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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Sloop, Cutter or Ketch
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Thread: Sloop, Cutter or Ketch Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
12-26-2008 03:47 PM
awl43 The following comments are from the perspective of a Goderich 35, a heavy displacement, cutter rigged, steel cruiser designed by Ted Brewer. The discussions around the pros and cons of the cutter rig note the difficulty of tacking the jib or genoa between the headstay and the staysail stay. This is indeed true. However, there are a few hints for the novice

Tacking a cutter is difficult only if you ignore what I believe is a fundamental rule: when going to windward, never try to tack the headsail without the staysail deployed. If you do, the headsail will want to pass between the mast and the staysail stay, hanging up on the latter, and in the process and usually necessitating sending someone forward to clear the sail with considerable effort. If the staysail is already deployed when tacking, the headsail overlap will slide forward along the windward face of the staysail and "round the corner" of the inner stay, slick as a whistle. Granted, when sailing shorthanded, it is still a busy moment handling the two sets of sheets and timing is everything. I prefer a staysail with little or no overlap and heavy enough to serve in heavy weather. When tacking, I leave the staysail sheeted but take up all of the sheet slack to windward. As the boat turns through the wind, the staysail remains backed, helping both the boat and the headsail around, and remains that way until I have re-sheeted the headsail for the other tack. I then release what is now the windward staysail sheet and set up the desired sheet tension on the leeward one. Now this process won't win you any points with the racing crowd, but in a short handed cruising situation, it gets the job done.

Of course, off the wind, or even on a very broad reach, the staysail is generally furled, as it starts to interfere with the head sail.

From a cruising perspective, I like the cutter rig as it facilitates shortening down sail as the weather picks up. While I use a roller reefing genoa in light air, I find that it seldom furls down to a well performing size for close hauled purposes. In this instance a large high cut jib like the "yankee" has the most versatility. In respect to the staysail, keep it as a fully sheeted, loose-footed headsail, rather than boomed and self tending as in many production boats. The former is much more efficient.

And last but not least, assuming you have an older style cruising hull configuration; when going to weather, don't try to pinch her up too close. Let her fall off a little, and build a little speed. Your cutter rig will perform much better, and you may be surprised at how much your gain in speed through the water will make up for a somewhat wider sailing angle.
01-11-2008 03:20 PM
CharlieCobra My Staysail has a detachable stay which I detach and coil when I know I'm not gonna need the Staysail. If the weather turns, it only takes 3 minutes to reattach and hank on the boomed Staysail. This way I have the ease of tacking the 135 or flying the chute. The only sail I need is a high clew Yankee for when I want to fly dual headsails to windward. I really like the Yawl rig due to it's versatility. Performance to windward? I run with or off from sloops with more W/L all the time so the performance is there. When the heavy stuff comes in, I can keep sailing instead of having to run for cover.
01-11-2008 02:57 PM
Schuckerman Great boat to learn on, great boat for the Bahamas and Caribbean. Sorry, couldn't resist the plug.
Scott

01-11-2008 01:06 PM
radiodude
Cutter rig, comment

We have a cutter, with furlers on both the genoa and the staysail.

Big disadvantage:
Tacking the genoa, and sucessfully getting it folded thru the slot between the stays, is tricky, sometimes it gets stuck. It helps to backwind it halfway thru the tack, then let it go, the timing is critical.

Big advantage#1: When the wind pipes up to 20 knots, we furl the genoa, use the staysail and the main with one reef. The boat sails well and the helm is balanced this way.

Big advantage#2: When the wind is above gusting above 28 knots, we use the staysail alone, the ride is ok and the helm balance ok. You won't go close hauled like this, though. Basically, it's a built-in storm jib.

Small advantage: flying both jibs looks cool but does not really increase sailing speed much, except on a reach, perhaps 1/2 knot increase, maybe less, depending on trim.

Convertible Sloop/Cutter: I modified the rig to avoid the big disadvantage; I built a sliding car, like a spinnaker car, only heavier, that takes the head of the staysail, and added another stemhead fitting near the mast. We use a quick-disconnect pin at the stemhead(s). For normal sailing, we are now a sloop, the staysail car is slid up and the the staysail furled, almost vertically, near the mast. We only deploy it in high winds. So the boat is now a convertible cutter/sloop ( "Slutter"? "Cloop"? ???). Now we are normally a sloop, and tacking is easy; but we can deploy the staysail when we want it. Converting takes only a minute. I think two boatbuilders make something like this off-the-shelf, Caliber yachts, and perhaps Shannon(?), they call it a "Scutter" rig.
It works for us.
07-27-2007 04:11 PM
Valiente Yes, on reaches, a properly trimmed staysail will increase the "pull" of the genoa/yankee by creating a bit of a slot.

From Sail Magazine:

Sailhandling
A Cutter that Cuts It

For many cruisers, a cutter rig is the one that works best—so long as the staysail is cut for windward work, fairly flat with its draft well forward. A staysail also needs a good sheet lead. Sheet tracks and leads for many staysails seem to be placed more for convenience than effectiveness and often fail to take into account the staysail’s dual role.

On most cutters, the staysail is used with a larger headsail primarily when close reaching. When sheeted inside another headsail, the staysail must be trimmed more tightly than its companion, requiring a track fairly well inboard. However, when used by itself as a heavy-weather windward sail, a staysail may require a more open sheet lead, especially as few cruising boats are capable of pointing really high. At these times it is better for the track to be farther outboard.

The problem with staysails is that most are so small they are close to storm-jib size. If the inner forestay is attached to the mast at the upper spreaders, the sail may also have a short luff, and it is the luff of the sail that powers a boat to weather. For this reason, many cruisers have adopted what some call a Solent stay, which is attached to the mast and deck only a couple of feet behind the headstay. This allows for a staysail of sufficient size to power the boat upwind and in most cases does not require the running backstays used with most other cutter rigs. The downside is that you do have to change sails if you actually need a storm jib. T.J."
07-27-2007 02:27 PM
paul77 Asked this in another thread, but since it's related to Sloop vs. Cutter vs. Ketch this might be a good place to go as well..

For a cutter rig, does the staysail add effectively working sail area upwind? i.e. if you take the staysail out, is the drive of the sails going to be affected? I'm trying to understand how to measure the SA/D of a cutter rig to have some numerical idea of upwind sailing performance. Would you include the staysail?

I know the best thing is to go sail the boat in a variety of conditions, but when buying a used boat I don't expect the sea trial to give me the whole picture, and I understand it's not really supposed to be a test drive anyways.
07-17-2007 01:59 PM
jsfreeman3 I own an 1971 Ranger 26 - and love her - but I've sailed 1000s of miles in a ketch - a Pearson 42. It does have more lines than a sloop, and the mizzen is something of a pain to flake and cover - but I like the rig.

It is much better balanced in heavy weather than a sloop. We'd usually sail with only mizzen and genoa - the genoa reefed (furling rig) when needed. We'd only raise the main in light winds.

Even in heavy winds, it was a well-balanced rig, mizzen and genioa - without the excessive healing one often gets in a sloop.
06-18-2007 11:30 AM
Boasun I noticed that no one mentioned the complicated square sails. That required a larger crew who are hail and hardy and willing to climb in the worst of weather.
Me?? I shall keep my feet on deck and use the fore & aft sails. Either a Cutter, ketch or schooner. Where there minimal mast climbing (especially in bad weather).
Hey don't get me wrong. I love the square riggers. Brig, bark or full rigged. Just that you really can't sail them safely when short handed.
06-16-2007 08:28 PM
longwaterline Jeff

Thank you for that analysis of sloop-cutter-ketch. It was the best piece I have seen on the subject and I have printed it for my files. This type of writing is what SailNet is all about

Les
06-15-2007 07:41 PM
Rickm505 If the Islands are your destination, you might consider taking a look at a catamaran or two as you continue your boat search.

Rick in Florida
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