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Old 12-09-2021, 11:28   #1
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Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Hello all,

So I know a lot of you are probably groaning at the title, being that the age-old debate over whether a cutter or a ketch rig makes a better offshore boat is a horse that's been well beaten to death, revived and then beaten again, but be that as it may I'm looking for input on two specific vessels on the market at the moment, which roughly fit in with my outline of what an offshore boat should be. I'm a romanticist, so I love old lines and transom hung rudders, and have long envisioned myself sailing the great capes in a ketch.

The reason I'm comparing these apples to oranges in the first place is because although my ideal both is a ketch, and the Ingrid is known as an incredibly stout boat, it's also a pretty vanilla vessel, with what most would agree is an inferior cabin layout for a single-handed sailor, (being basically all bunks, with effectively much less "living space.") So the question of whether I should be happier sailing or living in the boat is ultimately what it comes down to.

Ingrid 38 Pros:

Ketch Rig: This is of course a preference. Some devoutly (and understandably) prefer cutters; however I am not one of them. Having sailed both rigs in serious conditions, I believe the ketch is a superior offshore rig, at least for my purposes. I hope I don't derail this whole discussion with a cutter v ketch debate, but my personal experience with certain similar (ie full-keel) cutters makes me strongly prefer a ketch, primarily for the ability to create windward helm when necessary, and for the safety of being able to jury-rig a lateen in case of a dismasting, not to mention greater options for balancing the boat, allowing for decreased steering input and thus drag. Although a cutter might be someone else's preferred boat; (I'm looking at you Mr. Perry,) for me a ketch just offers more options, and would feel like less of a compromise (to me) in terms of sailing performance and sense of security overall.

Light Air Performance: From what I've read, the Ingrid is going to be an easier boat to drive in light airs, perhaps partially due to her headrig and consequently spread out sail plan, or perhaps due to her hull being less beamy and more sleek. It's probably a combination of these attributes, but by all accounts the Ingrid is known to perform better and log more miles in a day. The caveat to this is I wonder if anyone has any experience with wood versus glass Ingrids, as I understand that this being a design built for wood, many people agree these BY boats have an inferior profile abaft the beam, which diminishes their light air performance relative to the earlier wood boats. Of course speed isn't everything, but it's nice to have a boat that sails well in the trade latitudes, in addition to the north sea.

Reportedly Faster: Tied to the above point, and not a huge deal, but it's nice to have a boat that was meant to log miles.

Capsize Screening: Better values on this controversial figure; I understand this is only one metric and a rough gauge at best, though most acknowledge that it's vaguely helpful.

Pros of this specific Boat (to me):

Newer Engine: In fact the whole boat is newer, having been purchased as a kit boat in 1980 and not finished til 2008.
Teak Cockpit/Glass Decks: Minimal maintenance comparatively, and still the warm feel and sure grip of a teak cockpit.

Cons of the Ingrid 38:

Ballast: I think the Bluewater Yachts Ingrids were known to have Lead & Steel instead of all Lead keels. Not sure about this one but it's a strong possibility. Not sure how that affects ultimate stability.

Increased Costs: Standing and running rigging, sails, spar maintenance, dock fees, port fees, mooring options, haulout & refit costs, etc etc...

And the reverse of all the pros for the Rafiki stated below:

Pros of the Rafiki 37:

Interior: The interior of this boat is in every way superior to the Ingrid for my purposes. I don't need a ton of bunk space, but I would like a functional nav station and a more comfortable salon, both of which this boat has. Both boats are heavy on the teak, and warm on the eyes in general, but I absolutely prefer the cabin layout (hands down) on the Rafiki; it just looks that much easier to live in.

Lower LOA: It's all well and good to dream about big boats, but if I'm planning on living the cruising lifestyle, that extra 10' of LOA between these two boats will add up over time, whenever I need to clear port, haulout, refit, tie up, or simply navigate a tight harbor. Not having a bowsprit is perhaps a disadvantage to this boat in terms of sailing performance, but in terms of long-term expense, it's nice to have the same quarters, but be subject to the >40' dock fees rather than the >50', etc.

Ballast/Disp: Much higher ballast to displacement ratio, and I think these boats had a lead keel to 6'. Can someone correct me if they used steel ballast?

Pros of the boat I'm looking at specifically:

Nav Station: More space and equipment
Freezer/Fridge: Instead of an icebox which I would have to replace on the Ingrid

Rafiki 37 Cons:

Windward Performance: This is my big hangup. I understand the Ingrid isn't known for her windward performance, but the Rafiki is known to have comparatively poor performance to weather, and considering I'm no gentleman, I would like that ability. I had a scary 2 week sail through the triangle in a storm, in a Tayana 37 years ago, and we literally lost the ability to tack, having to jibe the whole passage to windward of the VI, with downed ships power and consequently no engine. It was a hell of an ordeal, and it's possible the rake was poorly tuned, and or that the owner had overballasted the forepeak, but the notion of owning a similarly designed vessel makes me nervous in principle. I think even Bob would agree the Tayana was not his best work, but I'm sure she should have been able to tack, even in the conditions. That said, has anyone with a Rafiki ever been left without options like that?

Both of these boats have tillers, which is one of the reasons I'm comparing them. I want the feel and reliability that comes with tiller steering; again a strong preference of mine, romantic that I am. In fact it's the primary reason that I'm looking at the Rafiki, instead of say a Baba or a Westsail, which are otherwise wonderful boats, with steering systems I'd rather not run the risk of having fail somewhere in the southern ocean.

But then again that's the nature of this thread, to pick your brains as to what compromises you ultimately found to be worth making, or compromises you wish you had made, when selecting the boat you own. Or maybe reasons you sold a boat you did own, to replace it with the one you do. I understand my preferences are likely not your preferences, but I'm hoping to hear from the hardened salts, who've tried all the options, and/or from people who know these specific boats, and what your experiences with them has been. I'll also welcome anyone who thinks I'm overthinking this to chime in with your thoughts on what you think I should be thinking about. Let's just assume I'm not willing to buy a junk boat simply because it's a ketch, and that I also value my living space. And that my budget for a fully-kitted blue water cruiser is preferably somewhere in the $60k neighborhood, though both of the boats I'm looking at are less than that, and comparable to one another.

That said, I value versatility and reliability above all, so anyone who can tell me their experiences with these designs, and any problems or joys you've had with either of them, I will be most grateful to you. I'm open to having my eyes opened one way or another, or possibly in some way I still haven't thought of. Thanks in advance for any feedback the CF community has that might help me get it right the first time!
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Old 12-09-2021, 13:01   #2
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

You have done a good comparative analysis of the 2 boats you are interested in. Here are some additional thoughts to consider in your decision.

If you are single-handing or short-handed (1 crew/companion) extra berths on a boat are like junk drawers in a home…they tend to collect a lot of junk.

While cruising you will spend a lot of time at anchor. Don’t underestimate the importance of comfort and livability space.

WRT windward performance, I’ve sailed on Tayana and had no problem going to windward. But if you are cruising going to windward is typically not a wise choice. Cruisers can wait for a reasonable weather window. I would say that if more than 30% of your time on passage is to windward your probably on a schedule.

I admire the “romanticism” but that falls away very quickly and practicality, safety, and comfort should be your primary deciding factors.
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Old 12-09-2021, 13:23   #3
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

If you have a choice, always go with the boat designed by William Atkin.
While there may be similar looking designs, few designers have ever been in his class. And in the world of full keels, the nuance that he brought was everything.
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Old 12-09-2021, 14:24   #4
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Yes, when we hear the name, "Ingrid 38," we most generally think of Bluewater Boats.
They built a lot of them,, that is, they built a lot of "hulls", many, (most?,) of them are boats that were owner built, and the quality of the finished boats are all over the place; great>good>acceptable>poor>atrocious.
Here in the PNW they are commonly seen.
Ballast is an issue, one would be wise to ascertain the type and weight before purchase.
I've sailed on a wood Atkin, but it was Ingrid's bigger brother, a "Little Ranger" ketch, but since the sea was calm and the winds light, I cannot speak to the boats performance in heavier conditions, but it sailed and handled easily enough.
You mentioned Westsail, wheel steering was on the 42/43 boats, a totally different animal than the 32, which as far as I know was never fitted with a wheel from the factory.
If a ketch is not a "must have" condition, and one wanted an "Ingrid", one would be hard pressed to find anything as good as an Aljuela 38, they are faithfull to the original, (allowing for some fairing changes in going from wood to fiberglass,) they are good sailing machines, and the tooling for the molds is superior to many boats, (think hull to deck joint,) which seems to be a constant problem in many fiberglass boats, no matter the age or builder.
If I could offer any criticism of the Ingrid design, it would be the run of the buttock lines in the after sections,, could be a little fuller/flatter, they are quite fine aft, Atkins later double enders are a bit fuller/flatter aft.
Oh, and just a little bit more beam.
However, after a bunch of words, I do think that a "well found/well built" Bluewater would scratch your itch, you can always change some interior issues.
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Old 12-09-2021, 14:27   #5
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Thank you both for your input; both are equally valid points, ultimately. There have been a lot of imitations of Atkin's and Archer's work, but I think there are relatively few that understood the nuances in hull design that either demonstrably did. That said, the Bluewater Yacht fiberglass boat may have been something of a compromise in and of itself, due to the nature of wood vs fiberglass construction. Plus this one is owner-finished, so marginally more suspect, perhaps.

But the argument about living space isn't lost on me at all, as I know at least half the time I'll be at anchor, as I plan to take my time exploring the globe. I have damned-fool notions of sailing "the wrong way" around the horn and such, but that's probably just a damned fool notion, considering I don't really need to do that, and up to this point I've only done the Cape of Good Hope in the right direction, which was interesting enough, being the cape of storms as it is.

And I always figured the maiden voyage (to that owner) of the Tayana I was on was nearly doomed due to something other than her basic design; it's just that the experience stayed with me, and might have somehow put me off to cutters, or rather on to ketch's. Then I did the Foxy's regatta one year in a Formosa 51 that lost it's steering gear, and the mizzen proved indispensable in avoiding a lee shore that would have otherwise meant we did worse than come in last...

The only problem with Billy Atkin Designs is that they're a little spartan by today's standards. I mean I've been comfortable in a tent for a summer, frankly, but that was then, and nowadays I've gotten used to my space, and would like to keep some of it, particularly if I end up sharing it with my lady on more than the occasional leg.


Ultimately I know it comes down to the boat in question versus the boat in question, but subtle nuances in design aren't lost on me either.
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Old 12-09-2021, 14:33   #6
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Thanks Bowdrie. The reason I didn't mention the Alajuela is because I haven't seen a etch on the market for a while, and they're kind of a rarity. I know the Alajuela had certain design improvements which are absolutely desirable. I'm just looking at what's available at the moment, and as one would expect, there aren't any Alajuela 38 ketch's for sale on my continent that I'm aware of. If there was I would be interested for sure.
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Old 12-09-2021, 14:46   #7
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Can't tell you much about the Ingrid. I only know it by its (good) reputation. But I own a Rafiki-37. So might be able to help you out with that.

You asked about windward performance; she doesn't point as high as a modern fin keel, but I've never run into the tacking problem you mentioned. She moves through the wind well as long as you're balanced properly. She is largely main-driven, so reefing to balance forsails is important.

Keel: I actually don't know. I've seen conflicting information. It is encapsulated, and I've not found a reason to dig into mine. Either way, I've never heard of any issues with the Rafiki's keel.

What else would you like to know?
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Old 12-09-2021, 16:06   #8
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

So glad to hear from a happy Rafiki owner Mike. There aren't very many Rafiki 37 owners out there, by all accounts. And I should have known better than to make a statement that sounded anything like questioning a living legend, and one of the greatest yacht designers of all time. I always suspected it was a rigging or stowage issue, because I found it impossible to believe it could be a design flaw, but nevertheless that's why I appreciate your input; because although I managed to learn seamanship and the art of sail, yachts are less my wheelhouse than tall ships, or dinghys for that matter, and I just don't know what I don't know.

I guess maybe you could tell me some of the things you like about your Rafiki, and whether she fits your mold as the perfect boat (or near perfect) for you, if there is such a thing. Any long-term maintenance issues that you think are unduly frequent or unnecessary would be helpful to know, as well as whether you've ever wished you had something else. Have you ever sailed her in a gale? If so how'd she do? How is she in light airs? Would you or have you changed anything about her to improve her performance? Do you have a windvane on her and if so what does she like?

Feel free to ignore whatever questions are tedious for you to answer, but those are all things I'd like to know. Same is true of you Ingrid/Alajuela folk, of which there are a few handfuls more. Thanks again everyone for your helpful input. I'm considering all of it.
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Old 12-09-2021, 17:15   #9
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Rafiki owners tend to be eclectic. Youíll have to quit shaving and use words known only above the 46th parallel. Beer belly a must. If you get an Aloha you get a good boat, but can wear Hawaiian shirts
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Old 13-09-2021, 03:47   #10
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Williwawler View Post
I'm a romanticist, so I love old lines and transom hung rudders, and have long envisioned myself sailing the great capes in a ketch.
Everything you wrote after this point is of no importance. If you want a ketch, find a ketch in a sufficiently good state and buy it.

All these pro-contra lists are totally pointless and only serve to put fake reasons on the outcome you wish for. Doubly so if you need to drag out those stupid comfort and capsize numbers. Nothing beats living on the boat of your dreams. If you want to be rational and reasonable, get a decent modern boat and forget about all oldtimers. Modern boats just are better.

If you're uncertain whether a ketch fits you and lives up to your expectation, read up on the desired model and try to get aboard one. Once you're on board, you'll know if it's the right boat for you.

(This is from someone happily living on a 39 year old boat, so no, I'm not biased towards modern boats)
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Old 13-09-2021, 08:31   #11
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

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Originally Posted by Tetepare View Post
Rafiki owners tend to be eclectic. Youíll have to quit shaving and use words known only above the 46th parallel. Beer belly a must. If you get an Aloha you get a good boat, but can wear Hawaiian shirts
How'd you know .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Williwawler View Post
I guess maybe you could tell me some of the things you like about your Rafiki, and whether she fits your mold as the perfect boat (or near perfect) for you, if there is such a thing.
I like my boat... a lot. She is beautiful to behold, with classic looks and lines. She turns heads in an anchorage. It's not like the now ubiquitous tupperware monohulls that, to my eye, all look the same.

So yeah... she does fit my idea of perfect little sailboat. But there are many others out there that are similar. And even those tupperware boats have a (type of) beauty and functionality that exceeds my Rafiki. So I like my boat, but I'm not perpetually tied to her. Someday I will move to something else.

Any long-term maintenance issues that you think are unduly frequent or unnecessary would be helpful to know, as well as whether you've ever wished you had something else. Have you ever sailed her in a gale? If so how'd she do? How is she in light airs? Would you or have you changed anything about her to improve her performance? Do you have a windvane on her and if so what does she like?

Quite the scattershot of questions .

Maintenance: All these boats are old now, so you should be look carefully at any prospect (Rafiki or Ingrid). They will all have the standard issues all older boats have. So make sure the previous owners have kept up on things.

Specifically, Rafiki's came with screwed in teak decks. Some have been removed over the years, and others (like mine) have been refurbished and maintained. Water intrusion into the deck is a possible problem. And there is ongoing maintenance for those with decks in place.

The other possible big issue (which is common with a lot of these types of boats) are the use of iron fuel tanks. On my boat they are deep in the bilge. Over time they do deteriorate (like everything), but if maintained they can be just fine. So look closely down there.


Otherwise I can't think of anything unique to Rafiki's.

whether you've ever wished you had something else. My eyes do not wonder the pages of YachtWorld. I am very happy with my boat. The one thing I would caution is around the full keel. I guess this is where you're heading, but just realize that their positives are also their negatives. They want to keep the boat moving straight, which is great on the open water, but sucks in tight spots like modern marinas. They manoeuvre like a train, which makes close-in action very difficult at times.

Have you ever sailed her in a gale? If so how'd she do? Yes, a few times. She did great. Best boat I've sailed in heavy winds ... assuming you're properly reefed and prepared (although that goes for all boats).

How is she in light airs? She's a heavy boat, so takes more time to get going, and depending on the point of sail, won't move as fast as lighter boats. But she's not under-canvassed, so will move in light airs if you have the right sails. We carry two light-air sails (drifter and gennaker).

Would you or have you changed anything about her to improve her performance? Carry appropriate sails. Learn to change them as needed. Recognize that these boats like wind on the beam or aft, so sometimes we go further to go get somewhere faster.

Do you have a windvane on her and if so what does she like? Yes, and Aries. Works great once you get her balanced. It's our main autohelm.

Hope all this helps.
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Old 13-09-2021, 09:12   #12
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

I want to be able to wear Hawaiian shirts. Haven't been able to get away with it up to this point. But an eccentric vocabulary I can do. Just need to learn the nordic slang for "coldbeer," which as a shipmate of mine once pointed out on a 100 degree day in Avatiu, is in fact one word.

And thanks for the dose of realism, Johgurt, but I'll take my romantic dreams and sail away with them thank you. No way I'd go with a "new" boat, (even if I were made of money,) with a fin keel and cable steering, simply because she points better or has more room and a bigger head. Maybe I'm just stubborn like that; I think that's why we name boats, and name them after women; because character counts. And older boats just tend have more of that. Not to mention sexier curves. And to me tried and true is a safer bet than "new and improved," (unless of course that means a Scheel keel.) But to each his own.

Mike I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback on your Rafiki. And it is good to hear someone state the obvious about why one would or would not want a full keel. To me, since I really do plan to put some long stretches of ocean under her, that's a tradeoff I'm comfortable with. The other reason I want a full keel is so that I can beach her in a pinch if I need to, like some modern-day Slocum wannabe. I'm okay with that designation too. Do you liveaboard or have you? If so for how long?
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Old 13-09-2021, 10:04   #13
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

Quote:
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I want to be able to wear Hawaiian shirts. Haven't been able to get away with it up to this point. But an eccentric vocabulary I can do. Just need to learn the nordic slang for "coldbeer," which as a shipmate of mine once pointed out on a 100 degree day in Avatiu, is in fact one word.

And thanks for the dose of realism, Johgurt, but I'll take my romantic dreams and sail away with them thank you. No way I'd go with a "new" boat, (even if I were made of money,) with a fin keel and cable steering, simply because she points better or has more room and a bigger head. Maybe I'm just stubborn like that; I think that's why we name boats, and name them after women; because character counts. And older boats just tend have more of that. Not to mention sexier curves. And to me tried and true is a safer bet than "new and improved," (unless of course that means a Scheel keel.) But to each his own.

Mike I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback on your Rafiki. And it is good to hear someone state the obvious about why one would or would not want a full keel. To me, since I really do plan to put some long stretches of ocean under her, that's a tradeoff I'm comfortable with. The other reason I want a full keel is so that I can beach her in a pinch if I need to, like some modern-day Slocum wannabe. I'm okay with that designation too. Do you liveaboard or have you? If so for how long?


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Old 13-09-2021, 10:52   #14
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

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Mike I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback on your Rafiki. And it is good to hear someone state the obvious about why one would or would not want a full keel. To me, since I really do plan to put some long stretches of ocean under her, that's a tradeoff I'm comfortable with. The other reason I want a full keel is so that I can beach her in a pinch if I need to, like some modern-day Slocum wannabe. I'm okay with that designation too. Do you liveaboard or have you? If so for how long?
Personally, my ideal keel would be a long modified fin with a decent skeg (and skeg-hung rudder). I didn't buy this boat for the keel design, but the full keel certainly comes into its own on the open water. She hold a line far easier than other fin keel boats I've sailed. In fact, it has spoiled me such that I find it very taxing to hand-steer a fin keeler. It's just way easier to maintain a course on my boat.

Beaching... you're talking about careening. I've never tried it. Would scare the bugeezus out of me, but it is certainly possible in the right conditions. The full keel also makes using a tidal grid easier. And it's good for when you need to haul out. The keel is so full and wide that it sits easily on the ground. A few jackstands is all your need.

In normal, pre-Covid times, our pattern is to be on the boat for about 1/2 the year, and then do other stuff the other 1/2. We've always cruised in colder climates (northern Great Lakes, now Newfoundland), so year-round living on the boat is not really viable. So we're full-time for about 1/2 the year. If we ever move south, or to a place with easier winters (Canadian west coast for example), we'd be on board all year.
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Old 13-09-2021, 15:07   #15
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Re: Ingrid 38 Ketch Or Rafiki 37 Cutter: The nature of compromise

I love my Herreshoff28 wooden modified ketch. This is and will be my last boat. The modified part is that she came from the FarEast Yachts yard in Japan with a staysail. Can you modify the Ingrid? I do like sailing with just mizzen and stay when the winds freshen. I now canít imagine sailing without a mizzen. Itís the first sail I put up when I sail out of my slip and the last one I take down when I sail back into my slip.
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