We have the second “Bluebird of Thorne” she was the second 48ft bilge keel boat built by Lord Robin Riverdale who then went on to build the third “Bluebird” in association with Arthur Robb. Our Bluebird was built in 1939 and is still going strong, she is based in the UK where we can have up to a 40ft rise and fall on the tide. For about 20 years she was on a drying mooring and so took the ground without any bother twice a day. The last approx 20 years she has been afloat in a marina during the summer season, however we winterise her in a part of the harbour that dries for 10 days at a time and she doesn’t float for this period.
Regarding sailing speed and pointing, well she is a cruising boat she doesn’t point quite as close as a modern fibre glass boat, but due to the fact the keels are toed in slightly this lifts her up to windward, so she points pretty well for a 70 yr old boat (if I am doing as well at 70 I wont be complaining). Speed, well although she has a larger wetted surface she is bound to be slightly slower however we are very modestly rigged (she is ketch rigged and I am sure a modern boat of a similar size would have a larger sail area) however we carry our sails for longer and she is very happy at 7.5 – 8 Kts with the wind slightly aft of the beam in 20-23 Kts of wind.
We fitted a feathering propeller a number of years ago and this has mad a huge difference in light airs.
We have sailed many miles in the nearly 40 Years she has been in our family and we wouldn’t swap her, she has a very good sea kindly approach, when you get her heeled one of the keels is nearly vertical, offering the most resistance against leeway and helping to carry he up to windward, the other keel is nearly horizontal offering the most amount of righting capacity, we also find that this keel has a very good dampening effect in rough weather. We have had here offshore on several occasions without any problems or worries, in fact due to her shape in the bow, she hardly ever slams unlike most of my friends boats that are flat under the bow and do, I find this very tiring.
For our cruising area she is great, as she can take the ground without any worries, although I am not sure of requirement in Florida if you don’t have the tidal range.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can offer any further assistance.