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Public domain image scanned from original source formerly illustrating this article, now orphaned, placed here in talk in case anyone in the future might find it of some use. -- Infrogmation 23:53, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I think this page needs organising better to separate out gaff and bermudan ketches, and to illustrate each. I have images of both, and am happy to sort it out.Skipperjeru (talk) 19:46, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Yawl Ketch misnomer
(Boatmik (talk) 08:37, 3 May 2008 (UTC)) The explanation given for the difference is the modern one which is generally accepted. However the historical division sheds more light on the types and words.
The definition given in the article is a legalistic one from yacht racing handicapping rules.
Relative to the rudderpost definition means you can move the mizzen two inches and it suddenly changes from a ketch to a yawl. This is hardly a rational function based reason.
Yawl L. Francis Herreshoff (1890 -1972), ()the great American yacht designer debunks this use saying that a "Yawlboat is a Ship's boat resembling a Pinnace." (I don't remember which book he talks about this in - it may have been the "L Francis Herreshoff Reader" a collection of magazine articles) So it was primarily a rowboat with auxilary sails. A rowboat needs the middle of the boat clear so the oars can be used so that forces the masts out to the ends of the boat. My thinking would indicate that they were usually steered with an oar.
A Ketch on the other hand is related to the word "catch" (maybe middle English Cacchen - to catch or antecedent). It is a fishing boat. I have seen dictionary references for this when I did the research.
Most fishing boats had transom hung rudders (steering at the back) so the mizzen mast had to go in front of the tiller - which moves it further forward than in a yawl.
Also - and this is where the article is correct having the sail more forward means it can be bigger than the yawl and have some driving power allowing the bow to be held close to the wind. The function is that when fishing you could drop or brail the mainsail and leave the mizzen out and it had enough power to keep the boat moving forward while leaving the main deck completely clear for the nets and the catch.
So a yawl is originally a rowing boat with auxilary sail that is carried on a larger boat and a ketch is originally a fishing boat.
The modern use of the words was to allow an estimation of a racing boat's performance and is intensly legal. It might come from the CCA (Cruising Club of America) or the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) rule or their predecessors.
The rules attempt to estimate the performance of a yacht and are legalistic in intent and structure. Which is why a one inch movement of the mizzen mast can change it from a ketch to a yawl and back again.
The rationale for the difference under the rules were All boats require the sails to balance each other - if you put more sail at the front - you need more sail at the back.
A "ketch" under the rule has the mizzen mast further forward so the sail can be larger and the lever arm to the pivot point of the yacht is shorter.
A yawl has the mizzen mast more near the very back of the boat so the sail can be smaller as the lever arm is longer.
As the result the ketch was a more effectively sized sail (ie bigger) and on a bigger mast which could be used to carry quite large extra sails when going downwind.
So the rule had to estimate ketches as being reasonably fast and yawls as a bit slower so had ratios to go into the handicap system.
I don't have the references any more - does anyone have access to books that shed light on some of my remembered references?
Best wishes Michael Storer 
Cut from the definition of a ketch from "The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea - Peter Kemp (p.447)"
"A sailing vessel with two masts, the recognised description being that the mizzen is stepped before the rudder head, while in a yawl it is stepped abaft.
This however is not an exact definition, the true definition between the two rigs depending on the size of the mizzen sail: if the difference depended on the position of the mizzen mast, most of the yawl-rigged beach boats, including the well-known Northolk yawls, would be ketches. The original name in England was "catch", but although this suggests that they were used primarily for fishing, there main use was in fact as small coastal trading vessels ... ... "
ketch/yawl differences.The importance of mainsail weight.
One important difference that has not been mentioned is that as an outcome of the different placement of the mizzen mast there is a distinct difference in the relative size of the mizzen sail area compared to the mainsail.In nearly all yawls the mizzen is much smaller -less than 20% of the main area whereas in a ketch it is usually greater than 30% and closer to 50%. Some ketches have the mizzen close to the mainsail size, whereas this is impossible with a yawl due to the mast placement.I cant agree with the banner saying this article is too difficult for a non expert.There are thousands of articles in wiki which a non expert would have difficulty following.I think this one has a reasonable balance. As for the "2inch" comments. That is probably correct but is the price we pay for living in a very technical world. In Nz the number of yawls is tiny and ketches are few and far between.The main reason being the expense of having 2 masts, lots extra of rigging extra sails and the up keep of this. Most keelboats in New Zealand are less than 40feet so the sails are still of a small enough size to be handled by a small family crew or a few friends. As sails get lighter due to better materials , electric winches and furling mains become more common, there is less need for the 2 mast boat(either yawl or ketch) even in the larger size say over 50 feet.Its a different matter when you get to say 80-100 feet when the 2 masted boat with their smaller sails once again becomes sensible. Not too many people have access to 20 well trained gorilla seamen to handle a 100 foot sloop main, even if it is made of fancy synthetic material.1%.
- Don't have the expertise to want to make an edit - experts please jump in - but there's no contradiction between the mizzen mast being shorter and the mizzen (sail) bigger. Or is the mizzen sail in a ketch bigger than in other similar vessels? Pol098 (talk) 13:58, 16 August 2012 (UTC)