughts on ketch, center cockpit, hard dodger cruiser

My boat is a 74 cal 2-46 center cockpit ketch with an inner forestry: built around same time period and similar displacement. I find her easy to sail and am really happy with my choice. If you google cal 2-46 vs Morgan I think you'll find some information


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