Join Date: Nov 2009
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Re: Full or fin keel?
One doesn't have to be a boat designer or naval architect to understand the mechanics and hydrodynamics of keels. There are lots of sailors who aren't naval architects, but have enough technical savvy to clearly understand the characteristics of different keel shapes. The keel is only one part of an assemblage of often interactive parts, so it can be presumptive to label a boat as a "full keel" or "fin keel" boat, as if that is sufficient to characterize the boat.
Take the Island Packet (IP)cutters, for example. All the ones I've sailed had a modified full keel, but their shortfall in tacking related as much to getting the genoa through the narrow slot between the inner and outer forestays when coming about. The keel/rudder combination doesn't allow you to pivot through the wind as crisply as a fin keel/ spade rudder arrangement would. This problem would be mitigated if you had a sloop rig (as some IPs are configured). The IPs probably do better in higher winds because of that cutter rig vs. a higher sloop rig--not because they are full keel boats.
That said, there is a loyal IP following, not necessarily because their customers are fond of a full keel, but because the total package fits their lifestyle. I have been going back to IPs for Caribbean charters because the IPs work for me in that venue. In southeastern New England, however, I am happy with my own boat for a variety of reasons--not just because is has a fin keel.
If folks are passionate about their boats, so what? Putting down someone else's, however is another matter.