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Old 02-01-2013
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Re: SWING KEELS GOOD or BAD?

Living and sailing around Florida, where shallow water and shifting sand banks are an issue, I think a swing keel is a wonderful thing. That's why I used to have a San Juan 23, which has essentially the same arrangement as the O'Day 25.

Find an unexpected sand bar? The swing keel just pivots up and the boat gently comes to a stop. Pull the keel up the rest of the way and back off or sail away. Easy peasy. With a centerboard it would hit the sand hard and stop suddenly, possibly even doing some damage. If you were heeled over when it hit, then the centerboard is now digging into the sand and holding the boat heeled over. If there isn't any damage, then you pull up the centerboard (with some difficulty if you were heeled when it hit) and go on your way.

Yes, the swing keel includes a pivot point and pennant arrangement that adds a bit of complication. Still, in the 8 years that I owned the San Juan, I never had even one single problem with that. I do not consider it a significant issue, and feel the benefits of a swing keel well outweigh the minor drawbacks. In fact the sailing dinghy that I own now has a swing keel, and I specifically looked for that versus the more common dagger board in boats that size.
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