Ketch vs. Sloop for 1st Boat - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 16 Old 12-25-2006 Thread Starter
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Ketch vs. Sloop for 1st Boat

Hi,

I've lurked for a while, but this is my first post...

I learned to sail last summer and am considering a boat for this coming season. I'm up in the Buffalo, NY area and learned to sail on Lake Erie. I'm curious about opinions from the masses on if it's wise to consider a ketch as a first boat as opposed to a sloop. I have seen a couple of Cheoy Lee's that I really find appealing, but are they in more difficult to handle for a beginning to moderate level sailor? I have sailed a 30' Catalina, which was also a nice boat. Is an old standby like a Catalina or Hunter a better match for a first-time boat owner? Thanks for any advice you can offer. BTW, the Cheoy Lee would be in the 33' range.

chappy
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post #2 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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Chappy... Welcome! I wouldn't let the rig influence your choice of boat too much. Get the one that appeals to you and fits your cruising plans. On a ketch of course, you have a few more lines and another sail to hoist... but it is essentially self tending so is not much trouble underway. On the plus side, you're dealing with a smaller mainsail which makes that easier, your main mast is shorter so it gets under more bridges and you can adjust your sail plan to the weather...going under mizzen and staysail in heavier weather.
The ketch will not perform as close to the wind as the SAME boat in a sloop version.
The cheoy lee specifically is a 30+ year old heavy boat with a full keel and lots of wood (including spars in many cases) to take care of. It is a beautiful boat that will turn heads if kept in bristol condition and keeping her in Bristol shape will take a lot of time. be very carful on the survey given all the wood and the age of these boats.She will be relatively slow but stable and seaworthy. You sound like you already know about Benehuntelinas! Good luck with the decision making.
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post #3 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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Speaking strictly of rigs, a ketch is no more challenging than a sloop, except that there is another (mizzen) sheet to tend.

The sail area is divided among three working sails, hence they will be smaller.

The fact that the rig is split between two masts gives some added sail reduction and trim options, especially if you wish to balance the helm.
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post #4 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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Go with the sloop!

The learing curve on a sloop is faster than on a ketch. A ketch for the most part is not an easy boat to set/shape/trim easily as is a sloop. Maintenace and the cost of new sail is more on a ketch. A sloop is better for upwind sailing; a ketch better for downwind ... but on the Great Lakes you have to do both; and since upwind take more 'finesse' - go with the sloop.
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post #5 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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If you only plan to day sail, and to eventually move up to a larger/nicer boat, I'd go with the "old standby" type boat first. Especially if you can find one reasonably equipped at a price you like. As Cam pointed out, a boat like the Cheoy Lee will require a lot of maintainence to keep looking nice, and that's time you could be out sailing....and learning. Not just about sailing, but also what you want in a boat. What works for you, and what doesn't. Then when it's time to move on, you'll have a better idea of what to look for.

Regards,

John
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post #6 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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To some extent, the answer to this question depends on your own personal goals. We each decide how skilled a sailor that we want to become. Some simply want to learn just enough get in and out of the slip and make simple passages, while others of us feel that it is important to highly develop sail trim and boat handling skills. Most fall somewhere in between; there is no one right or one wrong answer to this.

Having taught a large number of people to sail in my life on all kinds of boats, I can tell you that it is much easier to learn to sail on a responsive, comparatively small (under 30 feet) and comparatively lightweight, fin keel spade rudder sloop. Boats like these 'talk' more directly to the novice sailor helping them feel what is happening when they make steering or sail adjustments.

When you talk about a a poorer sailing boat like the Cheoy Lee Luders designed ketches, it is much harder to develop sailing skills because there is very little feel, very little indication when you are doing the right thing of the wrong. In moderate winds this does not matter all that much, but when sailing at the lighter end or heavier end of wind range the inability to properly adjust the sails make a huge difference.

The Great Lakes are notorious for light air punctuated by extremely heavy conditions. Sailing a ketch in these changeable conditions can be very frustrating to a novice who is slower to make the right adjustment on the fly.

Small ketches for all of their charm are not an expecially good choice for a novice sailor, especially in your sailing venue. Because of the interaction of the windward sails on leeward ones, ketches are much harder to trim well. Most experienced sailors can make sail adjustments that are roughly right. The loss in speed, comfort, and ease of handling are not all that significant if you don't mind going a little slower and motoring a bit more. But getting the sails trimmed right, and keeping the boat moving can be an exercise in frustration for a novice.

Jeff
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post #7 of 16 Old 12-26-2006 Thread Starter
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Great thoughtful advice from all...thank you very much. It sounds like even though I love the look and style of the ketch, I'm much better off hunting for a 28 - 30 foot sloop given where I am both in sailing experience and location.
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post #8 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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A nice, responsive boat for learning is a C&C 27 or 30. They are relatively light displacement, simple, low maintenance vessels that seem to be quite numerous in the Great Lakes. They are also attractively priced, for the most part. Of the two, the 27 is reputed to be a better sailing performer and has an active group of owners:
http://www.cc27association.com/
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post #9 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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Another nice boat would be a Pearson 28-2.

John
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post #10 of 16 Old 12-26-2006
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sloop

Hello,

For a first boat, a sloop, especially a Catalina 30, is a much better choice than a ketch. First off, as previously written, it's easier to learn to trim two sails than three. Secondly, it's much cheaper to maintain 1 mast (with all the rigging) and two sails, than 2 masts, 3 (or more) sails, etc.

Finally, if you do buy a boat, it will probably NOT be your last. It will be much easier to sell a common boat like a Catalina 30, than an older ketch.

There are many many good boats out there to choose from. Some common production boat in the 28-32' range include boats from Catalina, C&C, O'Day, Newport, S2, Tartan, S2, and a bunch more.

Good luck,
Barry

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