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Old 06-10-2010, 10:43 PM   #1
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Everyone, I am reaching out to everyone who has knowledge or experience with a cutter rigged ketch. I am the very proud owner of a Vagabond 47 wich is rigged as a cutter ketch and is located in So. Florida. I have sailed her many times and really have no problem sailing her except I have tried a lot of different combos and adjustments with the sails and I guess I really don't understand how to use these sails and trim to maximize the performance or motion of this rig? when do I use the mizzen? when do I use the Genoa? what's the setup for running,reaching, etc. I know this is not a performance boat but I do want to understand how she works and how to get the most of what she can give when needed or wanted. All input is greatly desired.




Vagabond 47 MKII
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Old 06-11-2010, 02:07 AM   #2
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Waterdog, this is an interesting question you have set !

To start with all we know is that a 47ft Vagabond ketch has a LOA of 47ft - sail plan divided to allow easy handling in very strong winds.

From the sail plan the height of the Main Mast is around 48 ft off the deck - so the luff is probably only around 43ft

We know that the LWL is 36ft giving a theoretical hull speed of 8 kts - it has a full keel + 20 tons displacement (fine for cruising - but which does not allow for acrobatics)

Sailed one from Hong Kong to the Philippines - if the wind was less that 10 kts with all sails up and a boat full of payload - time to think of motor sailing. Once the wind piped up to say 15 kts - then with all sails up (engine off) 7 kts. Over 20kts drop the mizzen and furl the stay-sail 7kts - with stay-sail another 1/2 knot.


I guess depending on the amount of cruising baggage added to the boat and depending on the sails (material, weight, age condition etc) If the wind is good for sailing, then additional tweeking of the sails on this design of cruising boat doesn't make much difference.


Lets see who else can add more authoritative words on how best to sail a 47 ft Vagabond Ketch.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:37 AM   #3
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Richard, I know nothing about sailing a ketch--never having sailed one, but I would like to ask you if trimming the sails is the same as it is for our schooner: with four lowers(jib, staysail, foresail, and main), though the staysail really determins how high we'll be able to point, we typically start by setting the mainsail, then foresail so it doesn't backwind the main, then the staysail so it doesn't backwind the foresail, then the jib so it doesn't backwind the staysail. When balancing sails, we always start with the main since it is so much bigger than the other three lowers. So, on a ketch, you've got a mizzen back there behind everything. But, it is so much smaller than our schooner's mainsail which is aft--therefore, do you start everything off by trimming the mainsail on a ketch? then work forward and do the mizzen last?

Other question--why ever take down the staysail? Seems that the slot between staysail and jib is pretty much always a good thing--no???

Thanks for opening this topic, Waterdog, and thanks for sharing your experiences, Riohard.
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 06-11-2010, 09:08 AM   #4
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Hi Brenda,

From memory, main up first, then the foresail -- settle her down on best course for wind, then stay-sail. If the wind increased up with the mizzen.

However, the owner (Lou Herron) told me that when he rigged a new main, as the old was baggy, the boat sailed well without the mizzen or the stay-sail. When cutter rigged she pointed maybe 5 points better -- which over a long tack that's a lot of ground.

The mizzen was useful on a mooring when sheeted tight and central.


My Tayana and my second Nantucket Island were both cutter rigged on stays with pelicans - they certainly sailed closer to the wind, when both head sails were up.


My own feeling about a ketch rig is that amount of sail that is lost by having a shorter main boom is not made up by the amount of sail in the mizzen. So the powerhouse is diminished before you start.

The inclusion of an electric S/T winch on the mast, when the size of the main becomes a handful, should be a consideration.
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Old 06-11-2010, 03:10 PM   #5
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Posts: 85

I've had my Vagabond 47 for just over 5 years now but it certainly doesn't make me an expert. So here it goes: to start with I am extremely happy with the boat, it is a 1990 and thus benefited from the top of the learning curve. My ST60 reads only up to 60 knots but when I see the 60.0 knots I still feel confident that nothing will break, with the odd exception of getting surprised by a squall with full genoa and main up....

When it comes to getting the best out of her, I agree with Richard, under 10 knots of wind I found diesel quite cheap. She comes alive with anything above 12 knots, Net displacement is 18 tons, I'm guessing my gross is 22, with 1200 liters of diesel and 1000 liters of water, add the genset, a vast amount of tools and spare parts, 22 sounds about right. Vagabond 47 are often pictured with Yankee, staysail, Main and mizzen up, it does look pretty. One Vagabond 47 owner in Phuket reckon she sails better with a Yankee than a Genoa, he had it for a while so I respect his opinion. My Yankee blew up the first time I sailed her and I never bothered replacing it, instead I chose to use the 140% (or so) Genoa which was more suitable for close to equator sailing.

She is definitely not designed for upwind sailing, no argument about it.If I get any closer than 40 deg off the apparent wind, the speed drops drastically. The best point of sail are between 60 and 120 deg but that is common to most boat. As far as the mizzen is concerned, a friend of mine joked that is was very useful to hang your radar on and whatever antennae you might wish for. He was quite correct as far as upwind sailing is concerned, when it comes to downwind I find it very useful as it add noticeable speed, say 1 knot with 20 knot wind. Ketch rigs are definitely not as efficient as sloop but I do appreciate the split sail area in particular when sailing solo, there are no huge amount of canvass to handle especially when sleep has not been at a premium for a while.

Another thing is running dead downwind is not a good option as the intermediate back shroud are too far back to let the boom perpendicular to the wind and cause some heavy chafing, hence a broad reach works better.

I'll be happy to add more to specific questions, but as a parting shot, allow me to state that I would not change my Vagabond 47 for any other boat, I would rather sail slowly in comfort and safety than trying to beat records.

Fair Winds,
S/Y Charisma
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