Join Date: Jul 2002
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Ketch vs. Cutter
Steve, let me just add a word of encouragement to Michael''s comments re: ketches...altho'' talking about the rig as tho'' it is separate from the boat can be a bit misleading. One of the reasons Michael praises his Allied''s rig is because the boat was designed for its rig and the rig was set up functionally. Ketch & cutter rigs can both be somewhat disfunctionally arranged and/or unsuitable for a given boat.
We''ve been sailing a Pearson 424 ketch for some years now. Its wide sheeting angle, beamy (also roomy) hull, and lesser draft already give it limited performance to windward, with the ketch rig reducing windward performance just that much more. And of course there is more rigging with which to contend; one especially notices this if the ketch rig is placed on an aft cockpit boat.
But I think people overlook several benefits that can be very meaningful. We sailed N to S, the back N and, finally, E to W thru the Caribbean, and did it all relatively easily as a couple. (We also got 1,000 NM to windward against the Trades, as there''s more to that task than simply sailing a slippery, windward witch of some kind). Ketches often have lower profile sail plans, which in conjunction with their smaller sails makes sail handling easier for a short-hand or older crew like us. Second, adding light air sails can substantially increase performance. E.g. Michael will love a mizzen staysail when he gets one (which BTW is relatively cheap, light, small and easy to handle). It''s our ''supercharger'' in lighter winds and, when used in conjunction with an asym off the wind, can totally replace the heavier weight working sails while still adding perhaps 30% to the working sail area. These two benefits in turn led us to believe that crossing an ocean wasn''t as much of a physical challenge (and therefore, a safety issue) as we''d originally believed, and so it''s fair to say our rig was not only compatible with but invited us to extend our cruising plans. And as we visited Scandinavia and dealt with the heavier winds in the North Sea and Baltic, it once again made this easier than it might otherwise have been.
The comment about a mizzen being a suitable place to mount other systems is true but may not mean much to boats sailed locally. To illustrate this, we use our mizzen, topped up a bit, as our outboard derrick when lifting the engine onto or off the dink. It also holds our radar, radar reflector, TV antenna and is the mount for our wind generator, at the mizzen masthead. All of these are better located here IMO than where they otherwise would end up living on a single-masted boat.
Good luck on playing with your rig this coming season. Experiment with it and you''ll end up discovering its advantages. Most of the criticisms of the rig you''ll hear from others are somewhat academic, as most sailors have little or no experience with the ketch rig. Let the boat teach you what you do & don''t like about it.