Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Wilmington, DE
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I don’t see a problem sailing offshore with centerboard boats, assuming the boat was originally designed for offshore passage making. If you decide to purchase a centerboard boat, I would recommend that you thoroughly inspect the centerboard pin and centerboard line before heading on a long trip. The pin is, I believe, usually bronze and may be in good shape, even on an old boat. I recently lived aboard a 1985 fiberglass boat with my family; before heading out, I inspected the centerboard pin and found it to be in excellent condition. If the pin shears while under way, repairs would be difficult at best and the potential for damage great.
I also replaced the centerboard line. In this case, the steel cable had begun to show wear. Again, I compared the cost of potential damage underway and the safety issues associated with a broken line while sailing, possibly while trying to claw off a lee shore, to the ease and cost-effectiveness of replacing the line while I did all of the other restoration to my boat. It was an easy decision.
Centerboards make a lot of noise in heavy seas. While sailing hard on the wind, a fully deployed board can make a lot of difference. Depending on sail configuration and conditions, I saw as much as a 20 degree difference. It’s worth it to have them down, but the first time I sailed with one, I thought the trunk was going to come apart. Every time we slammed into a wave the board slammed into the trunk with a loud bang.
Cleaning the board is easy when the boat is in the slings and the board is down. If you’re trying to avoid cost, and you don’t see the boat being hauled on a regular basis, it will obviously be more difficult to clean the board and the inside of the trunk. You may find, however, that cleaning the hull and keel are easier. I don’t know specifically about the Tartan 27 or other boats that you mentioned, but many centerboard boats have flat keel bottoms and can sit in a vertical position when the tide goes out. I would use offsetting anchors to brace the boat.
In addition to the obvious advantage of the shallow draft that centerboards offer, they also allow another means to help balance the boat when sailing. I don’t think in terms of up and down, but rather, in terms of how much up or down. I experimented when sailing and often found that I sailed with the board deployed only partially. I think you will find the same.
Hope this helps and good luck.