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Old 23-03-2021, 04:17   #1
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Pros and Cons of Ketch?

I've seen a boat online, a 38ft Bruce Roberts Ketch. I've only ever sailed in a cutter or a sloop.

Seems to me to be more work, more to go wrong, more cost but is there an upside for offshore sailing?
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Old 23-03-2021, 04:23   #2
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

Off wind they can move -- and you can set a mizzen stay-sail if you are energetic, but in truth with modern rigs and designs a cutter is probably preferable... had a 15-ton Bermuda rigged ketch and enjoyed it because we were often short handed and it busted up the sail sizes, was like a freight train broad reaching, but so are most boats -- upwind was not its best point of sail -- however, rather than reefing the main, I often just dropped it as the wind piped up and sailed mizzen and working jib which was realively easy t handle...
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Old 23-03-2021, 04:32   #3
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

The main advantage of a ketch for me is smaller sails and more options but I am talking slightly bigger ketches
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Old 23-03-2021, 06:06   #4
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

This again? Do a search within CF and you will find several long threads on this topic.

That said, will say the ketch rig is functional especially offshore. As mentioned by Emmalina and dcstrng, the numerous options for sail configurations and the smaller sails make this easy to sail. If you are used to sailing a sloop, it does take a bit of usage to not be overwhelmed by the possible sail choices/combinations or see the goodness of the rig.

If you are mainly going to use the boat for evening sails, etc., then would suggest a sloop.

We like our ketch and fits how we sail. You may get a lot of comments from people that have never sailed a ketch or some that only use their mizzen mast to mount equipment. Take those for what they are worth.
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Old 23-03-2021, 06:10   #5
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pirate Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

Day sailing.. Sloop.
Voyaging.. Ketch.
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Old 23-03-2021, 09:26   #6
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

Why anyone wants to deal with yet another mast is beyond me. The mizzen (and its boom) is most often located in an inconvenient spot, it has rigging that is stayed to the deck that gets in the way of movement and storage, and is another cost for sails, stepping/unstepping, storage, and maintenance. The ONLY advantage I see is balance and the ability to have smaller sails to handle, but modern means of reefing pretty much makes that moot. I've covered many offshore miles with a sloop, and see no significant advantage that outweighs the downsides...
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Old 23-03-2021, 09:43   #7
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

The simplicity and efficiency of a sloop makes it attractive for me.

With a large sail plan and an easily driven hull we can sail our boat with a small jib and an easily reefable mainsail. This is simplicity itself.

Worried about sails which are too large? A small headsail on roller furling is easy to manage and a mainsail is generally manageable too. Big winches and low friction fairleads help.

I've sailed on ketches, even yawls. More lines, more complexity, less efficiency, and I see no advantage, just more work.
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Old 23-03-2021, 09:44   #8
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

Lower bridge clearance height for a given length.


Much more control over balance. You can often sail without an autopilot just by properly adjusting the missen.


Smaller sails are easier to deal with, though there are more of them. But it gives you more options. In heavy wind you can sail with full jib and missen, no main, which keeps the boat balanced. On a sloop you'd have the roller furl the jib and that ruins it's shape.


That said, I prefer a sloop and would only consider a ketch if I was looking at a 40+ft boat where a sloop rig would be too tall for the ICW bridges and a ketch would allow me to pass under them... specific to cruising area of course.
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Old 23-03-2021, 09:44   #9
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

Ketches look Beautiful, and the mizzen is a gorgeous tool to windward, and a spare mast.

I had a cutter rigged ketch (Endurance 40) and handling 4/5 smallish sails was just a walk in the park...and looked like a million buck with a bone in it's mouth!

Did I mention how beautiful a ketch is under sail...?

Sadly, I've gone plastic fantastic sloop, but I loved the ketch and may do it again.
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Old 23-03-2021, 10:11   #10
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

only pros: smaller sails - easier to handle - mizzen is a possible steering gear.
72 mē Genoa
20 mē Staysail

37 mē Main
14 mē Mizzen

gives me a lot of easy to handle variations. Even single handed.
And a Bruce Roberts is a very well built Bluewater Cruiser as long as it is well maintained.
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Old 23-03-2021, 10:38   #11
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

Our 32' 1977 Fuji ketch is a breeze to sail, excuse the pun. We're not going to win any races, but that's now why we're out on the water. No worries about heavy weather. Jib and Mizzen keep the boat moving steady in strong wind. No need to reef the main, cause it goes all the way down at the very thought of heavy weather. Super easy to single hand. Can drop the Mizzen quickly with the flick of a wrist.
Main drawback, as some note, is the inconvenience of the Mizzen mast in the cockpit. (But it also helps support a small dining table!) If you want a Bimini, you have to figure out how to make it fit under the Mizzen boom. (I'm still working on that).
But for ease, safety and style points, this is my boat.
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Old 23-03-2021, 11:10   #12
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

I gotta add something here....

I built a Roberts 38 ketch....it was home for about 11 years....I loved that boat, it sailed wonderfully, and the ketch rig is marvelously tailored for ease of sailing. Sail area is smaller and easier to handle and the split rig allows a lot of options.

All my sails were hank on, I had several jibs, spinnakers, mizzen staysail, storm sails.

Hoisting, reefing and lowering any of those sails was a cinch, easily managed by one person.

It will not be the fastest steed in town, but so what ??

Back in the day, I had this notion, that if I ever lost the main mast in storm I could re-position the mizzen. That never happened....but.....

My boat was a center cockpit, so managing the sails could be done by an 80 year old.
You also have the option of sailing under jib and mizzen only...

As others have said....there is something magic about a ketch....poetry in motion....I don't understand all the blather about a ketch.....they make wonderful sailing boats..I have since had two sloops, but they can't compare to my old ketch...

to whet your appetite, I've added a pic of my old R38.....go for it...
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Old 23-03-2021, 11:25   #13
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

I have owned a 36 foot ketch for over 20 years - great boat.
Personally if I was buying an old boat the question of whether it was sloop, cutter or ketch rig would be a very very long way down my list of things to look out for....
A VERY long way.
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Old 23-03-2021, 11:29   #14
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Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

My previous boat was a ketch. My current boat is a cutter. I like both, and each has its advantages.

Ketch pros:
  • Extremely flexible and functional sail plan. Easy to balance and easy to reduce sail by going to 'jib & jigger' arragement.
  • Smaller sails, so easier to manage.
  • Redundancy should one mast fail.
  • Shorter mast(s)
Cons:
  • More complex standing rig; more stays, shrouds, chainplates.
  • More running rigging.
  • Not a high pointer (at least not mine).
  • More clutter on deck (related to more standing rigging).
  • Perhaps more cost for sails, although that is debatable since each sail is smaller.
I wouldn't hesitate to get another ketch. Great cruising boat rig. But I also love my cutter for some of the same reasons.
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Old 23-03-2021, 11:34   #15
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pirate Re: Pros and Cons of Ketch?

My dream boat... but would switch to aluminum masts..
Mind I'd settle for a nice 36 if pushed..
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