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halsmithjr 01-28-2001 02:55 PM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
We are planning to buy a new Catalina or Catalina Morgan cruiser in the 42-50'' range. We have the option of outfitting it with either a deep draft or winged keel. We plan to do coastal cruising between North Carolina and Key West, FL as well as some island hopping in the Caribean. Besides the draft difference, are there other advantages or disadvantages to either keel

MikeMoss 01-28-2001 05:25 PM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
Don''t buy a new boat. Unless you have money and time to burn.

My friend is in Key West now living aboard and he draws 5''3". He goes to the Bahamas etc with no problem.

But I really don''t favor wing keels.

What do these boats draw that you are looking at?

Key West is really nice. Good luck.

JohnDrake 01-30-2001 04:44 AM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
Given the boats you are considering, I think you know a great deal about what you want and have the experience to back that up.

I am not sure there is any appreciable difference, in normal cruising, between the wing or the fin keel. The wing keel, as I am sure you know, was developed to improve the pointing ability of an America''s Cup boat when heeled significantly.

Let me hasten to add that while I have sailed boats with wings and without, I am no expert. I have sailed where you are going and think the shallower draft of a wing is an advantage. Since there is no mud in your cruising area, getting the wing wedged in upon grounding is not a concern.

One concern, do be careful of grounding the rudder, as it may be deeper (not sure but) than the keel. In any event, the rudder can be vulnerable. But no big deal.

All the best. Please sell me your boat in 4 yrs :O)

nola 01-30-2001 02:19 PM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
I rode out Hurricane Marilyn in Sep ''95 in a Catalina Morgan 50 by snuggling up in the mangroves in Saint John, USVI. That boat had a wing keel and after the storm we were plenty relieved to find the keel undamaged and free of the bottom while the stern touched hard against the shore. In that case at least, the difference in draw meant something. As for sailing performance, it seemed about the same.

halsmithjr 01-31-2001 12:53 PM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
Thanks Mike, John, and nola for your replys.
As to our new boat Mike, we have had 3 used ones and this is our chance to step up and buy what we want how we want it equipped. The ones we''re considering vary in draft between 4''10 and 5''6 with the wing keel and 5''10 and 7'' with the deep draft keel.

And sorry John, but this is the boat we plan to retire on, so you may have to see our heirs to buy it when we''re buried at sea.
But you may have to fight our kids and grandkids for it. You make a good point about the rudder extending below the keel and will keep that in mind.

And nola, I would appreciate any other comments you may have about your 50'' Morgan as to how it has held up and any problems you may have had with it.

Thanks again to all you.

nola 01-31-2001 01:13 PM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
The boat I had was just a 3-week delivery to take the boat home after 3 years of Moorings charter, so I can''t say much other than it sure held up well in the storm and enjoyed heavy air much more than light air.

I''ll refrain from offering advice regarding buying new vs late model used (such as off charter)... I''ve just never come across anyone with the bank account to buy a new one. Go Man Go...good luck.

dazeoff 02-06-2001 01:38 PM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
Unless you have loadsamoney - buy depreciated boats, e.g. My boat would cost today $250,000 (a 38'' Aluminium Burmudan Cutter with $60,000 worth of ''stuff'' on board) and I paid less than $100,000. Its 1985 refurbed in 1997 and has been brilliant for 22 months live-aboard and 300 miles (most of the time single-handed).
If you intend to go to Bahamas DON''T buy anything with a deep keel or anything that will/may need repairing in the Bahamas (repairing in Florida is no problem) repairing in Bahamas - NO!!! A lift keel seems to be an excellent compromise (mine draws 3.5'' or 6'') OK it''s also BW but you need SO MUCH time and TROUBLE on a boat B4 you take your life and those of potential rescuers into deep waters. I could tells you tales for hours. I''m still alive and the boat survived ''Floyd'' but now I''m MUCH MORE respectful of the sea - even pottering up and down the Bahamas. Mike

Denr 02-07-2001 10:05 AM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
I strongly suggest taking the equlavent amount of money you would spend on a new Catalina and purchase a higher quality used boat, I''m absolutley sure you''ll be more satisfied. Having sailed on and worked on newer Catalina''s I can tell you that they have poor quality hardware and they cut many, many corners in the manufacturing process. These boats are crude in design and cheaply made. To the novice sailor they appear to have all the most modern features and conveniences however if you look deeper you will see poor access to mechanical systems, rough and unfinished areas all over the boat, cheap hareware everywhere and poor design feaures. The wing keel boats sail poorly in a short chop and are actually harder to unstick when going aground in skinny water. Buyer beware, but don''t take my word for it talk to other experienced sailors.

PS: A friend of mine purchased a new Catalina winged keel boat however he recently found out the hard way that they installed a rudder for a fin keel on his boat, to make a long story (or rudder) short he destroyed the rudder when he went aground in shallow water because the rudder was longer that the depth of the keel, Catalina did not want to hear about assuming responsibility for this mistake! Buyer beware.

JohnDrake 02-07-2001 10:29 AM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
I can appreciate the point about new Catalina''s but have to say I frankly very surprised. Let me preface this by saying I am not a C dealer or employee. As I am lookign at larger Catalina''s, I would appreciate differing opinions.

I have owned a C 30 in the past and found it quite sea worthy. I have recently been able to go through a 1989 Catalina 36 very very thoroughly over the course of several hours and found it to be well built. The hull is solid glass (which I personally prefer, others may not), hull to deck joint very well built: shoebox construction screwed and glued, chainplates bolted to major structural members, cabin joinery tabbed to the cabin overhead, no voids or cracks, VERY easy access to all systems including the fuel tank and holding tank, easy to see if there was any rust on the fuel tank (none) and that it was well above the bilge, easy access to all sea cocks and .. they were sea cocks. Running rigging was fine for the size of the boat (in any case easy to upgrade). Cleats properly backed etc etc. Good fit and finish.

I just don''t see it. And I do not consider myself an amateur. I have been sailing for over 30 yrs haved owned several boats both sail and power, am getting a capt lic and a master diver cert, and have spent a few months aboard big pointy gray ships with guns on them (a great way to cruise).

I have not seen a new Catalina, but I think that are many popular boats out there that are much more expensive and not built as well. Good to have divergent opinions though.

Denr 02-08-2001 06:10 AM

Best Keel for Coastal and Blue Water Cruising
John Drake
Most if not all production as well as custom boats today have the bulkhead tabbing you noted so this is not something unusual but rather something that is a requirement for basic structual integrety. I stand by my comment about accessability, for example, try to get at (inside the boat) the stanchion base at the widest part of the boat or the base of the pushpit or pullpit, poorly thought out. After you''ve tried to get to the stanchion base nuts try to get a wrench on the stuffing box nut to adjust it..yes its a different size I know. Catalina uses fibreglass floor pans as a way to save money. This does make building the furniture and cabinetry easier and less expensive to produce. All of the new Catalinas I''ve seen have areas where the bonding of the floor pan has separated from the hull resulting in squeeky and springy floors. A far better way (yes more expensive)to build this is to bond and laminate stringers to the hull and build up the interior furniture and cabinetry on the stringers which ties the entire boat to the hull resulting in a much stiffer construction. The floor pans also make running water hoses and wires through the hull after the boat has been built much more difficult. Did I mention the delamination of the bow sprit only after three years (6 months/year) of use. Catalina uses cheap Marelon seacocks that fail early on, when the handles twist off. Yes it is not the valve itself that has failed only the way by which it is operated. Unless you had a steel boat why would you trust your life on a plastic thru hull when you could buy a bronze one that will last the lifetime of the boat! Its is true these require periodic maintainence. Catalinas are popular..yes, primarily for their price and voluminous interiors, certainly not for their quality or design prowess. Catalinas'' are popular boats but Bill Clinton was a popular president, I suppose it all boils down to the meaning of popular!

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