Cruiser/Lats and Atts TV
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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RustyF - You don't really need to worry about draft out here. Even if you contain your sailing/cruising to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, a 6 foot draft is not going to preclude you from most places that a 4 foot draft can go. That's not to say you don't need to be more careful with a deeper draft. Going aground around here will usually result in a very loud crunching sound, or so I imagine what fiberglass scraping and breaking on solid, jagged rock would sound like... (something I NEVER want to hear!)
Anyway, my 16,000 lb. 33 footer with 5,400 lbs of ballast has a modified full keel that is only 4' 7". In 5 crossings of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I was glad she wasn't any shorter, and would have preferred around 5 feet. But she performs quite nicely (considering she ain't no racer), and I went everywhere I wanted to. However, the shorter draft wasn't an issue when I bought her, and I don't think it will be for anyone else who may own her in the future.
You are right in assuming that there aren't a whole lot of shoal draft boats out here on the west coast because they aren't as beneficial as they are on the east coast, with the Chesapeake, etc. We have no ICW, either, so any coastal cruising is really that: off the coast and out in the Pacific. And that's where you would want deeper draft.
But then there are really smart people like JeffH on this forum who can better explain the trade-offs between draft, hull and keel shape, wetted surface, choice of rig, etc. Because in the end, out here anyway, it's not just one thing like draft you need to consider. I guess I'm just saying it's not a huge issue that you need to worry about.
Good luck on your quest for a boat! Keep us posted. And where exactly are you located or will be doing your sailing?
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"Always approach the dock at the speed you wish to hit it."
1978 North Sea 33 Pilothouse Cutter (Ta Chiao)