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  #1  
Old 10-16-2008
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Keel Questions for new boat

I am looking at a couple of boats, specifically a South Coast 22 with a swing keel. I am wondering if this is my best bet if I am likely to be trailering this boat. I do not however want to trade this for safety. I feel that a swing keel will provide less stability than a fixed keel. Is this always true or would I have just have to be a smart sailor and know when too much wind is enough. I am new to sailing, and will hopefully be taking a class at Annapolis Sailing School soon. Really, all I want is your feedback on the advantages and disadvantages of the swing and fixed keel.

Thanks so much

Chase
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Old 10-17-2008
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Hello,

Here are my thoughts on various keel types for trailered boats:

Swing keel:
My first boat was a Catalina 22 with a swing keel. The keel was about 500 lbs of iron. When up, the boat drew about 2' of water. When down, the draft was about 5'. The benefits are relatively easy launch and recovery from the trailer, and good sailing performance. If you run aground, you just raise the keel a little and sail off. The disadvantage is the keel pivot mechanism and the associated wear and maintenance. The Catalina uses a wire to raise and lower the keel and it can hum at certain speeds. There is a lock bolt that you are supposed to tighten when you raise or lower the keel. Many owners forget about that, and it wears out or breaks.

Wing keel:
Another way of having a shallow draft is with a wing keel. No moving parts is a benefit, but a wing keel will be more difficult to launch and retrieve. I don't know if a wing keel boat would sail as well as a swing keel boat.

Water Ballast:
Some trailerable boats use water ballast. This is combined with a shallow draft. When you launch the boat you open a valve that allows water to enter a compartment. The water is used to ballast the boat and make it stiffer. When you recover the boat you open the valve and the water drains out. I have no idea how well water ballast works.

Form Stability:
Some boats, like Marshal Catboats, use a wide beam and a shallow keel. These are suitable for trailering. The wide beam makes them stable, the shallow draft is good for thin water and trailer launch. They sail well off the wind, but not so well to weather.

That's all I have time for now. Others will jump in as well.

IMHO, I would not recommend a swing keel for a boat that is going to be left in salt water. Otherwise the swing keel is fine.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 10-17-2008
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Nice post Barry. I would only comment that in my opinion, most wing keels provide close performance to a standard deep draft keel and BETTER performance than a swing keel. Still prefer a swing keel in a trailering situation and it does allow you to bump and run rather than bump and stick!
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Old 10-17-2008
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The answer to the question is that yes in general a swing keel will not provide as much stability as a fixed keel. Although there are exceptions to every rule of course.
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Old 10-17-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingChase View Post
I am wondering if this is my best bet if I am likely to be trailering this boat. ..
Chase,

I think the swing keel probably is the best bet for trailering a boat that size. You would have a heck of a time transporting and launching a boat with a fixed keel from a trailer.

A lifting keel might be the best compromise, but there are not so very many of those around. A good weighted centerboard/swing keel design should be fine for your purposes as long as you recognize the limitations.
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