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  #1  
Old 08-09-2011
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Question cruising rigs

Hello all.

I've been researching various boats in the 27' to 37' range for a while now and it seems that everything I read says that the cutter rig is preferable for long range cruising. It seems to me that each type of rig has its pro's and con's. The only rig that I have personal experience with is the sloop rig. I've never sailed a fractional sloop, only a masthead. I can see that tacking a cutter will be a little different since I would have to allow for the jib to come around the staysail and it looks like a very versatile rig, one that I actually like the looks of. I've also seen several boats that tickle my fancy that have a ketch rig.

This leads me to several questions. Is a ketch rig too much for a singlehander to handle in tight quarters or heavy weather given the number of sheets that must be tended? Some information I'm getting is that the mizzen may end up being a hindrance unless reaching or running with the windage it incurs. Is tacking the jib around the staysail a problem on a cutter? It seems to me that the wind would push the jib through unless one were in very light winds. I'm assuming of course since I have no experience with these rigs.

I'm hoping that someone with personal experience with each of these types of rigs could compare and contrast from a solo sailor's point of view and share their thoughts on how practical each type would be for extended offshore voyaging.

Thanks. And keep in mind that I'm still a newbie and as such I probably don't know the right questions to be asking. So, any advice on the subject, even if it's outside the bounds of my question will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-09-2011
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I sail my ketch as easily as a sloop. The mizzen behaves itself and doesn't need quick tending. I like the ability of my split rig to fit under the numerous fixed 55' bridges in my cruising areas,- Cape May Canal, Lauderdale's I-95, Ft. Myers,etc... Without other factors I'd probably choose the Cutter. With an auto pilot to take the helm while you deal with sails, all of the rigs can be single-handed. Versatility or performance,- like most choices everything is a compromise! Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 08-09-2011
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Thanks for the response CaptainForce. You mentioned versatility or performance... I'm thinking that versatility will more readily apply to me. I'm not really a very competitive person. I'm looking forward to enjoying my journey moreso than just getting there quickly. I spent 10 years in the Navy and found that I very much enjoyed just looking out over the water and relishing in the way it moved me to think. I definitley want something versatile and the cutter does sound like a great choice, but I've seen some beautiful ketches for sale in the price range I was targeting. The next boat I buy will be my escape boat. It will be full time live-aboard as well as my vehicle for cruising so I want something that I can handle by myself.

I guess the mizzen handles just like the main on a sloop? Pretty mush self tending other than minor trim adjustments? Is there much of a learning curve in adjusting to having 2 masts?
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Old 08-09-2011
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Dean,
I'd never go ketch by choice but if I found the right boat and she happened to be ketch rigged I'd not dismiss her out of hand.

To be frank I reckon we agonise about which rig is the best when for all intents and purposes it probably doesn't matter to most of us.

That said .... our new boat is effectively cutter rigged. Not a true cutter but more a double headsail sloop. Under most conditions we'd only fly a single headsail but I do like the availability of the inner for setting a small jib and/or storm jib.

One thing to remember though is to make sure the inner is removeable. If you are shorthanded and needing to tack then getting the headsail around the inner forestay is a right pain in the butt and very hard on the sail. (Furling the headsail as you come about is an option though a smomewhat tedious one.)
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Old 08-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
One thing to remember though is to make sure the inner is removeable. If you are shorthanded and needing to tack then getting the headsail around the inner forestay is a right pain in the butt and very hard on the sail. (Furling the headsail as you come about is an option though a smomewhat tedious one.)
You learn something new every day. I've been looking into setting up an inner on mine, but I did not think about this. Great advice!
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Old 08-09-2011
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Many of the cutter rigs I've seen for sale have either a furler on the jib and a boom on the staysail or roller furling on both. It does appear that the distance between the two stays varies from boat to boat. I guess the more room you have between the two, the easier it would be to tack. The idea of having a removable inner stay is a good one. is that just a matter of installing the appropriate connectors? I would ask about gybing but would you fly both a jib and a staysail when sailing downwind?

May I ask why you would stay away from the ketch if given a choice?
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Old 08-09-2011
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I'm happy with my ketch. It does everything I need. I would really like a cutter ketch but that didn't happen. The ketch gives lots of sail configurations and a lower bridge clearance. The smaller sails are definitely much easier to handle. Of course, when it comes time for new sails, there are more sails to replace. Also, a ketch has more standing and running rigging. Everything is a trade off. Me, I'm just happy sailing my boat. It gets me where I want to go (and will get me to more places in the future).
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Old 08-10-2011
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Dean,
I meant by that to mean I wouldn't choose ketch as my preferred rig. I don't honestly believe that for a cruising sailor there is all that much difference in performance twixt ketch/schooner/sloop/cutter. Lets face it, our aim in the cruising life is to reach. Uphill is a bore for long periods and dead downwind can be a bit rolly polly so anything from a close to broad reach is the goal. A ketch in fact should shine in those conditions, as would a schooner. Indeed anyone who has tried to see off an old gaffer broad reaching has been know to get something of a surprise.

For me its more of a dollar thing and I have no wish for a mizzen to get in my way. Dollars cos a ketch has got to me more expensive than a sloop to rig. More stays, more masts, more booms, more sheets, more blocks, more sails. Admittedly they can all be slightly smaller than on a comparatively sized sloop but I still think the point is valid.

So, I am less averse to a ketch than most and lets face it from a distance there is little in small boat porn to match the beauty of a ketch or a schooner under a full press of sail. If I had one, I would not be looking to change but a single stick would still be my first choice. I am at heart a simple chap. (or so my good friend the wombet is fond of telling me.)

There are a few different ways to rig a removeable inner. It really depends on how often you are likely to want to do so. We owned Raven for six years and the only time I rigged the inner was to see how it was done. OTOH, we only went coastal. While I had need to reef the main on a number of occasions, offshore we ran a number two headsail which I have never had need to shorten.

Boomed staysails have the advantage of being self tacking but the boom is a trap for the unwary. Think bruised shin unwary.

I guess that here there should be a short word re genuine cutters v double headsail sloops. A genuine cutter is designed to carry sail on both inner and outer pretty much at all times. To that end they would use a very high cut headsail on the outer (I think it was called a yankee ??) with the staysail filling in the foretriangle. This would work OK cos the high cut yankee was fairly simple to tack around the inner stay. The double headsail sloop however tends to use a full sized overlapping genoa as primary headsail with the inner carrying a storm jib or e.g a number three. Ergo the need to remover the inner if you are going to do a lot of coming about through the wind. Yes gybing is an option but not a terribly efficient one. Offshore of course you may only need to tack once in a blue moon. Going forward to ease the headsail around the stay on those rare occasions is hardly a trial. Of course you are right in suggesting that the larger the gap between the two stays the easier it will be to tack but on a sub 40' boat that gap is never going to be all that large.

Now, to attach the inner. On our new boat , the inner has a stay adjuster which allows us to loosen off the stay then it is taken back to one of the lowers and tied off with a length of dyneema. There are adjustable levers that do a similar job though they are pretty rare these days I think, or you can arrange a bracket of some kind. There was a thread here not so long ago that showed a couple of methods. On Raven the rigging screw had an extension piece of wire so that when disconnected the stay itself simple matched the attachment point of our baby stay.

Of course all of the above is pretty much generalisation but I think its probably fairly accurate. Others may have different ideas of course but I hope this is of some help.
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Last edited by tdw; 08-10-2011 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 08-10-2011
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WHile I have not sailed one, to me the easiest would be a fractional sloop. To reduce sail, be it easy or not, you start to reef the main. A MH sloop, if you start with a 150 genoa or equal, you have to downgrade both the main and jib as you go. Ketch/yawl configs, do have some advantages in that one can drop the main sail, sail with a jib and mizzen and still be balanced. Cutters are not to bad either, as the main and staysail jib are self tending/tacking for the most part. Schooners, no idea!

With that, I do know from sailing my stepdads yawl with out the mizzen up, she is REALLY lee helmed! My MH rig, with a mini forstay as mentioned, is a PITA to tack anything more than about a 130 without having someone forward to pass the HS around the mini stay. Without it, a 150 is reasonably easy to tack, almost like a fractional or MH with a smaller HS. Mine with a 110 up is really simple, but lacking in power on light days!.

I do not have an RF system, so I do not as mentioned by TD the ability to use a larger HS, roll up, tack and unroll the HS> I could see this as being handy! or having an AS for down wind use, roll up to gybe, unroll when on the other tack/gybe if you will!

TO say that there is a BEST way or rig........not sure I am willing to say that. With that, some rigs are easier than others. If going used, you are limited, If new. look at rigs like the Jeanneau SF3200, Elan 350/310, Archenbault 31,34, 35 to name a few. Yeah, a bit thin on the inside coverings. but that is a easy fix! these have been designed to sail across oceans SH/DH racing. So they are fast, easy to tack, gybe etc with one or two folks onboard. Livening up the inside coverings, pretty easy. Easier tha making a rig that is not setup to SH/DH that is nice on the inside IMHO! Some boats just plain need rail meat to stay level!

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Old 08-10-2011
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A ketch is more easier to sail than a sloop. The mizzen sail is like a third hand. Anoher advantage is to reduce sail area without too much effort.
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