K is for Ketch


No, not kvetch, no whining allowed on board this post. KETCH. A ketch is a sailboat type. It is a fore and aft rig (as opposed to the clipper ship square riggers) with two masts, a main and a mizzen. This has the advantage of breaking up the sail area into smaller sails that can be handled more easily. The question most often I hear asked is ‘what is the difference between a ketch and a yawl?’ It is a fair question. The comedic answer is that a ketch is a boat and ‘yawl’ is the southern contraction for ‘you all’ (chortle chortle). The real answer is that a ketch has the mizzen mast (that’s the one aft) in front of the rudder post and a yawl has the mizzen mast in the back of the rudder post. Practically speaking, that means that the main and mizzen sails on a ketch are more even in size than in a yawl.

This is a yawl:


This is a ketch:

ketch 42Ketch

See? Big difference. Generally speaking for boats of the same size the main sail on a yawl will be larger than that of a ketch. The advantage to a ketch, as I understand it, is not only the aforementioned smaller sail size (making it easier for persons of less than burly builds to handle said sails), but a great ability to balance the sail rig, which makes it easier for self-steering arrangements, which in turn makes single-handing the boat easier. Proof positive is the fairly recent achievement of an amazing young woman by the name of Laura Dekker, who is now the youngest person to ever sail around the world alone. She did it in a 37 foot ketch named ‘Guppy.’

Laura Dekker Guppy

She began her voyage when she was fourteen and completed it when she was sixteen. Granted, the young lady was born on a boat, spent the first five years of her life on board the sailing vessel of her parents and is an exceptional sailor, a sea gypsy in the tradition of Bernard Moitessier. Check out her website: http://www.lauradekker.nl/English/Home.html and her book ‘One Girl, One Dream.’

But the point is made that if properly motivated and properly trained, even a fourteen year old girl can handle a 37 foot yacht with a ketch rig and sail it around the world. Pretty amazing.

Ketch ya’ll later. (You know I had to say it.)


One thought on “K is for Ketch

  1. Catching up with these great posts after a busy week. I always got yawl and ketch mixed up, probably because I’ve never sailed either one. Love the humor! Hope you’ll continue nautical posts when A-Z is done. After a rest, of course!

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