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Old 02-01-2007, 06:46 AM   #1
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Default Keel types for open ocean sailing

Thanks to all for your responses to my last posting. Chapter 2: Keel types. I know there are many opinions on keel types. Please share with me your favored keel type for open ocean sailing and suggested boat makes that carry your suggested keel. P.S. I did read the posting of Chetan's November 2, 2005 regarding full keels.
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:47 AM   #2
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Books have been written about this topic. Almost every cruising book will have a section on this some with a clear preference to a design.

The full keel is the oldest design and used to be considered mandatory for an offshore boat. The prop is protected as is the rudder from impacts and groundings. Full keels often track better in bad weather but they turn slowly under power. There are many, many full keel boats and most have a fairly traditional look to them. A well respected manufacturer is Island Packet. Full keels are often slower in light air and don't point as well as other designs.

Fin keel, skeg hung rudder. This is the next iteration of the perfect cruising hull form. The prop is semi protected as it is tucked in behind the keel and the skeg on the rudder is trusted to protect the rudder. Bob Perry is the granddad of these designs with the Valiant40/42 and Norseman447 hulls that have proven extremely good designs. They are faster, point better than a full keel, offer decent grounding/impact protection and still are seakindly enough for offshore use.

Fin keel, spade rudder. Probably the most common design today. Its fast and easy to produce. It offers little protection to the rudder from impacts and grounding. Generally they point very well, and turn quickly under power. They will broach more easily and require more attention when it gets stinky. Think Beneteau, Sabre, Catalina, etc.

There are as many iterations of each hull design as there are blades of grass. There are standout designs in each category and pigs in each category. It also depends on what you want to do, where and how you sail, etc. that determines what hull form is best for you. I ended up with what I have by accident. Its not the ideal but it works for me. Do some research and choose wisely.

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Old 02-01-2007, 11:55 AM   #3
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What about the Scheel keel, (available as an option on Pacific Seacraft/Compac 35) looks like a better design than the wing on shoal draft boats. Anybody out there have experience or opinions to share.
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Old 02-01-2007, 03:23 PM   #4
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Or you can get a catamaran and not have to worry about having a keel or lugging around 10,000 pounds of ballast. Just a joke.

Looking in the boatyard only two boats, both old woodies, have full keels. Everything else is fin or wing and a couple of racing boats with some very fancy long thin keels of some sort. Probably 15 feet of draft on those!

Never heard of the Scheel keel. Do you have information for that? What are the benfits and detractions? Cost, sailing performance, draft?
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:11 PM   #5
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Rwthomas1 summarized keel types very well and I do share his thoughs. My contribution is about full keel or sometimes called long keel because this is what I have. The boat tracks very well under sail or power. It is shallower than all other design which has come very handy in a lot of situation. Because the keel is a continuation of the stem, should the boat happen to hit a rock, it will climb on it rather than shearing off the thin keel or similar design.

The full keel is a pain in the neck in a marina or congested anchorage as the boat needs a rather large radius to turn. The boat also refuse to turn either side when reversing except for a bit of a slice to portside. I guess a bow thruster is the solution is one can afford the $ and space.

When it comes to cruising I would like to think that full keel or 3/4 with skegs are probably the best choices.
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:08 AM   #6
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Spike. Google Scheel Keel and go to venture yachts they have a excellent description and diagrams of naval architect Henry A. Scheel's US patented design. The respected designer Bob Perry has spoken favorably of the Scheel keel fitted to the Tartan 34 he designed. Tartan acknowledge that the fin keel version performs better to windward but they believe the Scheel is better off wind. (Good for cruising) The advantage of the Scheel is reduced draft, but the loss in pointing ability is unclear from my research. From looking at the design the obvious factor would be increased costs and the complicated tooling required for fabrication, this is probally the reason we have not seen these fitted on more boats. Would be interesting to have some first hand feedback?
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Old 02-02-2007, 05:38 PM   #7
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A short keel MAY mean the boat will roll more...the lever arm is shorter. The initial stability of a monohull is very low but increases as a function of the heel and the length of the ballast from the center of the pivot...not necessarily the cg but usually close. Also the increase in buoyancy from hull shape.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:45 PM   #8
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By now I assume you've googled the scheel keel. It looks a bit like that torpedo shape at the bottom of the racing boats' long keel, for the same reason - brings the ballast lower.

SV Watermelon was a fin keeler, and drew 7'2". What I liked about her, in addition to her sailing and pointing ability, was that when we ran aground it was much easier to get off. When we ran out of water the front of the flat keel hit the mud, coral, whatever, and stopped. When one is in that kind of shallow water you're not going very fast anyway. Usually only about 1 foot of the keel would be stuck in the bottom and it was very easy to just back up out of it. The transponder for our depth sounder was slightly forward of the leading edge of the keel, so if I was paying attention I often would already be in reverse when we touched bottom, even more easily getting out of the problem. Full keels ride up onto the bottom, particularly if the contour of the bottom matches the contour of the keel, and by the time the depth sounder (seems that they are often placed halfway back from the front of the keel) tells you that you're aground, you are REALLY aground with several feet of bottom clutching your keel.

You noticed, I assume, "when we ran aground". Peter is fearless and I'm pretty confident of our ability to get ourselves out of situations (there have been a few that were iffy, perhaps, but that hasn't dampened my optimism). We tended to go places that boats with shallower draft stayed out of, and we never had to call for help to get us out of trouble. We found some very interesting places!

The way I look at it. Although open ocean sailing is a very small part of cruising, it is the part that has the greatest potential for discomfort and difficulties. For that I liked the sailing capabilities of our fin keel. We got places faster though the motion of our boat was livelier and we usually reefed earlier than a heavier and/or full keel boat.

The type of keel you have isn't as important when you're coastal cruising and gunkholing, which is where the majority of time cruising is spent.

Try sailing both kinds, and make your decision based upon your own comfort level.
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Old 02-02-2007, 09:24 PM   #9
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Thank you all for the input! Lots of pluses and minuses on each keel types. As always...personal choice.
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Old 02-03-2007, 06:59 AM   #10
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If you are planning on having a sub-30' yacht, and want to cruise mainly coastally, consider also a bilge keeler. There are many advantages for inshore cruising and few disadvantages.
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lonesome boatman View Post
What about the Scheel keel, (available as an option on Pacific Seacraft/Compac 35) looks like a better design than the wing on shoal draft boats. Anybody out there have experience or opinions to share.
For anyone still following this discussion, we have a Pacific Seacraft 37 with the Scheel keel. We love it. The boat points just as high other boats around us (which come in all shapes and sizes, but include the usual smattering of very modern designs), but we don't get slammed like many of them do.

If you go to this web page and scroll down you can see several pictures of the Scheel keel:

https://pacificseacraft37.com/more-photos/
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Old 06-14-2016, 05:44 AM   #12
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I love my twin keels , which I have been cruising with for 32 years and 6 pacific crossings. True, the advantages are not as great where there is little tidal range, but in our 17 ft tidal range around here, it is a huge advantage.
She rolls far less, and has a far less snappy roll than single keelers, and tracks extremely well. Beach ability has let me do only two haul outs in 32 years, with zero moorage costs .
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:18 PM   #13
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I had a 28' Spacesailer with bilge keels at one time. Very strong, good in Darwin (tidal range up to 8 metres) and, contrary to popular belief, it still pointed reasonably high.
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Old 07-09-2016, 12:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auzzee View Post
If you are planning on having a sub-30' yacht, and want to cruise mainly coastally, consider also a bilge keeler. There are many advantages for inshore cruising and few disadvantages.
After 32 years of cruising in her, including several Pacific crossings, I love my twin keeler. Going for twin keels was one of the best decisions I made on her.
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