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Old 16-07-2004, 11:54   #1
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I need advice for a first purchase

First, has anyone ever heard of or seen a double ended cutter rig catch? The reason for such a bout is all of the good things I've heard about those features. I only have a year of sailing under my belt and I've only been on two short cruises. I'd like some advice for a seaworthy boat to buy.

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Old 16-07-2004, 23:54   #2
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Cutter-Ketch Double-Ender ?

Each of the features you’ve cited will, certainly, have their proponents - but will also have their detractors. It seems to me, you might be looking at four questions:
What are the pro’s and con’s of ...
1. Double-Ended (canoe stern) Hulls ?
2. Cutter Rig ?
3. Ketch Rig ?
4. The combination of Cutter-Ketch on a Canoe body ?

Personally, I’m not particularly fond of any of these layouts. I have neither the time, nor expertise to offer a detailed analysis of the questions - but will start the ball rolling with a couple of basic observations:

Each of these will add cost to a comparable Bermuda-Rigged Sloop, with a modern underbody.

- more difficult to utilize the stern & lazarette for such things as boarding ladders, wind-vanes, and etc.
- wave-splitting ability countered by reduced reserve buoyancy, and volume (storage).

- more flexible sail combinations offset by more complicated sail-handling and larger sail inventory requirement.

- as with Cutter, more flexible but also more complicated.

I look forward to some excellent detailed replies (we have some true “experts” aboard), and a spirited debate.

Gord May
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Old 17-07-2004, 06:35   #3
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This is the kind of discussion that could fill a book. As Gordon so aptly said, you are asking about three separate things; double enders and Cutter or Ketch rigs (a boat can be a cutter or a ketch but not both at the same time).

To answer your simple question the answer is 'Yes', there are boats that are cutter or ketch rigged double-enders.

In the big picture, being a double ender (at least as they are typically designed for cruising boats) does absolutely nothing good for a boat. They are an affectation, a style thing that does not help a boat in any conditions but which robs performance, seaworthiness, storage and comfort. I cannot imagine what good things that a sailor knowlegeable about yacht design would say about a double end. That said there are some good double ended cruisers out there dispite their double ends.

Although the opinion of those how have truly spent time studying alternative rigs for offshore and coastal use has shifted from the cutter rig to fractional sloop rigs, cutters still have their ardent fans for offshore use. Since you seem unclear about the definition of the various capabilities I am including the following which was exerpted from something that I wrote for another purpose.

Sloops and cutters are the most common rigs being produced today. In current usage these terms are applied quite loosely as compared to their more traditional definitions. Traditionally the sloop rig was a rig with a single mast located forward of 50% of the length of the sailplan. In this traditional definition a sloop could have multiple jibs.

Cutters had a rig with a single mast located 50% of the length of the sailplan or further aft, multiple headsails and in older definitions, a reefing bowsprit (a bowsprit that could be withdrawn in heavy going). Somewhere in the 1950's or 1960's there was a shift in these definitions such that a sloop only flew one headsail and a cutter had multiple headsails and mast position became irrelevant. For the sake of this discussion, I assume we are discussing the modern definition of a sloop and a cutter.

Historically, when sail handling hardware was primitive and sails were far more stretchy than they are today, the smaller headsails and mainsail of a traditional cutter were easier to handle and with less sail stretch, allowed earlier cutters to be more weatherly (sail closer to the wind) than the sloops of the day. With the invention of lower stretch sailcloth and geared winches, cutters quickly lost their earlier advantage.

Today sloops are generally closer winded and easier to handle. Their smaller jibs and larger mainsail sailplan are easier to power up and down. Without a jibstay to drag the Genoa across, sloops are generally easier to tack. With less hardware sloops are less expensive to build.

Sloops come in a couple varieties, masthead and fractional. In a masthead rig the forestay and jib originates at the masthead. In a fractional rig, the forestay originated some fraction of the mast height down from the masthead. Historically, sloops were traditionally fractionally rigged. Fractional rigs tend to give the most drive per square foot of sail area. Their smaller jibs are easier to tack and they reef down to a snug masthead rig. Today they are often proportioned so that they do not need overlapping headsails, making them even easier to sail. One of the major advantages of a fractional rigs is the ability when combined with a flexible mast, is the ability to use the backstay to control mast bend. Increasing backstay tension does a lot of things on a fractional rig: it tensions the forestay flattening the jib, and induces mast bend, which flattens the mainsail and opens the leech of the sail. This allows quick depowering as the wind increases and allows a fractional rig to sail in a wider wind speed range than masthead rig without reefing, although arguably requiring a bit more sail trimming skills.

While fractional rigs used to require running backstays, better materials and design approaches have pretty much eliminated the need for running backstays. That said, fractional rigs intended for offshore use, will often have running backstays that are only rigged in heavy weather once the mainsail has been reefed. The geometry of these running backstays typically allows the boat to be tacked without tacking the running backstays.

Masthead rigs came into popularity in the 1950's primarily in response to racing rating rules that under-penalized jibs and spinnakers and so promoted bigger headsails. Masthead sloops tend to be simpler rigs to build and adjust. They tend to be more dependent on large headsails and so are harder to tack and also require a larger headsail inventory if performance is important. Mast bend is harder to control and so bigger masthead rigs will often have a babystay that can be tensioned to induce mast bend in the same way as a fractional rig does. Dragging a Genoa over the babystay makes tacking a bit more difficult and slower. While roller furling allows a wider wind range for a given Genoa, there is a real limit (typically cited 10% to 15%) to how much a Genoa can be roller furled and still maintain a safely flat shape.

Cutters, which had pretty much dropped out of popularity during a period from the end of WWII until the early 1970's, came back into popularity with a vengeance in the early 1970's as an offshore cruising rig. In theory, the presence of multiple jibs allows the forestaysail to be dropped or completely furled, and when combined with a reefed mainsail, and the full staysail, results in a very compact heavy weather rig (similar to the proportions of a fractional rigged sloop with a reef in the mainsail). As a result the cutter rig is often cited as the ideal offshore rig. While that is the theory, it rarely works out that the staysail is properly proportioned, (either too small for normal sailing needs and for the lower end of the high wind range (say 20-30 knots) or too large for higher windspeeds) and of a sail cloth that makes sense as a heavy weather sail or which is too heavy for day to day sailing in more moderate conditions. Also when these sails are proportioned small enough to be used as heavy weather sails, these rigs will often develop a lot of weather helm when being sailed in winds that are too slow to use a double reefed mainsail. Like fractional rigs, cutter rigs intended for offshore use, will often have running backstays that are only rigged in heavy weather once the mainsail has been reefed. Unlike the fractional rig, the geometry of these running backstays typically requires that the running backstays be tacked whenever the boat is tacked.

Cutters make a less successful rig for coastal sailing. Generally cutters tend to have snug rigs that depend on larger Genoas for light air performance. Tacking these large Genoas through the narrow slot between the jibstay and forestay is a much harder operation than tacking a sloop. As a result many of today's cutters have a removable jibstay that can be rigged in heavier winds. This somewhat reduces the advantage of a cutter rig (i.e. having a permanently rigged and ready to fly small, heavy weather jib).

Cutters these days generally do not point as close to the wind as similar sized sloops. Because of the need to keep the slots of both headsails open enough to permit good airflow, the headsails on a cutter cannot be sheeted as tightly as the jib on a sloop without choking off the airflow in the slot. Since cutters are generally associated with the less efficient underbodies that are typical of offshore boats this is less of a problem that it might sound. Cutters also give away some performance on deep broad reaches and when heading downwind because the Genoa acts in the bad air of the staysail.

Yawls and Ketches:

As I said at the start of this discussion, boats are systems and when it comes to one size fits all answers, there is no single right answer when it comes to yawls and ketches either. A Yawl is a rig with two masts and the after mast (the mast that is further aft or further back in the boat) is aft of the rudder. A ketch is a rig with two masts, the after mast is forward of the rudder. Either rig can have either a single jib or multiple jibs. When a Yawl or a Ketch has multiple jibs it is referred to a Yawl or a Ketch with multiple headsails. It is considered lubberly to refer to that rig as a 'cutter ketch' or 'cutter Yawl'.

I lump yawls and ketches together here because the share many similar characteristics. Ketches, in one form or another, have been around for a very long time. In the days before winches, light weight- low stretch sail cloth, high strength- low stretch line, and low friction blocks, breaking a rig into a lot of smaller sails made sense. It made it easier to manhandle the sails and make adjustments. Stretch was minimized so the sails powered up less in a gust and although multiple small sails are less efficient, the hulls were so inefficient that the loss of sail efficiency did not hurt much. Multiple masts, along with bowsprits and boomkins, allowed boats to have more sail area that would be spread out closer to the water. In a time of stone internal ballasting, and high drag in relatinship to stability, this was important as it maximized the amount of drive while minimizing heeling. In theory, multiple masts meant more luff length and more luff length meant more drive forces to windward. But multiple masts also meant more weight and much more drag. There are also issues of down draft interference, meaning that one sail is operating in the disturbed and turbulent air of the sails in front of it, which also greatly reduces the efficiency of multi mast rigs.

Yawls really came into being as race rule beaters. They are first seen in the 1920's as a rule beater under the Universal and International rules. They continued to be popular under the CCA rule as well. Under these rules, the sail area of jibs and mizzens were pretty much ignored in the rating. This popularized the masthead rig and the yawl.

There was a basis for not measuring the sail area of a yawl under these rules. On a yawl going to windward, the mizzenmast and sail generally actually produce more drag than they do drive. This is because the mizzen is sailing in really turbulent air and has to be over trimmed to keep from luffing which can effectively act as an airbrake. This is slightly less of the case on a ketch where the size of the mizzen is large enough to provide a larger percentage of the drive.

Downwind mizzens also are a problem. In this case the mizzen is forcing the main or foresail to operate in their bad air and so again the mizzen is not adding as much to the speed of the boat as they are taking away. BUT in the predominantly reaching races that were typical of offshore races of that era they offered a number of advantages. First of all on a reach the sails are not acting in the slipstream of each other and so each contributes a fair amount of drive for the drag produced. Also with the advent of lightweight low stretch sailcloths, mizzen staysails, which are great reaching sails, came into widespread usage in racing. Here again a ketch has the advantage of having a taller mizzen and so can fly a bigger mizzen staysail.

It might be helpful to compare yawl and ketch rigs to sloops. The broad generalities are that for a given sail area a sloop rig will generate a greater drive for the amount of drag generated pretty much on all points of sail. That means that a sloop will be faster or will require less sail area to go the same speed. Sloops are particularly better than Multi spar rigs such as Yawls and Ketches on a beat or on a run. A sloop rig would tend to be taller for a given sail area. This means it would be better in lighter air but it potentially might heel more, or need to be depowered or reefed sooner as the breeze picks up.

Sloops work best on boats with reasonably modern underbodies. Both are more efficient and so can point higher and make less leeway.

Ketch and Yawl rigs work best with heavier boats with less efficient underbodies such as full keels and deeply Vee'd hull forms. These hull forms often need a lot more drive and the hull is the limiting factor in how fast or how close-winded the boat will be. The yawl or ketch rig's lack of windward ability is less of a liability when placed on a hull that similarly lacks windward ability. Also, the ability of a ketch or yawl to carry more sail with less heeling moment also makes it a natural for a heavier hull form which often has comparatively little stability when compared to the amount of drive required to make a heavy boat move.

Much is made of the ketch or yawl's ability to be balanced to help with self-steering, to hove to, or the ability to simply sail under Jib and mizzen in a blow. This is one aspect that a traditional ketch or yawl has over a traditional sloop. It is not so true of modern sloops. Modern (especially fractional) sloops can be easily depowered and that reduces the need to reef. With modern slab reefing gear, reefing is far more easily accomplished than dropping the mainsail to the deck on a yawl or ketch. In a properly designed sloop balance is just not all that hard to achieve.

The performance of all three rigs, both on broad reaches and in lighter air, can be improved by the ability to carry kites of different types.

In terms of comfort at sea, ketch and yawl rigs push the weight of the spars closer to the ends of the boat which can increase pitch angles, albeit, while perhaps slowing pitching rates. The taller rigs of a sloop tend to increase roll angles while slowing roll rates.

Then there are structural issues. It is often difficult to properly stay a ketch or yawl rig as the mainmast backstay often need to be routed around the mizzen and the forward load component of the mizzen if often taken by the top of the mainmast. It is also often difficult to get proper aft staying on the mizzen of a ketch or yawl as well. These structural issues are particularly pronounced on Yawls where the mast is so far aft in the boat that on a traditional boat it is hard to get adequate staying base widths.

Many of the early fiberglass yawls were very poorly engineered. I heard the story of how the Bristol 40 became a yawl. It seems that Clint Pearson (who owned Bristol) had started to build a Bristol 40 sloop on order for a particular customer. As the boat was nearing completion the prospective owner bailed out leaving Mr. Pearson with bit of a problem. Almost at the same time came an enquiry about the availability of a Bristol 40 yawl for prompt delivery for a different person. Without hesitation the potential buyer was told that they happened to have a yawl that was almost finished and would be available in a few weeks. Bristol was building a 24 foot Corsair and they took a mast and rigging from a Corsair and used that for the mizzen. A block of wood was glassed onto the hull for a mast step and a hole cut in the deck for the mast to go through and Voila- the Bristol 40 yawl. Several more were built like that and they quickly proved problematic. Eventually the design was engineered to solve the problems that occurred on the first few yawls.

You often hear people say that yawls and ketches are simpler rigs to handle. I am not clear why that is assumed to be so as there are more sails to trim and more interaction between the individual sails. As on a sloop, you start trimming from the forward most sail moving aft. Also as on a sloop, fine tuning, small adjustments are made moving forward again to reduce downdraft interference between the sails. Sailed with the same degree of precision, a ketches and yawls require more fine tunning than a sloop but on the whole about the same amount of fine tuning as a cutter.

Anyway, in conclusion, if you are interested in sailing performance or ease of handling, a sloop rig makes more sense. To me the only justification for the yawl rig today is solely romantic charm, or a sense of history. I do not mean this to be a put down to those who love historic rigs, but for sheer sailing ability a yawl or ketch is a relic of another time, or an obsolete racing rule. Still, if you live in an area that is typically windier and you like traditional boats, then a ketch or yawl is an interesting albeit complicated rig.

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Old 17-07-2004, 07:39   #4
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Wow, Jeff. Nice post.

You gotta admit, though, there is hardly anything cooler than a matching mizzen staysail and spinnaker. Just looks like what a sailboat should look like.

Add a big blooper and we're in full flashback mode.



s/v High Cotton
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Old 17-07-2004, 10:24   #5
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I appreciate everything said and described. I got alot more than I expected. I am going to print this out so I can read it a few times today to imprint it in my memory.
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Old 17-07-2004, 13:24   #6
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Yawl's and Ketches

Jeff has some interesting analysis of Yawls and Ketches, which I do not completely agree with. I cut my sailing teeth with a 45' wood sailing Yawl of 14 tons, built by Bristol in 1935. Over the ten years of ownership, I learned some of the advantages and disadvantages of two masts. The ship had no winches for the sheet lines, depending upon wooden blocks.

In general, a Yawl or Ketch has shorter Main Mast than a ship having a single mast and carries somewhat heavier ballast. This combo serves to give less healing at sea during heavy weather. True, the Mizzen produces drag and provides little power when the wind is 40 degrees or less of the forequarter, but on a reach the mizzen is a power sail that adds horsepower to the sail plan. Moreover, the mizzen's placement far aft allows much more head sail to be added during light to moderate wind.

My Yawl often sailed with a Genoa on the fore wire, a sweeper on the second wire, and a club jib. Such high square footage of sails forward would not be practical for sloops and would require much rudder to compensate (Drag).

Also, in general, a Yawl or Ketch, if designed as such, has the main mast stepped further aft than the sloop mast. (Some two mast'ers are originally designed for a single mast and the Mizzen just added.) The proof is in the ship's performance.

A Yawl or Ketch is a "Reaching" blue water sailer, in that the mizzen is set to hold a steady course with the rudder streamlined.

Tending the sails is no problem, as at sea the wind is fairly steady. One hardly ever needs to tend to steering. A wind of 15-18 kts always put the Yawl at hull speed and the crew relaxed with no one at the helm. But perhaps the Yawl's extra ballast might result in a quarter kt slower hull speed than a sloop? I doubt that this would be the practical result because the sloop requires much more rudder steering (rudder drag)

Haven't had a lot of experience with a Ketch rig, but I would think that the Ketch with its smaller mizzen might not be as efficient as the Yawl?

For direct Down wind sailing you simply drop the mizzen and the ship becomes a Sloop, but an aft quarter wind provides good sail power for both the Main and Mizzen.

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Old 17-07-2004, 19:59   #7
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Are you stuck on a mono?
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Old 21-07-2004, 14:36   #8
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I do want a monohull, because I have heard that they are slower . In bad weather isn't that an advantage when sliding down waves, because it helps prevent damage? That is another reason I was wanting a double ended boat because the North Atlantic fishing boats are double ended to help with waves. I am trying to find out what is the best combination for a seaworthy vessel. I am not a racer so im not too worried about speed. I still would like to know alittle more about ketches. If you don't agree with what I have said, please give me your input because i am very new.

Also, off subject, are their any other good sailing forums or magazines I can subscribe to for more information.
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Old 21-07-2004, 16:40   #9
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The North Sea fishing boats out of NE England have blunt sterns to allow the nets to go over the back. Rather than parting the wave the blunt stern boat lifts out of the way. A wider aft section allows a sailboat to handle rough weather better. That info can be found in books on design. The Nature of Boats by David Gerr is one of the better all round books about boats, in my opinion. I would not buy a pointy back end boat. BC Mike C
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Old 22-07-2004, 05:32   #10
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With all due respect, I would like to clarify or correct some items in F94Bill's post.

"1935 Bristol":
I am not sure what company F94Bill is referring to but to clarify the Bristol Yachts that I am referring to is a company started by Clint Pearson in the 1960's after his cousin Everett and he sold Pearson Yachts to Grumman. That company never built wooden boats.

"Yawl or Ketch has ........somewhat heavier ballast"
Generally speaking, yawls and ketches have less ballast relative to their overall displacement and sail area that sloops and cutters. Ketch and yawls with their lower rigs get by with less stability but that is somewhat offset by their heavier spar weights.

"....on a reach the mizzen is a power sail that adds horsepower to the sail plan. Moreover, the mizzen's placement far aft allows much more head sail to be added during light to moderate wind."
When you look at sail plans the most important factors are sail area, efficiency, complexity, and tendancy to produce heeling. Ketch and yawl rigs generally do carry more sail area than a sloop of the same displacement, but the sail area is far less efficient being broken into smaller parts and acting in the down draft (bad air) of the other sails. The headsails on a sloop or cutter generally have a taller hoist allowing them to carry larger more efficient headsails than is the norm on a ketch or yawl.

"My Yawl often sailed with a Genoa on the fore wire, a sweeper on the second wire, and a club jib. Such high square footage of sails forward would not be practical for sloops and would require much rudder to compensate (Drag). "
There are two points here. when you have three separate sails crammed into the foretriangle of a boat this size, they become extremely inefficient, requiring a lot more sail area to achieve the same drive of a single smaller sail, but beyond that, balance and the amount of rudder required comes from the relationship of the underwater side loads to theabove water side loads. A sloop or cutter could be designed with the same number of sails in the foretriangle as F94Bill is describing and be perfectly balanced. That said, there is absolutely no reason that in this day and age anyone would design a comparatively small boat with that many sails in the froetriangle.

"Yawl or Ketch, if designed as such, has the main mast stepped further aft than the sloop mast. "
With all due respect to F94Bill, Yawls and ketches are generally designed with their main masts further forward of the position typical of a sloop or cutter's single mast in order to balance the center of effort which would otherwise be located further aft by the forces of the mizzen.

"A Yawl or Ketch is a "Reaching" blue water sailer, in that the mizzen is set to hold a steady course with the rudder streamlined"
Again this is a matter of balance. A well designed sloop is no more or less balanced than a well designed ketch or yawl. Over trimming or under trimming the mizzen to achieve balance typically has the same drag impact as having the rudder cocked over.

"A wind of 15-18 kts always put the Yawl at hull speed and the crew relaxed with no one at the helm."
That may be true of some Yawls, but it is no more true for a yawl than it would be for a sloop or cutter. Also just for the record, most modern boats will sail at hull speed at windspeeds in the 10 knot range and achieve substantially higher than hull speed at the windspeeds mentioned above.

"Haven't had a lot of experience with a Ketch rig, but I would think that the Ketch with its smaller mizzen might not be as efficient as the Yawl?"
Ketches generally have a larger mizzen than a yawl and that mizzen tends to be more efficient than the often vestage mizzens employed on many yawls.

"For direct Down wind sailing you simply drop the mizzen and the ship becomes a Sloop"
True, sort of, but a sloop with a lot less sail area and more drag from the mizzen than a real sloop.

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Old 18-09-2004, 09:15   #11
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Every type of boat will have its own proponents, some more vocal than others.

What seemed to be lacking from the discussion so far, was any mention of the budget for the purchase of the boat and the physical capabilities and number of the intended crew.

If, for example, one is comfortable with the notion of spending $400 - 500,000 on a first boat while, at the same time, he is a 30-something in peak physical condition with many friends to crew, then a well-built, modern sloop with racing capabilities should be just about perfect. On the other hand, if budgets and physical capabilities are limited, then so too are the choices.

Much of what JeffH has said regarding the layup of early fiberglass boats is certainly true. However, there were many exceptions; one has only to be careful in selection and use the services of a good surveyor to be able to differentiate between the good, the bad and the ugly.

Anecdotally, I've experienced the result when hurricane forces caused my boat to collide with another, lesser one in a marina; my 1972 fiberglass ketch suffered scratches to the hull along the turn of the bilge and a broken stern rail. The other, modern, high-priced boat? It's foredeck peeled open like a sardine can and it filled with water and went to the bottom.

Other factors that may influence the selection include the size and cost of new sails. The large 400 sq. ft dacron mainsail for a sloop may cost $3-5,000. A smaller one of 290 sq ft for a ketch like mine can be had for under $3k. The larger sail will also weigh more and require more effort to raise or reef in a 'blow' or just to carry around on deck when the seasons change.
At age 61, singlehanding a 25,000 lb boat, I'm concerned about reducing sizes and weights to manageable levels.

Depending upon whether a boat is likely to be exposed to long open water trips or merely sailed in protected waters, a fin keel, spade rudder boat will produce a livelier, more responsive motion, with quicker (more tiring) rolls and surge, while a longer keel & skeg or so-called full keel will generally produce an easier motion at sea, albeit with some loss of maneuverability in tight quarters, like marinas.

Anecdotally again, my "stays'l ketch" has many more sail plan options as wind strength and sea state increase; the popular "jib & jigger" (working jib & mizzen) provides a nice easily handled motion off the wind at anything up to about 25kts apparent. At higher winds/rougher water, I can rollup the jib completely, put two reefs in the main, and sail comfortably with my heavy air stay's'l and reefed main up to 30-35 kts apparent. None of the changes in conditions require me to do foredeck sail changes or to have crew along to handle the boat.

In the final analysis, "you pays yer money and you takes yer choice" - after getting as much information in advance as is possible.

Just another opinion...
Allied 39
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Old 18-09-2004, 19:13   #12
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More, more, gi-me more. This is just the most fantastic reading. Keep it up guy's, especially Jeff

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
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Old 19-09-2004, 16:36   #13
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Pacific Seacraft Yawl

Mr. Shankmmz,

By the sounds of it what you need is an early (circa 1983) Pacific Seacraft 37 yawl, maybe they called it a ketch.
As for seaworthy boats, they're all pretty good. You have to know where you're going before you decide what type of boat to get.
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Old 10-03-2007, 17:38   #14
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Wink A Salty Boat For SW Florida

I found this discussion of yawls, ketches and double-enders very interesting. I am in the market for a very traditional boat to sail out of Naples. I need a shallow draft and would prefer something in which 4 can overnight. I really want a salty, older boat about 35' but fear that the need for shallow draft in this area will drive me towards a multi-hull. Any ideas??
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Old 10-03-2007, 18:44   #15
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If ya have the bucks, this would be great for SW FL.
Shoalsailer 35 Specifications

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