A ketch is a two-masted sailing vessel where the forward mast is taller than the mast towards the stern. It is differentiated from a yawl, which also has two such masts, by the fact that its mizzen mast (the one at the back) is in front of the rudder whereas the mizzen mast on a yawl is behind the rudder.
Some think the name Ketch may be a derivation of a Mi’kmaq word (an Indian tribe from Nova Scotia in Canada) for a good place to make a ‘catch’ of fish. Many fishing boats were ketches in times gone by and there is a fishing town in Canada called Ketch Harbour.
Another possible explanation of the origin of the word is that it is a small coasting vessel, made round at stem and stern like the Dutch boats. The word is apparently still used in some English counties to denote a tub.
Another version is that the word ketch was derived from the Italian word ‘caicchio’ which means a barrel and was modified into English as a ketch.