What Is A Boat With 2 Masts Called?

We’re familiar with boats that have one mast. However, what about those with two? What is a boat with two masts called?

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We’re familiar with boats that have one mast. However, what about those with two? What is a boat with two masts called?

Most sailors have a profound fascination for dual-mast boats. The great thing about such boats is that they offer a great level of balance. From an aesthetic viewpoint, boats with two masts appear beautiful and majestic. But what are they called?

The most common names for boats with two masts are Ketch, Yawl, Brig, and Schooner. The designs of these boats are variable, but the primary idea remains the same. An extra mast in the front is called the foremast, while an extra mast in the back is called a mizzenmast.

Usually, the aft-mast is shorter than the mainmast. The aft-mast, also known as the mizzenmast, stabilizes a sailboat while serving as a bow-thruster in some conditions. In windy conditions, the mainmast can be broken down while the mizzenmast remains intact, thus resulting in a comfortable and balanced sail.

As professional sailors, we take great pride in educating our readers about the different types of boats. Here are some of the most popular dual-mast boats.

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Yawls are the most common types of dual-mast boats out there. It has a mainmast and a mizzenmast. The mizzenmast is shorter than the mainmast. It is an oblique boat with the mainmast in the front, and the mizzenmast in the rear. The mizzenmast of the Yawl enhances the balance of the helm, and it is mostly located behind the rudder.


Another essential type of two-mast boat is the Ketch. This boat is often mistaken for a yawl. Therefore, it is better to understand the differences between the two. They both have the mainmast in the front, with the smaller mizzenmast in the rear end. The primary difference between these two is mast location.

In a yawl, the mizzenmast is situated behind the rudder, while in Ketches, the mizzenmast is located in front of the rudder post.  In Ketches, the mizzenmast is just as big as the mainmast, and it carries a mainsail. The purpose of the mizzenmast is to keep the boat moving forward, especially when the conditions are aggressively windy.

On the flip side, the mizzenmast of a yawl can only enhance the helm balance. However, it cannot push the boat forward. Furthermore, the mizzenmast of the ketch is bigger than that of a yawl. It won’t be wrong to say that the mizzenmast of a Ketch is a driving sail, whereas that of a yawl is only a balancing sail.

If we compare a ketch to a sloop, the ketch enjoys a great advantage, especially when moving downward or against heavy winds. The reason behind its success is its versatile design, unlike a conventional sloop. The mizzenmast of a ketch depowers the wind in a number of different ways. It can also find the right amount of canvas for it to fly. It stabilizes the sailboat, provided it is placed in the right position.

Amongst other boats, a ketch offers a number of practical benefits, considering the different weather conditions a boat may face when on water. Apart from sailing smoothly on a beam-reach, ketches are easy to handle, which helps you learn faster if you are still a beginner.


Unlike a ketch, in a schooner, the foremast is smaller than a mizzenmast. Although you can't really spot the difference between the two masts, if you look closely, you will see the difference in their heights. The foremast will appear shorter than the mizzenmast. Unlike a schooner, a sloop has a single mast. However, the schooner is easier to sail, but it isn't as fast as a schooner. That being said, the schooner looks fabulous when under full sail.

The most common schooners out there are the ones with a square topsail. However, there are some shapes out there that run diagonally. On bigger sea routes, schooners with bigger sails aren't the most ideal boats. The reason is that a spirit rig cannot be lowered. If it is, it can become difficult to handle for some people. However, the spirit rig works perfectly in coastal conditions, provided the topsail is capable of catching a high breeze.


Just like the schooners and ketch, the Brigs also have two masts. However, the mainmast is squared, and in some cases, triangular. In some brig boats, the mainmast has a lateen mainsail. Initially, the brigs were used by pirates who pushed them forward using oars.

Therefore, the word brig has been derived from the Italian word brigantine, which means pirate. Before becoming sailboats, briggs were used by pirates in the Mediterranean back in the 16th century. Here are some kinds of brigs.


In a brigantine, the foremast is square in shape, while the mainmast is triangular.

Hermaphrodite Brig

This type of brig is also known as the half brig or the schooner brig. Both the masts on this boat are partially squared, but the primary mast is gaff-rigged. This design makes it the closest thing you can find to a schooner.

The great thing about brigs is that they are fast, maneuverable, and easy to handle. This is part of the reason why pirates used them in the 16th century. Pirates could easily hop in and leave without the fear of getting caught.

These were the most common boats with two masts. If you are a sailing enthusiast, you can opt for any one of them. However, there are a few factors you need to consider. The first two things to consider are your affordability and the reason for purchasing or renting a specific dual-mast boat.

You also need to consider your boating and sailing skills. If you lack experience and boating skills, it is in your best interest to opt for a ketch. Lastly, factor in the weather and the conditions you will be driving your boat in.

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