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post #1 of 5 Old 11-17-2009 Thread Starter
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First Boat - Draft Advice

Hello All,

I've been reading the boards here for a bit, but this is my first post. After taking several sailing classes and chartering a boat on several occasions, my wife an I are in the market for our first sailboat. Ideally we would like a 27' boat and have seen several we are interested in. I have a question concerning the draft of the boat and the area we will sail in. We will primarily be sailing on the FL pandlehandle coast, mainly in the St. George Sound area. The average depth there at MLW is around 9 feet (I've been told), with depths in excess of twenty feel as you get out towards the islands. The applicable NOAA chart indicates numerous places where the depth is in excess of 12-15 feet.

That said, a boat we are considering has a draft of 4"10'. Would this be cutting it to close for the intended area we plan to sail? Is there a general rule of thumb concerning draft to water depth? Would this amount of draft be alright, or should we focus more on boats with wing keels? Also, the channel to where we will dock the boat has a minumun of 7 feet.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-17-2009
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Originally Posted by nolesailor View Post
Hello All,

I've been reading the boards here for a bit, but this is my first post. After taking several sailing classes and chartering a boat on several occasions, my wife an I are in the market for our first sailboat. Ideally we would like a 27' boat and have seen several we are interested in. I have a question concerning the draft of the boat and the area we will sail in. We will primarily be sailing on the FL pandlehandle coast, mainly in the St. George Sound area. The average depth there at MLW is around 9 feet (I've been told), with depths in excess of twenty feel as you get out towards the islands. The applicable NOAA chart indicates numerous places where the depth is in excess of 12-15 feet.

That said, a boat we are considering has a draft of 4"10'. Would this be cutting it to close for the intended area we plan to sail? Is there a general rule of thumb concerning draft to water depth? Would this amount of draft be alright, or should we focus more on boats with wing keels? Also, the channel to where we will dock the boat has a minumun of 7 feet.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.
Hi Nolesailor, Welcome to Sailnet!

Given the description of where you will be sailing and docking your boat, I would say that a boat with a +/- 5' draft would be fine.

However, it might depend on whether/how far up into some shallow anchorages you might like to snug her, too. For instance, if there is a lot of shoaling in the vicinity of those islands, and you'd like to anchor off them for the night, this draft could put you pretty far out. Or not -- I haven't seen the charts.

No hard and fast rule of thumb on draft. For some folks, it's controlled by the question of how much water they have at the dock. For others, it's the intended cruising grounds. As a very general rule, deeper draft should equate to better upwind performance, and smaller boats can generally get away with less draft without suffering in their sailing abilities.

It's very much a sliding scale or compromise of requirements and preferences.


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post #3 of 5 Old 11-17-2009
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Sounds to me like you'd be fine with just about anything in the 27-foot range; most boats that size aren't going to need 7 feet of water unless it's a racing boat with a deep fin. You only need the water to be deep enough to keep you off the bottom. If the boat you're looking at has a draft of 4'10", you don't really have to worry unless you're sailing in areas where the depth gets under five feet - or maybe five and a half for comfort's sake.

Since you have a channel with 7 feet of water and a sailing area with more than that, you're golden with a 4'10" draft.

Someone who's more familiar with your area may be able to offer more specific advice, but from what you've said, it sounds to me like your area in general has plenty of water for the boat you're considering.


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Last edited by SecondWindNC; 11-17-2009 at 01:22 PM.
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-19-2009 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses. I was under the impression that the 4'10" draft would not be a problem, but was looking for a second opinion. Thanks again for your replies.
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post #5 of 5 Old 11-19-2009
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Go to your local marina and ask around. The people who are actually sailing around wherever you are planning to go will know. At a minimum, they will tell you what their draft is. One thing is pretty much guaranteed - Whatever draft you pick you are going to go aground at some point.
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