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  #1  
Old 11-10-2007
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Centerboard or Deep Keel? Pro's/Con's

Hello to all!

First off I'm glad to have found this forum I can't believe I've been sailing for 10 years and have never heard of it before.

Now to my question. I'm in the market for a new (used) boat. I'm trading up from an Islander 26 and looking for something in the 30-32' range. I've narrowed it down to a handful of boats a couple of which are centerboards. I've never sailed on a centerboard boat and don't know that much about them.

I'm more concerned with seaworthiness rather than getting into shallow anchorages. I will be sailing mostly in the New England area and the ICW with possibly a run down to the keys and bahamas.

This may be a dumb question but how do you raise and lower the center board? And what is it made out of? Lead I presume. Also if there is a line and winch to raise and lower it that would mean there is some kind of "hole" or access for the line to get through the hull and attach to the board yes/no? That seems problematic to me, and/or a possible way for water to enter the bilge.

Also, in the event of knock down or, god forbid, a roll over what would happen to the board? Would it come smashing back into the hull?

Also in the event of a knock down, a deep keel would seem to have more leverage to right the boat than a shallow draft keel would.

Am I off base here and/or over thinking this? (It wouldn't be the first time).

I guess what I'm asking is what are the pros and cons of a centerboard?

Thanks in advance!

Steve
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Old 11-10-2007
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I only have an Aquarius 23 but the keel is steel about 1/2" thick and weighs about 170lbs. It is raised and lowered with a small winch that is bolted to a teak board right above the centerboard housing.

Andy
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Old 11-10-2007
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Steve, it's argued both ways. Many people say they are just another thing to have problems with. Others Love them because so much sailing is done in shallow waters. Personaly Like Pearson 35 CB 3ft up 7ft down! But have a Oday 30 fin keel 5ft draft and it's really not run aground much at all except when I first got it last yr and took her into an anchorage at a place on the Chesepeake Bay called Dobbins Island.

CBs are steel, cast iron and somtimes glass with weight built in. small boats it's done with a single line, bigger boats have blocks and tackle, some have winches. the pivot is often higher then the standing water line. I've never heard of a CB slamming back into the slot in a knock down.. Interesting thought though! Don't think I'd ever be out in the kind of weather that would come anywhere near that type of situation! Come to think of it, I wonder if it would not swing back in because the sideways weight and friction would keep slamming. I know I could never raise or lower the one on my last boat a Hunter 23 unless it was in slack water.
hope this sheds some light on topic !
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Last edited by deniseO30; 11-10-2007 at 06:14 PM. Reason: oops!
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Thanks Denise,

Actually one of the boats I'm leaning towards is an O'day 30, it's the centerboard version, if it was the keel version like you have I don't think I would hesitate to buy it. I'm just unfamiliar with centerboards and little leary of things I don't know much about.

Ah, the pivot point is above the waterline, that makes sense.
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Steve, we just hauled my boat out .. i was comparing (I'm not evil really!) the oday hull and fin keel to the 5 catalina 30s in our yard. it looks allot the same.. except my rudder is massive compared to the C30s, the fin keel looks almost identical, but the C30s have a slight skeg. My hull is not as beamy and the bow has a finer entry. The C30 hull looks allot like Catboats that you see in newengland! Wide! My friend Chuck has his Oday 322 with the wing keel next to mine, it's way forward on his hull. But like 2ft shorter... pretty cool! The complaint I hear most (from non CB owners) about CBs is they "slap" when the boat is rocking port and starboard and it causes the pivot to get weak. I don't know for sure though. I never heard it slap on my little Hunter 23.
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Old 11-11-2007
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Quote:
CB slamming back into the slot in a knock down..
THis is a not uncommonc occurrence in smaller CB if the board is not locked down. I have not heard of it happening in larger boats, although it could happen. It doesn't occur until well after the boat has laid on it's side though, so if/when it happens, there's a good chance that your mast is partly submerged and suddenly the CB is not so important.

Unless the ballast in the boat is loose, and shifts when the boat broaches, the boat is most likely still going to right itself.

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The complaint I hear most (from non CB owners) about CBs is they "slap" when the boat is rocking port and starboard and it causes the pivot to get weak.
I experienced this with all of the CB boats that I owned (4). They were well-maintained boats and I tried just about everything I could think of to eliminate the problem but had no luck. My boats were smaller, but I have been on larger boats that have the same problem. It's annoying.
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Old 11-11-2007
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BTW, not all centerboards are swing keels, which are effectively weighted centerboards. The centerboard on my boat is made of marine plywood, and is buoyant, and needs to be forced down into the water, not the other way around. Of course, ballast isn't an issue for me, which is part of the reason my centerboard is wood.

Most weighted centerboards are steel or iron IIRC. Keel-centerboard design boats are quite seaworthy, and as long as the centerboard is well maintained, you shouldn't have much of a problem with it. The major problems I've seen with them are either the pivot point or the board rusting internally and expanding. The board also needs a reliable mechanism to hold it in both the down and up positions that is geared to withstand the forces on the board in a knockdown.

Whether water can enter the boat via the centerboard trunk depends on the design of the boat. The only openings in my centerboard trunk are well above the water line, so even if I opened them while in the water, it would take fairly rough conditions for any significant water to get into the boat through them.

The actual righting moment of the keel centerboard design depends on a lot more than just whether the centerboard is down or not. Often the majority of the ballast is in the stub keel that the centerboard extends from. If properly designed, it may have very similar righting characteristics to a similar boat with a deep fin keel design, but with the advantages of shoal draft capabilities.
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Old 11-11-2007
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Thanks for the info. Come to think of it I looked at a CB boat several years back and I do remember hearing the board "knock" in the slot just from the motion of walking around inside. That is definitely not something I want to listen to all night while at anchor or in the slip. Thats too bad, the boat has everthing else that I'm looking for, hmmm... decisions decisions.
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BlowinSouth: I think most of your questions have been well answered. I believe the centreboard knocking around when tied up or at anchor can be solved by raising the board. My first boat was a 22 ft. keel/centreboard and both the keel and board were cast iron with almost all of the ballast in the keel. Properly designed, the centreboard is mainly for pointing ability.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlowinSouth View Post
Thanks for the info. Come to think of it I looked at a CB boat several years back and I do remember hearing the board "knock" in the slot just from the motion of walking around inside. That is definitely not something I want to listen to all night while at anchor or in the slip. Thats too bad, the boat has everthing else that I'm looking for, hmmm... decisions decisions.
when I spend the night on my boat I just raise the keel. Sometimes all the way and sometimes maybe just halfway.

andy
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