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post #133 of Old 03-23-2012
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Re: Full or fin keel?

Originally Posted by Oregonian View Post
It seems unfortunate though, in my opinion, that the smaller boats are getting short changed by the modern approach to sailboat design. Yes, they are producing faster and lighter boats in the 30 foot range, but not faster and safer long range cruisers in that size. The modern hull forms and their attached appendages cannot duplicate the speed and safety when ladened. Something that most marketers are not telling the buyers. There is a simple explanation why the lowly Westsail 32 is slow compared to some boats around the buoys. There is also a (slightly less) simple explanation why the same W-32 is faster than said boats when they are used for long distance voyaging. There are sailors out there who are truly looking for that smaller “go anywhere”, live aboard, cruiser. That is, under 35 feet. A Westsail 32, admittedly a 40 foot boat, is attractive partly because it is “smaller”.
I personally, would like to see the designers, producers, and marketers spend a little more time applying the modern technology to a better, safer, “go anywhere”, cruiser that doesn’t fall flat on its face in performance, comfort, and safety when fully, or over fully, ladened, or, when it hits the bottom in the lagoon at Aitutaki. It would also be appreciated if these same people told the truth about how cruising performance will be different than racing performance, even with the modern, fast, light weight boats.
Full vs. fin keel? I prefer what I have. The best that a designer can do is to design the best boat for what it is really going to be doing, at its extremes. And remember that there are people inside.
To a very great extent I agree with what you are saying about the lack of decent small offshore cruisers being designed and constructed. At some level, it is easy to understand that the average sailor, at least in the US, neither needs or wants a purpose designed and built distance cruiser, and so it sort of makes sense that most of the boats being designed and built are at best optimized as coastal cruisers or racers, and at worst, value-oriented, nearly disposable family weekenders.

But as you say, I think that it is a shame that we don't see designers developing and builders constructing purpose-built, offshore capable, distance cruisers, either of traditional designs or of a more modern design concept. There was a time in the 1970's and early 1980's when there was a genuine effort to develop wholesome, ocean capable designs, and it produced designs (like the Valiant 40, Esprit 37, Tayana 37, Pacific Seacrafts, and Westsails) which are still basically good boats for that purpose today. But in my opinion, it seems like it has been decades since there has been a serious effort to develop and build a new dedicated, purpose built, offshore capable design. ( I know that line has the Island Paket crowd are looking for a rope to hang me)

There has always been a price to be paid for a boat being purpose built for offshore use. As you know, and I agree to withstand the abuse the boat needs some combination of simple robust construction, or carefully engineered structure with large saftey factors designed in. It needs robust and reliable hardware. Lockers and tanks need to be secure during a roll over. There needs to be sturdy and convenient hand and foot holds. The rig needs to be able to quickly adapt from light air to heavy air. There needs to lagre enough tanks to support the boat for long passages and infrequent ports. The keel needs to be able to withstand a hard grounding or an impact with a semi floating object, and the rudder needs to be protected.

When you get done with all of that, you end up with a boat that is very expensive for its displacement, and even more so for its length. And since there is a limited market for boats like these, and there is a large market of older designs in servicable condition, I can understand why almost no new offshore designs have hit the market.

In an earlier discussion someone asked me to give an example of a "modern offshore cruiser' that I liked. I mentioned "Firefly' which was the prototype for the Morris 45 but noted that I think this is too large a boat for my taste and I really do not like the large portlights or oversized cockpit for offshore use. Someone objected that even for a 45 footer this is a wildly expensive boat and I agreed, but I also think that is the point, to achieve a new boat which is both rugged, and capacious, and still capable of being a good offshore boat takes careful thought and a lot of money these days.

In the case of more traditional designs, the 'lots of careful thought' came from centuries of trial and error. When you talk about more modern designs, it really requires a lot of applied skill and few clients are willing to pay the cost of time required to apply that skill, let alone pay for the finished product.

When it comes to cruising on the cheap, there are few decent choices left out there. Many of the boats which I might have recommended 10-15 years ago were rare enough even then that the few examples available have become worn out and so are no longer good candidates.

And I find it disconcerting when I see people advocating old, short waterline, short keel, attached rudder, cruiser- racers as being good offshore capable cruisers. One of the strengths of the type of boat that you advocate is that they have very long water lines relative to their lengths on deck. This helps with motion comfort and carrying capacity. Such is not the case with the CCA and IOR based cruiser-racers of the 1960's and 1970's taht I often see advocated as offshore cruisers.

Enough for this lovely spring afternoon. I am going sailing.

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