Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Back in the late 1960's I worked as a sailing instructor in a sailing school that used Westerlys. The fleet was a mix of bilge keel and fin keel versions of the same boat. (I think they were roughly 24-26 feet but I can't recall the model although Centaur sounds right.)
There were clear differences between the bilge keel vs fin keel models, especially at either end of the wind range. The fin keeled boats sailed way better on all points of sail, but the difference was especially noticable in light air, a chop (the bilge keelers seemed to really roll more in a chop), and in heavy air, where the bilge keelers were slower, had trouble tacking through the wind and waves and so were prone to getting caught in irons and backing down and then take some scary knockdowns. We typically had to reef the bilge keeled versions before the fin keel versions.
The biggest problem that we had was freeing them when they grounded. Once planted they were really hard aground. We could always refloat the fin keelers by heeling them and backing out. That obviously did not work with the bilge keelers.
To be frank, bilge keels would be a deal killer for me in most areas of the world.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay