ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Tell the Difference Between Ketch and Yawl Sailboats

Updated on December 22, 2020
Photo of a ketch type sailboat.
Photo of a ketch type sailboat.
Photo of a yawl type sailboat.
Photo of a yawl type sailboat.

How Can You Tell A Ketch Type Sailboat From A Yawl?

I love sailboats of all kinds. To me they are some of man's most perfect inventions and things of great beauty. Some of my favorite kinds of sailboats are ketches and yawls. How can you tell the difference between a ketch and a yawl? This question has plagued those new to sailing for decades, but one simple rule of thumb can help solve this dilemma. In a moment I'll explain what the one simple rule is that distinguishes ketch type sailboats from yawls. First let's take a look at what makes ketches and yawls so similar.

Ketches and yawls both have a mizzen mast. A mizzen mast is typically shorter and located aft or behind the sailboat's main mast. Both ketches and yawls are known as "divided rigs". This refers to dividing the mainsail area between two separate masts. This can allow for more driving power and less strain on any one mast and can result in greater efficiency in low winds.

The Easiest Way To Tell The Difference Between A Ketch And A Yawl

The sailboat in the first photo above is a ketch. Why is that? Because the mizzen mast is located in front of the rudder post. The rudder post on a sailboat is the point where the rudder swings from side to side. It's also where the front part of the rudder attaches to the underside of a sailboat. In the first photo above you can faintly see the captain of the boat standing at the wheel, behind the mizzen mast and just in front of the boat's wheel, which located near the rudder post. On boats that are steered with a tiller, it is easy to tell where the rudder post is located, since it is usually directly below the end of the tiller handle.

The sailboat in the second photo above is a yawl. Notice how the mizzen mast is located behind where the boat is steered and aft of the cockpit. If you notice a sailboat that has the mizzen mast located far aft, behind the cockpit, chances are it is most likely a yawl.

It might help you to remember the difference between a ketch and a yawl by making up some kind of silly rhyme involving some bad grammar, such as " Hey, y'all behind the rudder post, ketch up to us at the front", or something similar.

About the author: I was fortunate enough to spend several years living aboard a 32' sloop (among a couple of other sailboats), in the Caribbean. For my article about living aboard, see How To Live On A Sailboat

One of the best references that you can read to learn more about the many kinds of sailboats, as well as seamanship in general, is a book called Chapman Piloting. This series of books was first started by Charles Chapman, naval architect, avid sailor and editor of Motor Boating magazine for over 56 years. Chapman Piloting is one of the reference sources for this Hub.

© 2011 Nolen Hart


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)