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Old 09-07-2012, 17:52   #1
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The Death of the Ketch ?

Today, I had a think. How many yachtbuilders build ketches any more?

There was a time, only a few decades ago, when many of the biggest yards had ketch options for their hulls. Even Jeanneau started out by building a ketch, the Gin Fizz.

Now, it's hard to think of even a handful. Shannon have a fair lineup of ketches and Gozzard (who!?) have plans for a 50'er - but they are are the only names I could find. Maybe there are a few more builders out there I haven't heard of. If so, they aren't easy to find. Neither are exactly budget yachtbuilders. The only other option is a fully custom build - $750,000, minimum. Captain Average can no longer buy a ketch. The rig is, in effect, dead.

Looking at the rows of identikit sloops and fractional sloops lining the moorings and marinas, it seems even the ever-popular cutter is on its last legs. Consider just how many rigs there are. Ketch, cutter, yawl, schooner, staysail schooner, gaff, cat, lateen, square and more besides and dozens of varieties of each. Am I alone in being a little bit sad about this? Or is the sail handling convenience of the plain old sloop worth the loss of the dozens rigs and hundreds of types of sail which have been developed over the centuries?

As William Cowper said, "Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour." Does anyone else feel yachts have become a little bland?
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Old 09-07-2012, 18:24   #2
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Re: The death of the ketch?

I don't know, but it seems to me that Ketches have several advantages, like going under brides for one.
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Old 09-07-2012, 18:35   #3
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Re: The death of the ketch?

The big boys are mostly ketchs , low medium size yachts choose the sloop rig diferents reasons, market , customers want sloops, low cost, low maintenance, but hey is not dead, Amel , Dashews, Jongert, Alubat, still building ketchs..
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Old 09-07-2012, 18:51   #4
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Re: The death of the ketch?

If for no other reason, you want a split rig to fly "nature's sail", the mizzen staysail.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:49   #5
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Re: The death of the ketch?

Hey, I have been thinking the same lately. I am in the market for a 30-33 foot, economical (i.e. old) yacht, so I've literally looked through thousands of offerings from around the world. As you mention, most ketches seem be at least 30 years old!

As I found the idea of owning a Ketch interesting, I tried to look at new designs - in order to spot new tricks, design details, materials, etc. Well, there is none - not at these lengths, anyway...

It is a real shame, most new boats look alike. A bit like cars, I guess... I cannot tell a Hyundai from a Merc lately...
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:23   #6
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Re: The death of the ketch?

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Originally Posted by neilpride View Post
but hey is not dead, Amel , Dashews, Jongert, Alubat, still building ketchs..
All big yachts, built on semi or fully custom basis. No way can most of us here afford that. There simply aren't new equivalents of most of the ketches afloat today.
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:36   #7
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Re: The death of the ketch?

My boat has a ketch rig but the previous owner did not mount the mizzen mast. I have it stored and think now of mounting it again. It could be an asset in bad or stormy weather, having a small jib and the mizzen up. At half wind there is some advantage putting up an "ape". Certainly on the larger yachts the ketch rig becomes more efficient. For anything under 40' there are very few advantages.
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:51   #8
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Re: The death of the ketch?

Maybe one reason for the sloop rig in almost all new boats is because it is more "handy", for both boat yards and boat users. The yards make more profit on the same boat length, and the users are happy with fewer sails and lines.

The split sail area of a ketch was used in the past for keeping the centre of effort low in longer boats, for a better righting moment at the same draft. On the other side, the cutter rig was used for the bigger sail area obtained, at the same boat length (usually heavier boats).

One area of interest in unconventional sail arrangement could be the home-built multihull. As James Wharram designed some "ketchy" rigs for some of his catamarans, maybe in the future other designers will opt for this alternative.
Right now I am working on a cruising tri, which will be ketch rigged, for a lower centre of effort and an easier stepping of the masts.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:05   #9
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Re: The death of the ketch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by antaris View Post
Hey, I have been thinking the same lately. I am in the market for a 30-33 foot, economical (i.e. old) yacht, so I've literally looked through thousands of offerings from around the world. As you mention, most ketches seem be at least 30 years old!

As I found the idea of owning a Ketch interesting, I tried to look at new designs - in order to spot new tricks, design details, materials, etc. Well, there is none - not at these lengths, anyway...

It is a real shame, most new boats look alike. A bit like cars, I guess... I cannot tell a Hyundai from a Merc lately...
Keep an eye open for Kenner Privateer, or O'Day 37, Alberg 35.
Bluestocking, a Philip Rhodes, Reliant 41, is a Yawl.
One disadvantage is you complicate the cockpit area with a small split rig.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:07   #10
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I would assume you include yawls as well. Sad state indeed. I have sailed a yawl for 16 years and have felt proud to do it. However, I believe there are practcal reasons for this sorry state. Obviously cost is reason one. The add-on for a mizzen js incredibly expensive. I know of one builder that wants $30,000 plus for a sail that might cost a grand, rigging $800 and winches at $1000.
I have found a mizzen no help when sailing to weather, and with today's trend to EZ sailing, making a mizzen into mast furling just makes the cost thing worse.
There are many things I enjoy about a split rig- balanced hands- off control, off- wind performance, sexy radar mount, anchor riding sail, makes boat look great, ability to fly mizzen staysail, but most of those things mean work, and when so few people use the boats they have as it is. It seems the few who do want it to be as easy as possible.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:13   #11
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On yeah forgot to mention: Cockpit obstruction is not an issue with a yawl. And I left out an advantage- great place for a helmsman's seat. Cape Dory built some neat ketches.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:20   #12
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Re: The death of the ketch?

Now I think of it I believe that - in view of the place of the mizzen - my boat is more yawl-like than a real full ketch rig. The mizzen is placed completely aft with the little boom sticking outside the hull.
The surface is tiny, maybe 6-7 sq. meters.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:22   #13
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Re: The death of the ketch?

As in all things, the pendulum swings. It won't surprise me the least bit if, 30 years from now, ketches and yawls are just as popular as they were 30 years ago.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:38   #14
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Re: The death of the ketch?

I love the ketch rig. I own, and have sailed, a 34' ketch (a Grampian 34 ... currently for sale) for many years. For sail-plan versatility it is hard to beat the ketch. When the wind piped up, we would often run on just mizzen and foresale (jib & jigger). Easy to balance, easy to manage.

I now sail a cutter, which is nearly as versatile, but I still love the ketch.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:48   #15
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Re: The death of the ketch?

Gozzard has built 2 or 3 ketches beginning in, I believe, 2003. It was shown at the Annapolis Show, offered at a reasonable price vis-a-vis the cutter model and generated a little interest. Lately, there seems more interest in these rigs but their complexity has raised the cost to build.

Bob Perry has designed a 60' ketch now being built by, I think, Pacific Seacraft.
It has beautiful lines. Computer drawings can be found in this forum, as well as SA.

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