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Old 16-11-2010, 00:12   #1
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To Ketch or Not to Ketch

In searching for a liveaboard my thoughts keep coming back to Ketches. But being a newby I shy away ( in my thoughts ) because of the fact that there's 3 sails to manage instead of two. The upkeep is an issue, but how manageable is a Ketch for a singlehander when the winds go to 25+

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Old 16-11-2010, 00:30   #2
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don't know about single handed, issues, but just in general, be wary of the running back stay on the mizzen. don't know how common this feature is on ketches.

our ketch has this. The backstay is split, and each stay has a block to release the leeward side so the sail can move laterally. When tacking or jibing, the skipper has to remember to tighten the running backstay so the mast doesn't have an unsupported windward backstay. I really don't like this feature.

I imagine I would like it even less if I were single handling the boat.
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Old 16-11-2010, 00:52   #3
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I think a ketch would have a lot of advantages for a single hander. Sails are smaller and easier to handle (for a given size boat). Boat is much easier to balance. Of course more ropes to pull and more things to maintain.
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Old 16-11-2010, 01:29   #4
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Bought a small ketch – sail nearly always single-handed – have not looked back! Biggest advantage over 25 knts is at anchor; leave the mizzen up tight and it holds you steady into the wind and marginally onto the anchor.

Oh, it is a wonder no one else has already pointed out you should do a site search on this topic. There has been at least one excellent thread about the same of late.
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Old 16-11-2010, 01:37   #5
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Thanks Surfer, I'll check it out
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Old 16-11-2010, 02:21   #6
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I have had cutter,fractional & masthead sloops in the past.My present boat is ketch rigged & the easiest to sail.When the weather is really bad ,small jib & mizzen balances nicely,Not all ketches have running backstays.I agree pita.marc
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Old 16-11-2010, 02:35   #7
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My ketch has running backstays on the main mast but not on the mizzen. I singlehanded the pacific without any real problems, and that's on a 65' boat with full-sized sails for the rig.

Now, I'm 29 and in good (but not superb!) physical condition, but I do think ketch rigs are absolutely the easiest to singlehand, if you're talking about manual hoisting and not electrical assistance. So many sail options, and the redundancy is also quite valuable. I learned that the hard way when my main boom mounting pin sheered an ear off and I was left with the foresails and mizzen from Hawaii all the way to the PI.

I'd have done at least bit of superficial damage to my spar if I'd had to lash the main alongside, but as it was I just faux-mounted it with a piece of threaded rigging base and cruised all the way here in comfort on my mizzen.

The other argument is that there's twice as much that can break, but I generally don't view things that particular way. Just me, though.
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Old 16-11-2010, 03:30   #8
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I've had both sloop and ketch and I won't be going back to a ketch. I think that with modern sail handling gear and modern sail cloth the advantage of dividing sail area up into more easily handled pieces is negated.
I like the simplicity of a sloop, the lower initial cost of gear and ongoing maintenance and the space released when you don't have a mizzen mast standing in the cockpit.
The mizzen does provide a degree of redundancy, as long as you don't have a triatic stay, and it gives you somewhere to mount the wind generator.
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Old 16-11-2010, 03:54   #9
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Great question and topic. I too considered this and spoke to a couple of experienced people in the marina here. The general opinion was that the Ketch came about to give a larger sail area but still be manageable by splitting them up. However, with a advent of the new 'Bermuda' style rigs, it wasn't needed anymore and so they have now virtualy died out.

I think the deciding factor is going to be down to the age and price range you have. If you can affort a mid/late '90's boat, then it won't be a Ketch anyway but if you're going for older stuff then they will be much more dominant in that end of the market.

Personaly, I'm looking for a vessel that I can sail single/short handed so dismissed the Ketch out of hand. However, 'notquitelost' raised an interesting point, the Ketch does have some 'redundancy' built in and you can still sail if the mainsail fails. Got me thinking again now, hmmmmm !!!
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Old 16-11-2010, 03:57   #10
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you mean , without the mizzen you have someplace to mount the wind generator? I didn't understand.
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Old 16-11-2010, 04:04   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gpshephe View Post
you mean , without the mizzen you have someplace to mount the wind generator? I didn't understand.
No... what he meant was you can mount the wind generator on the mizzen mast
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Old 16-11-2010, 14:01   #12
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There are many different ketch designs and as with sloops some are better than others. Personally, I singlehand my 13 metre ketch and find the advantages far outweigh any downside. The sail combination possibilities and a much kinder "heal"

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Old 16-11-2010, 16:30   #13
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Like all things, ketches have many trade-offs. No one can deny that they are more work and more money. Also, they are not as fast on some points of sail However, they do have some major sail handling advantages.

Singlehanding, I much prefer a ketch. You can raise the mizzen at anchor, raise the anchor, then unroll the jib and be off sailing. It doesn't matter whether the main is up or not, if it is up, you let it luff until you have fallen off. My boat is small enough that I can back the mizzen by hand to get the boat to fall off the way that I want, on a bigger boat you have to back the jib, be really precise at raising the anchor, or use the engine. Anchoring is also a lot easier since you can roll up the headsail, shoot to windward, sheet the mizzen in hard and go forward to drop the hook. With a sloop, you have to worry about the boat falling off while you are forward dropping the anchor and then sailing off into a nearby boat.

Heavy weather is another area where a ketch is great. A lot of people take down their main as their "first reef". While taking it down, you can heave to with just the mizzen and comfortably leave the cockpit.

I realize that I speak in generalities but this stuff is true for most ketches. The only time that I see the extra sail as extra work is furling it at the end of the day.
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Old 16-11-2010, 17:45   #14
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Singlehanding,
Heavy weather is another area where a ketch is great. A lot of people take down their main as their "first reef". While taking it down, you can heave to with just the mizzen and comfortably leave the cockpit.

I realize that I speak in generalities but this stuff is true for most ketches. The only time that I see the extra sail as extra work is furling it at the end of the day.

Dito…,,, also find my ketch balances well hove-too on staysail and mizzen. Then as Not Quite Lost points out, if you did have an equipment failure you are likely to have preserved your main. To date I have blown both mizzen and mains and am glad I had the other sail as fallback.

While a sloop rig is a lot simpler I do enjoy playing with these things. On my boat the mizzen has been especially well designed to trim and self steer the boat.

On the expense side there is also an argument that you are spreading loads and wear over a larger area. Each sail and piece of rigging is also marginally smaller and less expensive.

While we are probably going over old ground from the other thread I am happy to say I am still more than content with my ketch.
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Old 16-11-2010, 19:32   #15
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Good points all. I haven't ruled out a ketch just yet.
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