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Old 07-02-2011, 06:10   #1
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Sailing a Ketch

Anyone with any tips to try out this year as I am about to purchase a ketch and have limited experience with working a mizzan. eg best way to heave to, balancing sials on different aspects, downwind sailing, anchoring,
Looking forward to the thoughts.
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Old 07-02-2011, 06:19   #2
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the mizzen always adds weather helm by moving the center of effort aft. Our ketch is full-keeled and we most always sail with the genny and the mizzen only. It is also useful when sailing under reduced rig, we use staysail and mizzen, both of which have booms and are self-tending. A handkerchief of mizzen tightly sheeted works as an anchoring sail. We have hydraulic steering so can't use the rudder to heave to but the staysail backwinded with the mizzen tightly sheeted does the trick. What kind of ketch are you buying?
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Old 07-02-2011, 06:30   #3
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Understanding the Mizzan

Thanks for the reply. I am buying a Moody 42 Ketch. I brought a Laurent Giles (39 ketch) up the North Sea from south coast to Peterhead in Scotland with a good 7 behind and loved the ease in which the mizzan and genny gave control in a rolling confused sea. I loved it and hence the Moody.
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Old 08-02-2011, 18:03   #4
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My first recommendation would be to try sailing the boat with the helm locked midships. It will give you a good feel for how the boat reacts to sail trim. I try to do this with any boat but some are quite difficult, most ketches are easy once you get the hang of it.

There have been many discussions on here about how to shorten sail with a ketch and there are different ways to do it depending on the boat and your preferences.

Sailing onto and off of the anchor/mooring is easy with a ketch in my opinion. When sailing into anchor, I furl the jib, let the mainsheet go and sheet the mizzen hard which keeps the boat head to wind. When singlehanding, this is especially helpful since you can go forward without worrying about the boat falling off and starting to sail again. If it is windy and you don't have the main up, you can still do the same thing. When sailing off the hook, I raise the mizzen and sheet it hard and raise the main and leave it loose. On smaller ketches, once you get the anchor off the bottom you can back the mizzen by physically pushing out the boom and get the boat to fall off to the desired tack. On larger ketches, you typically need to back a headsail to get the bow to fall off the right way.

If you experiment in open water, I am sure that you will come up with plenty of tricks that work well for you with your boat. Have fun.
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Old 08-02-2011, 21:01   #5
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Every ketch is different, but basically you have the following balanced sail-plans:

- jib/genoa + main + mizzen
- jib/genoa + mizzen
- main

There is one thing to check: does the main mast rigging (capshrouds/chainplates) allow you to sail without mizzen; some(many?) ketches count on part of the heeling forces being taken by the mizzen mast. Any rigger should be able to tell you quickly.

The optimum sailplan should be to hoist all three sails and reef them all if wind goes up. That said, we often drop the main at the end of the day and sail through the night with jib and mizzen (for comfort).

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Old 08-02-2011, 22:14   #6
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On the wind, the mizzen tends to become superfluous the higher you point.
Off the wind, the mizzen tends to become essential the more you reach.
With the wind, the mizzen mast tends to get in the way during cocktail hour.
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 09-02-2011, 13:31   #7
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I often watch an Endurance 35 sailing in our area. They drop the mizzen in heavy going and sail with reefed main and the staysail only.

Lovely boat to watch.

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Old 23-11-2015, 10:41   #8
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Re: Sailing a Ketch

Hi i opened a newvthread on ketch sailing tips would love to hear any comments
. I have a pic of the mizzen spinaker/staysail from the designer as well.
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ketch, sailing

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