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  #1  
Old 04-08-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

I see a lot of people discussing centerboarders which I have always been very sttracted to due to their capability to go gunkholing but still be able to drop the board down and really increase stability and windward ability. But I have no experience with these boats. I have never owned one or sailed on one.

Here are my questions
1) How are the centerboards raised and lowered? Is it hard to do? Do they all swing down on a pivot or do some slide down (like a daggerboard)?

2) Are there different designs? What is there to look out for ? What is the maintanence? Will they last the life of the boat? Are they troublesome?

3) Can I sail with the centerboard partially down if I want?

4) What are the best designed Centerboard boats out there? Which ones are the boats that are to be avoided? Why don''t we see more boats manufactured with swing centerboards?...It seems like the ideal configuration for cruisers that like "thin water" anchorages.

5) Any other comments?...Pro''s Con''s
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  #2  
Old 04-09-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

To answer your questions:

1) How are the centerboards raised and lowered? Is it hard to do? Do they all swing down on a pivot or do some slide down (like a daggerboard)?

Most centerboards either have a small winch that tensions a cable that raises the centerboard. These winches vary from trailer type cable winches (electric and manual) to normal sheet winches in which case there is often a block and tackle on the end of the centerboard penant. The centerboard cable either acts through a tube that is sealed at the bottom and or deck or through a variety of pull rod designs that pass through a packing gland. Centerboards are usually not too hard to operate but drop keels because of their weight take a fair amount of cranking to pull up and down.


Most cruising centerboard boats have pivoting centerboards (just weighted enough to cause them to be heavier than water) or Swing Keels (which pivot and are weighted significantly enought to help act as part of the boat''s ballast.)

There are daggerboard boats out there but those are mostly small boats. There is a current trend in small race boats to have a dagger board with a bulb on the end. These are very efficient sailing wise but are much more difficult to raise and lower and really cannot be partially raised lowered under sail.

2) Are there different designs? What is there to look out for ? What is the maintanence? Will they last the life of the boat? Are they troublesome?

They vary very widely in design, quality and execution from crudely cast iron swing keels, or a rough cut steel plate, to nicely fabricated lead keels, to nicely fabricated fiberglass foils, to crudely fabricated glass over plywood. In my mind, The best cruising boat set up is a keel/centerboard where these is a small shoal draft keel that the centerboard emerges from the bottom of. When fully retracted the centerboard is wholely cased in the trunk and is not exposed below the bottom of the short keel. This design gives up a little performance but offers the most protection for the centerboard and represents a good compromise in performance.

If performance is your thing than a daggerboard with a bulb is a better option. (I am thinking of building a small daysailor overnighter to putter about with and will probably do that kind of a CB.)

There is more maintenance. The centerboard penants, winches and packing glands need maintenance. The pivot bushings and penant attachment points need regular maintenance and at some point replacement. There are often flaps across the centerboard slot that need periodic replacement. Centerboard often have minor damage to their fairing materials and barrier coats as the seem to be used as a depth sounder more often and there is some wear of centerboard against the side of the trunk. Even painting the Centerboard is a little harder because the boat needs to be high enough to let the whole board down.

Whether they last the life of the boat depends on maintenance and how the original board was constructed.

3) Can I sail with the centerboard partially down if I want?

Most boats can be sailed with the board partially down. One nice thing about a centerboard is that it can be partially raised or lowered, i.e. shifted in position to balance the helm in heavy air or even raised some to allow more leeway in heavy air reducing heeling. For most keel centerboarders the best performance is with the keel down for beating and close to beam reaching, partially raised when broad reaching and all the way up on a run.

4) What are the best designed Centerboard boats out there? Which ones are the boats that are to be avoided? Why don''t we see more boats manufactured with swing centerboards?...It seems like the ideal configuration for cruisers that like "thin water" anchorages.

I don''t have time to do a good and bad list this morning but keel/centerboard boats are more expenive to build than their fixed keel sisters, expecially in sizes over about 25 feet.They require more ballast and more hardware to work well. Most people seem to be willing to accept a wing or bulb keel.

5) Any other comments?...Pro''s Con''s

Keel centerboards give up a fair amount of performance over a well designed fin keel but if well designed generally offer better performance than other forms of shoal draft keels including wing and bulbs. They are harder to build properly and harder to maintain, but offer a lot of advantages to a cruiser.

Jeff
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Old 04-09-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

I own a 28ft Soverel(1965), it has a long shoal draft keel in which a centerboard swings out.It uses a gear to crank it up and down. This is a straight shot to the centerboard trunk through a stainless tube (this mounts from cb trunk to below cockpit floor above waterline).It is not super easy or fast to raise. The cable should be checked or replaced every few years I would guess. My centerboard is lead incased in fiberglass. I know this because the cb was left all the way down at dock(it should never be that far down)and the boat sat on it at low very low tide and bent it in half, the repair was not easy! Anyway I love my boat I can steer the boat with cb adjustments, all but down wind. It is nice to singlehand I can make sail changes or go below without having to hand steer. These are the good point of this boat I have no clue about others boats.
Paul B
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Old 04-09-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

I think the keel/centerboard designed, as mentioned above, is the best CB configuration. This design is used by Hinckley, Bristol, Little Harbor, Cheoy Lee (Pedrick 41) and Alden to name just a few builders. Many K/CB boats can be sailed equally as well with the board up as down, on almost all points of sail. Downwind there is the advantage of having the boat up, upwind, having the board down can be a significant advantage.

I would say (since I just got one) that the most beautiful and well designed K/CB boat of all time is the Hood 38 built by Wauquiez. Sisterships were built by Bristol (38.8) and Little Harbor (Ted Hood''s company). She is a delight to sail, very well thought out, well built and nicely finished. I could not be happier. Thus, I will recommend to you Ted Hood''s K/CB designs.

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages, aside from the obvious ability to sail into skinny water, is the wonderful tracking ability of these boats. This is not to be taken lightly if you plan to do some distance cruising. I can take my hands off the helm for long periods of time, not even bother to lock it in, and have the boat track on any point of sail.

To me, with a K/CB, you have all the advantages of a full keel boat and a fin keel boat with none of the disadvantages of either.

Maintenance is really very minimal and does not occur on even an annual basis. Just keep inspecting the cable when the boat is pulled. As to the placement of the winch for the cable, there are several different designs. Some use lines to the cockpit, some have a winch with cable in or just out of the cockpit.

I hope this helps.
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Old 04-09-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

Regarding the stability question in the original post, as Jeff says most boards are only slightly heavier than water, and so do not significantly lower the center of gravity when in the lowered position. There is a school of thought which says that a centerboarder is more stable with the board raised in heavy weather; as Jeff mentioned this allows more leeway. In theory this reduces the chance of the boat "tripping" over her keel. I personally am a great fan of centerboarders. Partially raising a front pivoted board moves the center of lateral resistance aft, thereby reducing weather helm, and is very useful in balancing a boat.
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Old 04-10-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

Regarding the question on the weight of the CB. I believe the CB on the Hood 38 is 800 lbs. A friend with a Cheoy Lee Pedrick 41 told me his CB was also very heavy.

Hope this helps
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Old 04-19-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

I''ve had a C&C 40 for 21 years. She is now for sale and is a keel centerboard. The board weighs about 700# and is pulled with a winch and a five part tackle connected to a cable, which pulls the board.
We seldom use the board, unless we are trying to make a point and avoid two tacks. With the board down, she will really put her nose into the wind. With the board down she draws 8''6" and up 4''8", so she goes where the seven foot keels can''t. Are you interested in a boat?
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Old 04-19-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

Doublee44,

Well I''m not in the market to purchase a boat right now, but I am doing "Mental Research" on what Features/Types of boats I would be looking to get as my "next boat". If I was to get a next boat I would be looking for one to cruise extensively down to the "Islands" (carribean, Central/South America et.al.) And I am known to be a crusing type sailor that loves to gunkhole. I have a newer Catalina 36MKII with a wing keel that I love dearly. I think it is an awesome boat for extensive coastal cruising with periodic juants offshore. No boat is perfect for all situations and though it would be a fine boat for what I described above, I feel there are a few features that I would like to have that would make it even "more ideal" (everything is relative.....and so are the costs).

I am slightly enamored on a keel/centerboard design as it give the best compromise in what I like to do. I am not "super" concerned on the extra bit of maintenance needed for the centerboard, just as long as the design was a "decent" one. Thus the questions on how some are raised and lowered....(Though, I''m still not sure which is the "best" design).

So on my "next boat" I might be looking for a keel/Centerboard configuration if it was well designed and less likely to keep me hanging (Pun intended).

And I am starting to become interested in possibly a fractional rig as per some of the reasons Dave_H has mentioned (if done properly easier to depower main and smaller headsail to deal with.....yes I am listening Dave) But I am still not overlooking Masthead Rigs for their sturdiness and simplicity and if done correctly (Right sized sails, lines to cockpit, etc, etc) they can be able to be singlehanded well by a competent skipper......


I think the C&C is a nice boat. Is it listed somewhere on the net?, just for a quick look...;-)

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Old 04-19-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

Ahoy Jeff_H,

To your point of "small race boats with daggerboards with bulb attached", do you know how this type fares in a grounding?

Art

(I''m assuming a boat such as a Melges 24, Ultimate 20,etc.)
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  #10  
Old 04-20-2002
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Best Centerboard Designed Boats

Properly designed and all other things being equal a daggerboard with a bulb should do as well or better than fin keeler. The only example that I know of was a Melges 24 that took to the ground at speeds thought to be in excess of 8 knots. The description that I heard was that she hit hard and with the large chute up, spun and took a hard down which carried her over the hump. Damage was described as cosmetic.

I don''t think that is a representative fair sampling of the concept. I suspect that depending on the design of the boat and the nature of the grounding there could easily be more extensive damage to the drop keel or its scabboard.

Modern daggerboards with bulbs are next to non-existent in larger production boats but they are a concept that I would love to see more often. It is comparatively easy to design a structure that could absorb the engery of a major impact. It might include a large rubber impact block that could take buffer most of the force of impact rather than deliver the loads into a rigid structure. Longer than usual leverage into the boat perhaps with SS tubes sliding an a SS scabboard could also reduce the loads felt by the boat. I had designed a quick release lock down system that would permit the keel to be released under pressure allowing it to be retracted when aground but which would automatically engage if the boat took a knockdown, locking the keel so that it can''t retract due to gravity. If I were wealthy enough to build a custom boat (which is not likely in this lifetime) a lifting dagger board with a bulb would be high on my list.

Jeff
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