Why a Yawl or Ketch instead of a sloop

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by saltydog123, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. saltydog123
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    saltydog123 Junior Member

    Been thinking about the next boat, and, thought I would ask the wise among you for suggestions. OK, so, here goes, these are my requirments.

    Preferably a yawl or ketch rig for those times when the auxilliary collapses and dies around the time I am pulling into a marina, and, for a balanced sail with a little less main.

    Let me know of any other reasons a split rig is the way to go!
     
  2. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Yawls (normally with headsail(s) can sail any point of the wind without the mains'l. They also are handy for correcting the helm, that is, if properly designed, a good yawl would use the mizzen (either tending towards sheeting flat or striking altogether) to balance the boat at any wind speed. This would add a little needed weather helm at low wind speeds and ease it at higher wind speeds.
    The mizzen can also help the boat come about, especially a long-keeled hull.
     
  3. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    I sat on a beach outside Loano marina in northern Italy last spring watching the yachts come out on a windy day. The usual 40´single-sticked french throwaways came out and pounded up and down as they struggled to raise their mains and heads´ls. Even my wife looked up to watch as they proceeded out, no doubt crapping themselves as they watched the beating the preceeding yachts had taken.

    Then a 50' Robert Clark yawl came out under mizzen and jib, turned through the wind and sailed off on her chosen course - all calm and orderly. A few minutes later the heads´l came out, they continued without main.

    I looked at my wife, she looked at me, then cheered as the next panic stricken crew come out on their french throwaway.
     
  4. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A typical yawl is a sloop with a slightly shorter mainsail foot, possibly a slightly short main mast and a mizzen added. A ketch is a different animal all together having a much higher percentage of sail area in it's mizzen. A yawl as darn near as close winded as a sloop of similar area, a ketch, not so much, because the mizzen is essentially useless on a close beat.

    Both rigs attempt to divide up a sizable amount of area into smaller, more easily handled pieces. Divided rigs have additional hoist options with the sheets well eased then single stickers.

    As for the description RHP offered of sloops struggling, while the yawl carried on under jib and jigger, well, any one can sail either style of rig poorly. If you don't know how to hoist in varying conditions, you should bring along some one who does. For what it's worth, it not wise to carry on under jib and jigger for very long as the mainsail offer a great deal of support to the main mast and headsails. Without it you can break stuff, if taken to excess.

    To answer your question, divided rigs split the area up into manageable pieces.
     
  5. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    Par, surely the main difference between a yawl and ketch is the position of the mizzen mast vis-a-vis the rudder stock. Being tall, I prefer the yawl as the mizzen boom is well out of the way however our friend Saltydog should not dismiss the ketch rig as usually the mizzen main is bigger than a yawl mizzen - possibly better balanced and more manageable.

    The pics below of a C&N 55 yawl and a Swan 65 ketch show the difference well.
     

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  6. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    And this is the crux... what sized boat are you talking of ? If you really want a twin masted vessel of any description it's more sensible on a vessel over 40-45 feet, the size of the mainsail being the driving factor since the head-sail area can always be divided up.

    On smaller boats there just isn't the room to step two masts efficiently without a long bowsprit and boomkin.

    Many yawls were simply balancing sails that added little to sail-power.

    Modern Ketches are efficient rigs providing the mizzen has around 20% of the total SA. A taller mizzen also allows a significant Mizzen staysail to be carried which is a big benefit of this rig. Another big advantage is the combination of sails available to balance the boat without reefing or changing sails as moderate wind fluctuates. It also is a real boon to be able to easily stack a lot of sail forward on downwind courses in a seaway.

    cheers
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  7. BeauVrolyk
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    BeauVrolyk Sailor

    There are a number of things mixed up in this question

    First, there is the question of split rig vs sloop. Second, there's question of Ketch vs Yawl. Finally, there is the question of good boat vs bad boat. Working my way backwards:

    Good boat vs bad boat: In the postings here, the problem with the throwaway French 40' sloops is that they are bad boats, not that they are sloops. The fact that they don't sail well is because the designer optimized for the total number of double berths in cabins each with their own head. There a a VERY large number of 40' sloops that have excellent sailing characteristics. It's just that they won't haul four couples, each in their own cabin with a head. For a wonderful example of a 40' sloop that is astoundingly well mannered have a look at the Cal 40. There is a 110 pound woman single handing one of these across the Pacific right now without problem.

    On the question of Ketch vs Yawl, this is partially a matter of taste, but realistically the mizzen will always be useless up wind, it's in the shadow of the main, so making it as small as possible means it will slow you down less than a ketch, where you're dragging a much bigger rig and sail in the bad air from the jib and main. I sailed a ketch from San Francisco to New Zealand and back - we NEVER went up wind with the mizzen set and found NO measurable difference is speed when we set or struck the sail. It basically didn't do anything useful other than add weather helm. If your boat is a "good boat" (see paragraph above) you shouldn't need to add or subtract weather helm with an entire mast and sail, the designer should have built a boat that's balanced without this nonsense. Given most cruising boats are around 40 something feet long, I really don't think there's any need for any mizzen at all. More on that now.

    Split rig vs sloop: without doubt you're leaving out the BEST of the split rigs, the one that is best balanced and the easiest to sail - the schooner. I used to be the skipper of an 86 foot Alden that could be easily sailed by three even through there were NO winches on the boat, not even halyard winches. She was gaff headed main and fore, a breeze to sail. But, she was big - over 100' including bowsprit and boom over the transom. Which leads me to my point.

    The choice of split rig vs sloop is (or should be) based upon the size of the sails to be handled and the strength of the crew doing the sail handling. As we all age, we can't deal with large sails, we need smaller ones. So a split rig with its smaller sails makes some sense. Having said that, I am certain that even a 70 year old could sail a 40 sloop without problem given roller furling headsails and lazy jacks on the main. I know this because I sail with one. To see a 35 or 40 foot boat with a little tiny mizzen, the size of a laser sail, is just dumb. The drag is slowing the boat down and the mainsail's decrease in size isn't enough to matter. I would strongly suggest that the smallest boat that a couple needs a split rig on is at least 50 feet and that the first split rig to consider, if you're trying to get easier sail handling, is a schooner. Basically, once you're beyond about 500 square feet in a sail that is to be handled by someone over 50 you are getting to the edge. That means that almost all 40' sloops have mainsails that one 50 year old should be able to deal with. With a 50' boat you might get a 600 square foot mainsail, which is why you might (and I do mean might) want a split rig.

    The question is not split or sloop, it's "What is the sail area of the largest sail and can I handle it?"

    My final remark is that people do use small mizzens to steady a poorly designed boat at anchor. I think you'll find a lovely design for running a dingy sail up the backstay on a sloop that serves the same purpose in Dashews books. Please don't confuse bad design, like these french barges, with the question of what rig to use.
     
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  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    BeauVrolyk, considering your experience here (or lack or it) could you please explain why you found it necessary to make such grandiose, arbitrary and blatantly incorrect bits of dribble, in you effort to describe your speculative whimsy and personal incapability at understanding the nuances of the subjects you explored?
     
  9. BeauVrolyk
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    BeauVrolyk Sailor

    PAR, or whatever your real name is (mine is Beau Vrolyk), I am astounded and amazed that you would insult someone you don't even know, rather than actually addressing what I said. If you disagree with me - perhaps you might say why rather than just being broadly insulting.

    As to my experience sailing:

    - 47 years at sea
    - 15 years driving schooners professionally
    - 105 days at sea last year, 32 so far this year, thousands of days under sail over the last four decades on every sort of sailing craft
    - longest trip in the last few years a 5 year trip around the Pacific
    - sailed everything from a banks dory to a 158' schooner
    - built everything from a pram to a 50' yawl
    - built in wood, steel, fiberglass, the only thing I passed on was cement
    - raced extensively

    As to my experience here:

    Damn little, and this is just one hell of a way to get it now isn't it? I wasn't aware that "experience" in a forum had much to do with the topic of what sort of rig someone might want in a boat. I sure as hell know that hanging around a forum posting things doesn't get you any knowledge or skill about what happens beyond the 100 fathom line.

    Now - and I really don't know why I'm bothering with a greasy slick of bilge oil like you - but I have said exactly why I hold the positions I do in the posting above and I will gladly defend 'em. I'll even expain 'em again in smaller words that are easier for you to understand, so you won't have to use your dictionary to look 'em up. Then, if you'd care to actually say something that isn't an insult and has some single piece of fact in it, I'll respond again and discuss those facts. I'll leave your diminished intellect, poor manners and your posting style out of it. Other than that, I've absolutely no use for someone who starts a conversation with an insult and fails utterly to use any facts or even address the point of the post.

    Next time, try saying something about the topic.
     
  10. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    The equilibrium of a vessel with any rig configuration is a design issue. If it is not balanced then either the sail-cut, trim, combination or the designer is to blame or often enough the designed bowsprit was removed. I wonder reading your account why sailors would venture off on an international voyage in an unbalanced boat? To then condemn the particular rig for this experience on one poorly set up vessel isn’t objective.

    The speed of a vessel is dictated by a simple balance of available driving aerodynamic force countered by total hull drag. We will always find one vessel overhauling another on some point of sail in some conditions but it’s much more complex than a simple comparison on the rig type. Also consider that if the significant sail area is spread over 2 masts the heeling moment is lower for a given sail area.

    Aerodynamically once a twin masted vessel has unequal mast heights it is more advantageous to have the shorter mast aft for a variety of reasons. To step the shorter mast forward in a classic schooner configuration is as Pierre Guttelle puts it so eloquently “ as anachronistic as the yawl and foreign to all ideas of aerodynamic efficiency ” the reality is that a vessel with a classic fore-n-aft schooner rig would always have benefited from a re-design to put the big mainsail on the fore-mast, and they would get a greater sail drive over a greater range of wind directions.

    With a ketch the larger the gap between the 2 masts the more weatherly the vessel. There are also a myriad of ketch rig combinations and the space between the main and mizzen can be arranged with a staysail and wishbone main or you can set a mule above a classic main.

    Look at the racing maxi ketches, they fly not just the mizzen but also can fly mizzen staysails on every course of sail and they are Weatherly fast and Balanced to windward. In fact most ketches carry their mizzen very effectively to windward and drop it downwind, contrary to your observation it should add considerable drive if properly designed and set. The argument about the ketch mizzen being as small as possible is quite wrong, it should be large and over 18% of the total sail area is a good minimum since the total driving force is then worthwhile relative to the penalties of the extra weight and drag.

    As for over 50 ! It’s your physical strength and weight relative to the machinery you use that determines your sail handling ability; not your age or gender. Electric winches, furlers and modern sail handling techniques have made large boats sailable by the severely physically handicapped.

    I like the sound of the Alden schooner, some photos would be nice in your gallery.

    Cheers
     
  11. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    "Good boat vs bad boat"

    "the smallest boat that a couple needs a split rig on is at least 50 feet"

    "the first split rig to consider, if you're trying to get easier sail handling, is a schooner"

    "people do use small mizzens to steady a poorly designed boat at anchor"

    Maybe I was a bit harsh, but I don't think I'm the only one that has issue with these types of statements.

    There are some boats that seem better to some folks then others, but how do you judge it. Cost, speed, pointy ability, durability, what is the bench mark that makes one boat a "good" one and the yacht in the slip next to it a "bad" one. There are good owners and sailors, but boats are more a function of what you do with it. The finest yacht in the world, built by the best of the best, designed by the most famous can be sailed like a pig, rigged by a monkey and look like a rat's nest. Does this mean it's moved to the bad boat column? Or is it the owner is just a bad one. On the other side of the coin I kicked butt in a regatta a few weeks back, in a boat that by every measure was clearly a back of the fleet example of her breed. It was a bad boat by every definition, but was sailed well enough to win across 5 races. Was this boat temporally moved to the good boat column, even with it's bagged out sails, rotten rigging, soft decks and broken hardware?

    A 50' sloop will have a hell of a time with the ICW or any near shore, coastal cruising. Bridges are just one hazard. I'm no longer able to handle anything near 500 sq. ft. of sail without modern sailing handling gear. It's a function of age, of which I'm still in denial over, but the reality is 300 sq. ft. of flogging hanked headsail, in rapidly building winds isn't something I look forward to and shouldn't be necessary. Dividing up the rig to smaller sizes is an answer. No it's not as efficient, but that's not the reason it's done.

    A schooner as the first choice for a divided rig wouldn't be something I'd push at a client. In fact, I'll try to talk them out of it. The type of rig really has little to do with how "handy" it is. How it's setup, how it's designed, how well it matches it's appendages, how good the owner's skills as a sailor, are much more decisive factors in a rig's handiness. Any rig can be setup so that it can be easily operated. I use to solo a 63' wooden ketch, with 6' of draft all through the USVI. It was an early 60's boat and didn't have roller anything. Once I'd set the boat up, I had little difficulty sailing it anywhere I wanted, often lying in a hammock, strung between the two sticks. Your Alden was likely a well designed and setup schooner, which made sailing it easy, which is the whole point I'm making.

    A boat doesn't have to be poorly designed to benefit from a steadying sail. A boat with more freeboard will march around it's mooring then others, but this is just a function of design compromises established in the design brief. It doesn't make it a bad boat, just one with more freeboard then others.

    PAR are my initials as I rather not have to type 20 some letters each time I log into a site. Maybe I was rubbed the wrong way by some of your wording in you post. Accept my apologies and lets try it again.

    Hi I'm PAR (Paul), welcome aboard . . .
     
  12. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Hi Beau Vrolyk,

    With getting into any personal jibes, I do have to take issue with several of your statements. Perhaps the problem that others have with some of your arguments is that they are not arguments but rather offered as unchallengeable fact. There is room for argument.

    My recent experience with some split rigs is with cat ketches where the mizzen is from 70 to 80 percent of the main sail area. None of these are large boats and are, in fact from 15 to 22 feet in length. As was noted by Mike, the mizzen can offer much drive on all points of sail and allow the use of an easily handled mizzen staysail that is all inboard. The unstayed rig cat ketch has so many desirable attributes that it has become my favorite rig. Being somewhat over the hill, cranking a sloop jib sheet winch becomes less and less attractive while the cat ketch tacks with only a touch of the tiller.

    Coming from a racing background, it is hard to think that a ketch can compete with a sloop but it's also difficult to see an easily identifiable disadvantage. The biggest advantage I see in a sloop is the massive spinnakers that can be set off the wind. That statement about being in the backwind of the main is true but every sail except the foresail on all rigs is in the backwind of something. C class cats have long proven that the most efficient rig is a cat with, at most, a small hankerchief of a jib.

    I will bow to your superior experience but balk at the idea that your every statement is 100% correct just because you said it. There are some pretty smart and experienced people on this forum also.

    Now, welcome aboard and let's share some information.
     
  13. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    :):):)
     

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  14. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Yeah Mike, I suppose that is Enza New Zealand. I immediately thought of Enza when I wrote about my cat ketches. For a given restricted sail area, the sloop is probably still the all-round winner in big boats.
     

  15. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Ketch without a Mainsail

    I've posted this quote in several places throughout the forum, including my website that promotes a ketch-like rig
     
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