My only experience of sailing movable keels has been what I call swing kneels, all larger boats have swing keels, ie a movable ballast plate. This includes, Ovni's, Feeling, Southerly, etc
As I said I have no experience of these in any bad weather, but I think were not talking about unballasted centre boats or the like aka dinghys.
I agree with your analysis. The big risk with modern flat bottom fin keels is when you combine this with a small or weak crew, ie husband and wife and small childern. These boats needs crew, in my experience, we were doing deliveries and we had 4 crew and once 7 crew in a storm, ( the worst was effectiveky 2 crew, see my anecedote in BFS) we could actively handle the boat through a typical 36 hours storm
IN your case you have to rely on the boat to heave to, but you need to be damm sure the boat can do it. The problem I have experienced is that in major survival storms, Boats simply dont remain stable and on a consistant tack. You tend to be able to Heave to in storm that in practice you could sail through. The oft repeated stuff in books " we heave to and below everything was amazingly calm and we had a cup of tea" stuff, I just dont think these were extreme conditions. The fact is that a hove to boat needs to be able to remain so for a reasonable period, and the problem we found is that (a) they sat too beam on, and (b) if we managed to get them closer to the wind, the boat was tacked through the wind was the wave action and started to sail off ( in fact with the helm lashed she would do a full crash jibe!).
I actually dont think that in survival storms that anything other then active techniques work.
PS: on the drogues, The major mistake people make is to slow the boat down too much ie to 2 knots or so. The key thing is to let her run down the waves close to hull speed. Jordan Drogues are often far too effective, especially in your case with a heavy steel boat ( I'm in the process of haveing a new steel boat built as well). Sometimes towing simple warps is enough, In your case the autopilot should manage with warps out ( I often use the autopilot can handle it to judge if the boat is settled).
Last edited by goboatingnow; 12-08-2008 at 05:52 AM.