Re: Full or fin keel?
We could go for 51 pages.
Agree with Faster that its about compromise and priorities: rarely does a single parameter, like the keel, decide the matter.
My wife was enamored of the Island Packets we have chartered from Florida to the Caribbean for quite a while. She liked the roomy cabins in particular and the large galley and all the storage. Our own boat, by comparison, has a narrow cabin and wide side decks and a keel trunk that splits the main cabin and runs all the way to the coachroof. Our storage is probably a third that of an IP of the same length (35').
Our boat has a retractable, weighted fin keel that allows us to go from 5'11" draft down to 1'10" (with keel and rudder retracted), but normally she is sailed with everything down until we come into a shallow anchorage or negotiate a "shortcut".
What really makes the difference worth it is that we can keep the boat at our shallow water dock, yet we can sail to weather better than most. In our area in southeastern New England, weatherliness matters when you are heading west against the typically southwesterly breeze.
Well, we were beating from Cuttyhunk to Mystic (about 50 nm) several years ago when we passed a larger Island Packet that was motoring in the same direction. The IP skipper saw us, unfurled his sails, and took up the challenge. Unfortunately, he could not point as high and soon enough had to come about, unable to maintain a competitive velocity made good to Watch Hill Passage. He rolled up his sails and continued to motor. The difference was primarily the keel (full vs. my fin) and the fact that the IPs have outboard shrouds and don't allow sheeting the genoa as close. We made it on the same tack all the way to the Mystic River. My wife--who would rather sail and absolutely hates to motor--stopped bugging me about the IP accommodations after that.
That said, we continued to charter IPs in the Caribbean, where she can enjoy the bigger cabins and larger water tanks (we like our showers at the end of the day). The longest legs we've motored are about 15 miles--she can put up with that. (You really don't want to sail a full keel boat from St. John to Virgin Gorda.)