Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 138 Times in 111 Posts
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Here''s the deal as I see it, first off you have been sold the old myth that "full keel makes the boat far more confortable and in follow seas a little more forgiving". Sorry Dude there really is no truth to that. Its an old wive''s tale pretty much debunked in testing and in practical reality. While radical fin keels don''t do a great job of tracking on their own, moderate length fins coupled with skeg hung rudders and a properly shaped hull form are actually better in a following sea situation where. Full length keels tend to lock in on whichever direction the waves have thrown them and their relatively inefficient rudders generally do not have the ability to steer them out of the broach. Been there, done that......Boats with a cut away forefoot and a skeg rudder have a better chance of being steered out of the broach.
There are a whole range of factors that affect how well a boat steers in a following sea. Finer hulled designs with finer entries tend to track reasonably well regardless of their keel type. Blunt ended boats even when they have long keels (like the Formosa) tend to be a bear to steer in a large following seas as they will skew.
Long keels are not any more inherently stable than fin keels. Stability is a product of weight distribution, displacement distribution (both static and heeled), and the forces that come into play that try to roll the boat. Generally fin keels have more stability and generate lower rolling forces than full keels. Full keels have enormous side areas and in a broaching situation, (which is the most common case where a roll over occurs) tend to generate disproportionately high roll moments compared to fin keels.
Boats like the Formosa have extremely small ballast to weight ratios, and extremely high vertical center of gravity that comes from a combination of their high and heavby deck structures, heavy interior appointments, heavy spars, and comparatively low balalst ratios and low density ballast (typically scrap iron set in concrete on these older Taiwanese boats).
As to the wooden spars, I have owned a number of boats that have had wooden spars. In the topics these really need a lot of maintenance. In Florida, we were averaging one or two coats of varnish ever two months (the sails abrade spots on the spar so you end up vanishing spars more frequently than you do other varnish work.) The oriental spars have a pretty poor reputation. The wood used was not as rot resistant as the Sitka spruce that was typically used in the States (not that sitka spruce was all that rot resistant). And the glues were not that great either. Wooden box spars, as used on these boats, rot from the inside out and so can look perfect but be shot inside, and the glue is thought to have a 25 to 30 year practical lifespan. In other words these spars are near the end of their reliable lifespan. Its fine for coastal cruising but not something that I would ever take offshore.
As to the ''old craftmanship'', these boats were beautifully finished, but they were not what I would call an example of good craftsmanship.
In any event, the last time we discussed your plans, you were talking about doing a circumnavigation. If these were comparatively new boats, I''d say, go knock yourself out, just bring lots of spares and plan to spend a lot of time and money on maintenance. But you are discussing nearly 30 year old boats which were built in a manner that they will need major rebuilding to be able to stand up to the rigors of what you were proposing.