Boaty question

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On the advice of the sparmaker, many years ago, we did NOT put on spreaders when we built our mizzen mast. It has two sets of cap shrouds. No backstays. (Lack of spreaders has never been a big problem, but we may add some to reduce vibration. As you can see, we are SLOW with this stuff) We set the after shrouds (probably by mistake) rather far aft. This has always caused a bit of a problem with squaring away the boom and has a bad impact on performance. As regulars on this board may know, ours is, in all other respects, a highly tuned racing machine, just waiting for the call to the Admiral's Cup team...) This year we are going to move them forward to a position about 18 inches abaft the mast - more as shown on the plans, which aren't particularly clear. We do, however, set a big mizzen staysail which has quite a pull. This is sheeted to the end of the boom and and, as the mizzen itself is sheeted from a central position I already rig a line to the end of the boom when the staysail is set in anything other than light airs. When we move the shroud position, I think we should use the old shroud plates to rig runners for the same purpose. 'Im indoors says he thinks it is unecessary. Now, I know taking sides in a marital dispute is a dangerous game, but still - I would genuinely welcome any comments, particularly from other two masted sailors.
 
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Taking my life in my hands....

I am with you on that; it is surprising what a pull a mizzen staysail can generate.
 
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Not just because we gals should back each other up...

I agree with you. Please apologise, on my befalf, to 'im indoors, but not only is it better to be safe than sorry, you already have the plates, so that's part of the expense defrayed (which ought to please him!) and, unless you really are trying to rid the boat of every last ounce of extra weight to compete in races and take the attendant risk of a dismasting, it is always very reassuring to have those runners there. Your peace of mind alone must be worth it. I usually find that an appeal to the chivalrous bit of my version of 'im indoors works quite well in these matters. Men are more reckless than women, generally. That's why they have us, isn't it? To watch their backs and temper their recklessness...wrecklessness, whatever! ;-))
 
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I have no idea Vi but can I ask a question of your ketch helpline ?

Have spent more time sailing in a ketch during the last 12 months than my own boat and am still in the play school status.

The question........ The mizzen do you have it up when on the wind or not - sometimes I think it's doing something other times not. It's driving me crazy. I know the Thames Barges only have tiddlers but it's very rare to see them flying one - even when they need to get the bum round quick.

It's over to you lot.
 
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Well, its my sail...

The sailmaker laughed like a drain. Said it was the first time he'd had the woman ordering a sail and the man hanging around muttering "we've got better things to spend our money on..." So if it tears down our mizzen mast, no doubt I shall be to blame. Better make sure it doesn't. (Secretly, he loves it, of course) But, RACING!!!??? No, nay, never! My racing days are done.
 
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I think it depends

on the general pattern and balance of the rig. But with a ketch, the mizzen should be a driving as well as a balancing sail. It is a significant part of the sail area. I have sailed in several ketches and we have always used the mizzen on the wind. However, it is not unusual for the luff to be a little backwinded and it is sometimes good to trim it a little harder than the main. Can produce weather helm if its not working with the headsail properly. It really comes into its own as a driving sail on a reach, as well as being a great help in balancing the rig. Our boat will sail herself on almost any point but a run without needing the autohelm - very restful for shorthanded sailing. Also, you can steer her from the pushpit if you want - just by trimming the mizzen sheet. Its really only on the run that I would routinely stow the mizzen, which doesn't add much to the drive from the mainsail unless it is goosewinged. However, the mizzen usually gybes first - useful warning - so that's not really an option. Which ketch are you sailing?
 
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Re: I think it depends

I found that often we did not set the mizzen before the wind, but set a big mizzen-staysail instead. It behaved better, because for reasons I wont go into, we did not have a martingale on the mizzenboom.

When reaching the large mizzenstaysl was only set below force 4. But we used to c set a mizzen staysail often as preferable to the mizzen. Incidentally our mizzen had a pair of standing backstays.

When considering runners, one should look at the compression loading in the mast. Check this with Euler's theorem. If the strain rises above 20% of the max design load, then stop. The mastmaker should know the max compression starain. Fat chance.
 
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Re: I think it depends

Thanks for your comments - very useful (also to Bill). What I like about the ketch rig is that you have more options (which if you love sailing) gives you more to play and experiment with. I also like just the jib and mizzen when things liven up and have found it very comfortable. The sails ( all hanks on jibs) are excellent quality (blue water /Jeckells).

The boat is a 46 foot ferro, heavy displacement but sails very well despite this - I would say on a par with most Thames Barges. We are located just on the other side of the river from you and you will know us when you see us !

Regards Vic
 
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Thank you Bill

I'm afraid our masts are too old now (although still sound, our surveyor says) to get any useful info. To be honest, I have never heard of Euler's theorem and do not know how to check the compression loading. Got soem reserach to do, I think....However, without the info about the max load maybe I couldn't use it anyway. The mast is much heftier than the standard scantlings though. No possibility of standing backstays, though, as the boom overhangs the stern. Maybe we need a long bumkin. However, you have given me some food for thought.

I have never been able to get our staysail to set on the run, although I would love to do so. I find that I can get pretty close by moving the tack aft and outboard, but never finally there, which is a pity, because we need all the sail we can set on that point. Have you got any tips about this?
 
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We ketches must stick together!

As a former gaffer, I do, like you, enjoy the opportunity to play with more stiks and strings. The mizzen staysail is a real sailing ship sail! I also share your appreciation of the jib and mizzen option. Very restful. I'll look out for you.
 

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