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fng 03-27-2005 03:31 AM

keel / draft questions
Hi all. I have some questions about depth. I live in the west and sail on Lake Mead and am currently taking lessons in California. I currently own a "beater" that I sail when i can. A 23'' centerboard sloop.

Anyway, to the point. I talked to my instructer about what to look for in a boat for coastal and short offshore trips. "Nothing less than an 8'' beam, 30 feet long, 5'' keel". Ok he''s been sailing way longer than I have. BUT, I see all kinds of boats for sale on the east coast with drafts of 3 to 4 feet and people seem to be ok with them.

What do you give up with a short keel?? Don''t go to windward as well?? Are they more tender than a boat with a deeper keel?? Do they track as well as a deeper keel?? Basically I guess I would like to know the pros and cons between the two.

Have been looking at some boats and I like a few of them that have the shorter keels. Bayfield 29 and 32. Morgan 33oi is also one i like the looks of. Use will be %95 coastal, but a lot of it. For instance Mexico. Down hill all the way there, but uphill all the way back. Also intend to go to the pacific north west to visit some friend. Seas there can be pretty robust. No real schedule, Don''t have to be anywhere for the next couple years.

So fellas. would a shorter draft be suitable for the type of sailing I intend, or would i be better off with something like a Catalina 30?? any input is much appreciated. Regards, J.D.

Silmaril 03-27-2005 07:22 AM

keel / draft questions
From an overall performance standpoint, the deeper keel is far superior to a shollow keel.

The reason there are so mane shoal draft keels on the eastern US coast is that the majority of coastal cruising areas have shallow water. Forces the issue, to some extent. The advent of the keel centerboard made up for some of the shortfall of a shallow keel when out in the open ocean.

Seeing the you are planning on sailing on the west coast, where anchorages generally have plenty of depth, I would not concern youself with shoal draft keels. And in your size range, even a deep keel won''t be much greater than 5 feet.

As far as the "Seasoned Salt" who gave you his opinion as far as size is concerned, that only scratches the surface. You can have two boats that meet his criteria, that have two COMPLETELY different sailing capabilities. Overall displacement, coupled with how the displacement is distributed, matter more than a handfull of numbers.

Look for boats with 40 - 50 percent of the displacement in a deep keel. Preferably in lead. Watch out for very heavy (12,000 lbs and up, in the 30 foot range) boats. They will either tend to have a great deal more sail to compensate, or will be slow.

Also look at the rig. Find something that has a fractional (Headstay does not go all the way to the top of the mast) rig. Smaller headsails are easier to handle, and a design that is powered by the main, means a more controllable design.

Take your time. Go to marina''s and clubs in the area you are planning on keeping the boat. ASK QUESTIONS. What works, what doesn''t. Almost every boat owner will be more than happy to tell you about his chosen craft. Also remember that some owners my be biased towards their craft. So temper their enthusiasm.

fng 03-28-2005 04:26 PM

keel / draft questions
thanks for the reply Silmaril. appreciate the info and advice. I understand there are differences in vessels of the same overall specs. the more i look the more i understand that fact very well. lol. have to admit, finding the proper boat is way more complicated then i first thought. seems the more i learn, the more confused i get.

The west coast does have more light wind than heavy. Although, up around the Channel islands and even out at Catalina, the wind can kick up pretty good. By good, i mean over 25 knots. Not sure if this is heavy where you are or not. Guess it could be called moderate, or even fun by someone whos an experienced sailer. Don''t think im ready for 25 or 30 knot winds just yet. At least not intentionally.

one more question?? what would you consider a nominal weight for a boat in the 28-32 foot range for coastal and short offshore sailing?? thats another thing that kind of confuses me. im certified for sailing in the bay, and soon for coastal. i asked my instructor about going to Catalina island on the 104 certification. Nope, thats offshore. on a clear day you can see it from the hills in malibu, and thats considered offshore?? at any rate , thats the kind of limited offshore im talking about.

Anyway, thanks again for your help. Advice noted and heeded. best regards, j.d.

PaulBl 03-29-2005 01:29 PM

keel / draft questions
In the 28 to 32 ft range there is a whole lot of differences as has been noted above. For only 4 ft of length it takes in a lot of boat variations in as many ways as possible. The price range can scare you too.

As to when coatal becomes offshore it''s more the definition of the certification than anything else. Offshore does require certain skills and knowledge you don''t have certification to yet (even if you know it). Much of it is operational systems and navigation since a cruising boat has more systems that need to be understood. There are a few more sailing skills but the basics still remain. Currently it is assumed that in any serious event you are close to shore and can come back to shore easily. You could navigate mostly visual. That would not be true half way on a on a trip to Catalina and suddenly something happens. Sailing halfway back with some serious problem might require skills than you have certified for.

As to just a boat to make Catalina in goes, the diplacemnt requirements for such a trip is not large. You won''t be carrying tons of provisions. Higher displacement carries more stuff. You don''t have a lot of requirements for say a 3 day weekend. It''s like any trip if you left for a month you need a lot more stuff. You need more displacemnt from the volume of what you''ll need. Tanks full of fuel and water will add a lot of weight.

There is no short list of boats that would do that for you. That''s the good news. The list would be quite long. The experience and skills to do it safe is the part you need most now. On a good day with some luck you probably could do it. But that would not be safe or smart.

Going out on other peoples boats is what to do. Sail lots of boats if you can. It makes your choices a lot easier when you know what they do and what they feel like. You grow to like certain things partly from understanding and partly from just things you like.

There is what you could do it in and what you feel best doing it in. They are not the same. You want a boat you feel great in that is right for you and your skill level.

fng 03-30-2005 04:35 PM

keel / draft questions
good points about the difference between offshore and coastal i hadnt thought about. absolutely correct on navigation, im not yet there, but learning more all the time. the sailing school also has courses in celestial navigation. going to take it. gps and chartplotters are very nice devices, and i have used a gps. but would like to learn where i am if all the batteries go dead. went sailing on a friends boat the other week. went about 10 miles out. its an older cal 35 in excellent condition. very comfortable old gal, and still moves pretty good. will take your advice and try to sail on as many as possible. i joined a yacht club to get a discount on sailing lessons. meeting more people all the time, lots of em willing to take me along if i yank the ropes lol. thanks for the input paul. much appreciated. best regards, j.d.

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