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post #42 of Old 08-22-2006
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Originally Posted by sailingdog
Captnero— I was speaking specifically, and only about stability and righting moment, and not the sailing performance of the boat. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was speaking of sailing performance. Sailing performance of a boat is affected by much more than the shape of the keel, though the shape of the keel is an important factor to consider. I don't see any real advantages in a wing keel, when it comes to providing stability, over a bulb keel. However, the wing keels have serious disadvantages IMHO and experience, over bulb keels—so there is no reason to have one as far as I am concerned.
Selecting a keel type for a sailboat without considering windward lift is like picking sunglasses without considering UV rays.

SailingDog and Jeff_H - My concern is what SailingDog intended by not discussing windward lift while discussing shortened keel design. Without quoting Jotun's intial post of this thread (Keel type?), suffice to say that it defintely was not restricted to only stability and grounding effects of keels. Hence I interjected the relevance of windward lift as bulb configurations were discussed. If the relevance of windward lift is acknowledged then at least we're on the same page again. Of course sailing performance has other factors, but since the thread was about keel types I only wrote about sailing performance related to keel design.

I will relate two recent experiences I've had related to grounding near the South River and near the Choptank River. I hope that is sufficiently close to what one would consider to be Jotun's "Northern Chesapeake". About a year ago I saw someone with a shoal draft bulb keel quickly and hopelessly grounded in a deep heel. It took the professional tow boat an hour to pull it free. Then just this spring our engine quit due to a cracked filter screw while we were exiting a tight anchorage into the wind. We raised sail but were not able to get enough room so I resorted to Plan B and grounded our wing keel on a muddy shoal. Then as soon as we luffed and dropped sail, the wing leveled shallower and we just floated free. For those needing closure, we were then able to kedge into a better sailing position and sail out of the anchorage into the wind. If we had a bulb or fin of the same depth, we would have had to kedge off of that shoal first or perhaps I wouldn't have risked putting a heeled non-wing keel on a shoal at all.

If you go back to Australia II's successful use of a wing in 1983, it was a rule beater for racing vessels constrained by draft and was the first competitive America's cup challenger in many, many years and of course the first winner. From a performance standpoint the wing certainly was not a liability when compared to Liberty's equal draft non-wing. When Dennis Conner's team recaptured the Cup in 1987, Stars and Stripes was sporting a wing to beat the same rule and the defender. In the case of cruisers constrained by draft such as Jotun's Northern Chesapeake, the wing keel is a draft beater. Under sail it mostly behaves like a somewhat deeper keel with windward effects beyond a bulb, yet allows one into shallower anchorages.

Wing keels sprouted on production boats in the late 80's in high numbers. As a practical matter, if Jotun is considering 30 foot vessels of those heyday years, then eliminating wing keels from the mix will likely eliminate many otherwise acceptable vessels. In my own experience, such elimination is not necessary.

The real hazard for a wing is to motor quickly onto a shoal with a slight incline, while the fin or bulb is most vulnerable when deeply heeled. The width of the wing simply does not allow it to climb up a steeper incline, although you stop quickly. I've also found that when the wing is level it gives a little more warning when an uneven bottom is coming up, since it's width is more likely to touch the higher bumps than a fin or a bulb.

I was puzzled to hear that a professional tow boat in one of the posts would attempt to heel a wing off of a shoal. Also, two hours is a long time to be yanking on the boat's structure. I know that some tow boats carry flotation bags. That would seem to be a better strategy for a difficult grounding, but obviously I don't operate a tow boat. There is an issue about the use of lift bags triggering salvage rights. If that is the case it is unethical. That's part of why I now have my own lift bags.

Regardless of the keel, in most cases if one can simply wait for high tide, towing will not be necessary. I once heard of a well known Chesapeake cruiser who runs aground frequently when exploring and gets out a book until high tide. The tow boats are for when you are unfortunate enough to ground at high tide or you just can't wait that long.

Last edited by captnnero; 08-22-2006 at 03:00 AM.
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