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  #11  
Old 07-20-2009
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Never had it out in any real heavy weather so I can't comment on that. In simply crappy conditions its fine and dry. Any Centaur is going to be an older boat now (mine is 37 years old) so look over it very carefully.

Practical Sailor did a review in 1999 which was favorable. One of the editors of Sail magazine lived on his, and there's at least one documented circumnavigation ('Lookfar'). I found this link this morning BLUEMOMENT • View topic - Westerly...a proper British built boat

-Horst
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  #12  
Old 07-20-2009
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Hi all

We have the second “Bluebird of Thorne” she was the second 48ft bilge keel boat built by Lord Robin Riverdale who then went on to build the third “Bluebird” in association with Arthur Robb. Our Bluebird was built in 1939 and is still going strong, she is based in the UK where we can have up to a 40ft rise and fall on the tide. For about 20 years she was on a drying mooring and so took the ground without any bother twice a day. The last approx 20 years she has been afloat in a marina during the summer season, however we winterise her in a part of the harbour that dries for 10 days at a time and she doesn’t float for this period.

Regarding sailing speed and pointing, well she is a cruising boat she doesn’t point quite as close as a modern fibre glass boat, but due to the fact the keels are toed in slightly this lifts her up to windward, so she points pretty well for a 70 yr old boat (if I am doing as well at 70 I wont be complaining). Speed, well although she has a larger wetted surface she is bound to be slightly slower however we are very modestly rigged (she is ketch rigged and I am sure a modern boat of a similar size would have a larger sail area) however we carry our sails for longer and she is very happy at 7.5 – 8 Kts with the wind slightly aft of the beam in 20-23 Kts of wind.

We fitted a feathering propeller a number of years ago and this has mad a huge difference in light airs.

We have sailed many miles in the nearly 40 Years she has been in our family and we wouldn’t swap her, she has a very good sea kindly approach, when you get her heeled one of the keels is nearly vertical, offering the most resistance against leeway and helping to carry he up to windward, the other keel is nearly horizontal offering the most amount of righting capacity, we also find that this keel has a very good dampening effect in rough weather. We have had here offshore on several occasions without any problems or worries, in fact due to her shape in the bow, she hardly ever slams unlike most of my friends boats that are flat under the bow and do, I find this very tiring.

For our cruising area she is great, as she can take the ground without any worries, although I am not sure of requirement in Florida if you don’t have the tidal range.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can offer any further assistance.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2009
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Back in the late 1960's I worked as a sailing instructor in a sailing school that used Westerlys. The fleet was a mix of bilge keel and fin keel versions of the same boat. (I think they were roughly 24-26 feet but I can't recall the model although Centaur sounds right.)

There were clear differences between the bilge keel vs fin keel models, especially at either end of the wind range. The fin keeled boats sailed way better on all points of sail, but the difference was especially noticable in light air, a chop (the bilge keelers seemed to really roll more in a chop), and in heavy air, where the bilge keelers were slower, had trouble tacking through the wind and waves and so were prone to getting caught in irons and backing down and then take some scary knockdowns. We typically had to reef the bilge keeled versions before the fin keel versions.

The biggest problem that we had was freeing them when they grounded. Once planted they were really hard aground. We could always refloat the fin keelers by heeling them and backing out. That obviously did not work with the bilge keelers.

To be frank, bilge keels would be a deal killer for me in most areas of the world.

Jeff
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  #14  
Old 07-20-2009
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Hi Jeff
I can understand you having problems “freeing them when they grounded” and I am not disputing you did, but we had the complete opposite on several different occasions whilst tacking up a couple of rivers that we know we would go from one river bank to the other and when the speed started dropping or you could feel her aground we would tack and come straight off as she rounded up and set off on the next tack, much to the annoyance to the locals who were panicking thinking we were going aground.
We draw about 7ft heeled and 5ft upright.
We sometimes visit several marinas in our local area and if we were a traditionally keeled boat we wouldn’t be allowed in due to going aground.
As regard to speed we used to cruse with another family who at the time had a brand new Oyster 435, ok she was 5 ft shorter than us but comparing an modern designed boat to one that at the time was nearly 60 Years old the oyster would point slightly better and was slightly faster but not by a huge amount. On some occasions when it was blowing hard we would be faster than them (probably due to the water line length).
I have increased the light air sailing speed by including a big cruising chute and has helped thing along a lot.
We don’t find the boat roll’s too much, in fact with a enough way on she rolls a couple of times but due to the extra keel area and wetted surface she seems to dampen the roll.
My father has just completed a trip on a modern fibre glass boat, and he said I wish I was on our boat as it was so uncomfortable due to the slamming up forward.
It’s all a compromise between economy and perfection, and everyone wants different things out of there boat…… as said before I wouldn’t of thought there would be much benefit of having a bilge keel boat in Florida, due to the lack of tidal range.
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  #15  
Old 07-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonesailin40 View Post
Looked around as you suggested mazzy and found some decent info, thanks. Not alot of info on sailing characteristics or stability. I guess the fact that the most positive things writen about them is the ability to beach them when the tide goes out answers many questions about them.
You got your answer...the purpose of a twin keel is beachability...but the resulting sailboat is slow, doesn't point well and is tender (tippy...). So wether it will work for you depends on what tradeoffs you want in your next boat....
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  #16  
Old 07-20-2009
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It's not all negatives. A boat with twin keels isn't that tender. As mallo posted, when you touch by mistake after releasing the sheets you draw less, freeing the boat to float off while when you free sheets on a single keel boat you suddenly draw more and are more likely to stay aground. There are hundreds if not thousands of twin keel sailboats in the U.K. as well as around the world. Below are two diagrams showing two points going for twin keel boats. The picture is a boat I used to own that sailed Victoria to Mexico and back and Victoria to New Zealand and back. Also google "Bluebird of Thorne" to learn more about twin keel design and theory. Bluebird was a 50 footer designed for Lord Riverdale by the esteemed Arthur Robb in the fifties and she met her design goal and was sailed across oceans extensively. I believe she is still sailing somewhere. With respect to Jeff, while not in the category of a Farr, I think they are as good or better than many old shoes touted as "ideal". The Centaur is one of the most popular boats in the U.K. in its size for that era. The Westerly I owned was built in 1967 and I am still impressed at its construction. Different strokes for different folks. How boring if all boats were the same.
Brian
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Twin Keel sailboat?-twin_keel1.jpg   Twin Keel sailboat?-twin_keel2.jpg   Twin Keel sailboat?-marimba2.jpg  
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  #17  
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Thank you all for your input. After reading what I could find, and thinking about it for a couple days I have decided she is not for me.
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  #18  
Old 07-21-2009
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Bluebird of Thorne a bit of history

Hi to all
I would like to clarify a few points also make a few points of possible interest.

Sailingfool your comments:-
Quote:
“You got your answer...the purpose of a twin keel is beachability...but the resulting sailboat is slow, doesn't point well and is tender (tippy...). So wether it will work for you depends on what tradeoffs you want in your next boat....”
I don’t agree with the “sailboat is slow, doesn’t point well and is tender”, this depends a lot on the design, as I have explained in post #14 we are not that much slower than a traditional fin keeled boat, we probably don’t point quite as well see post #12 but we certainly are not tender,not by a long way.
My uncle has a westerly bilge keel boat as mentioned above and he does admit it being a bit slower than a traditional keeled boat but not by much, I have sailed with him on several occasions but not in really bad weather…... I still prefer our boat

Mitiempo thanks for your comments you obviously have experience of sailing a bilge keel boat, how did you find it? The photo looks very similar to the “third Bluebird” what size was your bilge keeler. For the record the third Bluebird is afloat and sailing, not a million miles from you (I think) in Lopez Island (I have been in touch with the owner).

Finally
For the record there was three Bluebirds built, the first two were built by Lord Robin Riverdale, the first in the 1920’s was of wooden construction was 20ish ft long and is still afloat in a museum on the south coast of the UK.
The second one which we own is very much afloat and we sailed her a lot (when work allows) was built in 1939 and is 48ft long of steel construction, this had a slightly different keel design, the keels ran back to support the bottom rudder bearing. She also has a small centre keel where the bulk of the ballast is and why I think our boat is not tender. Also spreading some of the ballast weight out to the outer keels helps with the stability, lack of rolling and tenderness.
The final Bluebird was built in the 1960’s was 50ft long also of steel construction, again had a slightly different keel design, this one Robin Riverdale consulted Arthur Robb regarding the keel design, as above she is on the west coast of America. I don’t know a huge amount about the first and the third ones as I have only read about them and not seen them although I do have some photos of last one.
At this point I must add that a second one of the third design was built by an Australian in the 1980’s and is currently in Adelaide somewhere.
One thing I do know is she was caught out in a gale on the south eastern corner of Australia knocked down but promptly came back up with very little damage and carried on the journey. I have met the current owner of this boat and he has sailed on our Bluebird and his words were, the two boats are very similar in lots of ways, the looks, the motion and the speed. (I have to add they had just spent three weeks in the Med sailing a friend’s boat and found our boat motion much more comfortable).
Robin did tank testing for the last two boats, I am not sure for the first one before he built the boats, I also have copies of the launching of our Bluebird and a log of the maiden trip, I also met Robin on several occasions when he was alive, he was a very interesting man full of stories. I also have a signed copy of a book he wrote about his sailing life.
I have some photos but have never managed to include them in the posts, I will try again.

This was a picture of our 1939 bluebird "Inversanda"

This is a picture of her being launched including keels
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  #19  
Old 07-21-2009
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Mallo

I clearly respect your experience with the venerable and famous BlueBird. She was truely a remarkable and innovative design. But she has very little resemblance to the Westerly's in question.

I will say that it is rare to have a chance to do months of side by side testing of different keel types on otherwise identical boats. My experience was with fin vs bilge keel versions of the same boat and essentially the model in question. My experience was across a wide range of windspeeds and in multiple groundings and that is the basis of my comments.

There was a very observable differences in speed and handling between the two models in questions. Since the sails were rotated between boats for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we taught new sailors to rig the boats from bare, so that sails did not make a difference, neither did which instructor was on board. I was one of the faster sailors amoungst the group and when sailing the bilge keel boats, I could not keep up with the slowest instructors on the fin keel boats, but I could easily run off and leave them when I was on the fin keel boat. One of the other more experienced instructors and I experimented sailing side by side on quite a few occasions, and the bilge keel boats clearly made a combination of more leeway, less speed, and could not point as high. (I say combination because you improve pointing angle a little but speed disappeared and leeway increased or head off a little and get a little more speed and less leeway at the price of pointing lower. Even so the fin keel boat was better at all three.)

While a bilge keel boat does not have to be less stabile, achieving an equal stability to a fin keel comes at the price of a combination of higher drag and more weight.

With regards to the grounding issues, I have seen versions the diagrams shown above. In reality, the Westerly's do not have BlueBird's widely skewed keel angle. The keel tips are closer together and at normal sailing angles the leeward keel was not all that much further down than the windward keel. In a grounding the leeward keel leveraged the windward keel into the bottom jambing both and making rotating the boat very difficult. We used these boats to teach how to free yourself from running aground. Whatever the throry, after dealing with the grounding problems with freeing the bilge keelers (even using the Boston Whalers to help tow them off) we stopped using them to teach freeing the boat from a grounding.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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  #20  
Old 07-21-2009
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Mallo
My first was a westerly 25. The second was 35' long, a custom design with the hull and deck built by Bent Jesperson in Sidney B.C. and the interior was finished by Mike Betts. Michael McGrath was the designer. Actually designed by Michael for himself, a friend talked him into letting him build to the design. The construction was strip plank western red cedar with glass over. the keels were steel with ballast in the lower portion and tankage above. I was the second owner. The original owner sailed to Mexico and back. I sailed her locally only. The designer purchased her from me in 1995 and did an extensive refit which included adding twin rudders while keeping the central rudder for powering. He subsequently sailed to New Zealand and back from Victoria. In my experience, while a twin keel boat is probably a bit slower because of the drag issue, I don't find them tender. They are not a state of the art racer but then a great many cruisers are not either. Michael and Jane DeRidder from B.C. built a flush deck 40' twin keel boat in the 60's and sailed her extensively in the Pacific and are now in New Zealand. They post regularly on setsail.com (the Dashew's site). Here's a link to the listing for Marimba2 as she is now listed for sale. Michael redid the whole exterior but for the most part kept the same interior as I had with the exception of changing the u-shaped settee port side to a straight settee with pilot berth above and outboard. She is a very interesting boat and has more adventures ahead of her. Vela Yacht Sales (Victoria, BC)
Brian
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