How important is shoal-draft for cruising? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 01-24-2011
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How important is shoal-draft for cruising?

Criteria for new sailboat; 35-37 feet, blue water appropriate for extended cruising through Caribbean, transit through Panama and across the South Pacific, potential circumnav since I'm going that far already.
The only boats that fit the bill and have shoal-draft for shallow anchorage, getting into coral atolls, etc... seem to be the Tartan 37 with centerboards. I think these are very nice boats, but getting a little worn out.
Now there are plenty of nice blue-water boats (Waquiez, sabre, beneteau, etc) but they all have 6'+ draft vs. the 4' draft of the Tartans w/CB.

So my question is, how much difference is there really in ability to gunkhole, use anchorages, and get in and out of atolls with that 2' difference in draft?
Or should I forget the shoal draft requirement and get the newer blue-water boat that has more speed and better overall sailing characteristics?
Thanks for any help from those of you with the experience.
Bruce
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Old 01-24-2011
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For the 1/1000th of one percent of the anchorages you would have to bypass with a deep draft boat, I would suggest you ignore the shoal draft nonsense for world cruising and opt for a proper draft for sailing.
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Old 01-24-2011
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There are boats, like the French-built Ovnis that are very shoal draft that are well suited for blue water cruising. Then there are the multihulls, which also often have very shallow draft for their size.

I think the real issue is what you want to really do when you're out there? A shoal draft vessel has more options in terms of places you can go, where you can anchor, etc.

In the storm season, a shoal draft boat has a far greater range of hurricane holes to hide in, and this can be very important in more remote areas, where well sheltered waters are harder to find.

Many shoal draft boats have a daggerboard or centerboard, which gives them decent windward performance and allows you to tailor the amount of lee/weather helm that you have by raising/lowering the board.

Also, some shoal draft boats can dry out without falling over. This can make doing maintenance or repairs in remote areas of the world simpler. Not every port has a travellift that can handle a 35'+ boat.

Options for shoal draft boats include:

Wing keels
Keel and Centeboard
Centerboard only (usually found on multihulls, not larger monohulls)
Daggerboard only (usually found on multihulls, not larger monohulls)
Bilge keeled
twin keeled
Lifting or retracting keel
Swing keel
Shoal draft full keel
Multihull
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Old 01-24-2011
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We draw 7-6 ft and have sailed 12,000 miles in the last 3 yrs. Yes, we have to bypass some places but when you are out in 25ft+ waves and 50 knot winds you really appreciate the deep keel and shallow anchorages are not on your list of priorities as the waves go over the boat. You are heading out into deep water and not into anywhere the waves might break dangerously.

The decision on boat design should be based on use...cruising Florida and the Bahamas...get a shoal draft, crossing oceans...get a deep keel.

However, I probably would cross the Atlantic in a Tartan!

Phil

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Old 01-24-2011
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We draw 7-6 ft and have sailed 12,000 miles in the last 3 yrs. Yes, we have to bypass some places but when you are out in 25ft+ waves and 50 knot winds you really appreciate the deep keel and shallow anchorages are not on your list of priorities as the waves break over the boat.

Phil
Okay York, I wanna hear the story of that sail. Sounds pretty epic.
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SailingDog,
Thanks for the reply. As for "what I really want to do", I'll be sailing solo, exploring mostly the out-of-the-way little islands, atolls, etc... fishing and diving my way through wherever looks good. Starting in North Carolina, heading down through the Caribbean, then through panama and crossing blue water out to the Marquesas, then island hoping through the South Pacific, through the New Hebrides, Solomon's, etc... Then, since I've gone that far already, probably just go ahead and circumnavigate around the Cape, up to St. Helena, the Cape Verde islands, and back across to the Caribbean.
I'll be retired from government service, be a remittance man, and can basically do whatever I want with my time.
I'm just trying to decide if I should limit myself to only looking at boats that have a shoal draft. As I said above, I really like the Tartan 37 with the centerboard, which gives them good windward performance, but they are definitely getting dated. I really like the Wauquiez Pretorian 35, but they have 6'+ draft which I am just wondering how much that would actually limit my ability to get into the atolls and such, or if it really isn't an issue.
Thanks again.
Bruce
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Always amazes me that people think a deep keel is NECESSARY for crossing oceans. The Polynesians settled an area of the South Pacific, mostly to windward of their original islands, that is larger than North America, and using shoal draft multihulls--Proas and trimarans mostly...
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Old 01-24-2011
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I own a deep draft boat. I have chartered shoal draft boats. If you're accustomed to a deep draft boat, the windward performance of a shoal draft boat is laughable. I would not own one because of this, but that's just my opinion. I love to sail and hate to motor. I would gladly trade not being able to enter certain anchorages for better performance, but once again that's just personal preference. If you want something that goes to windward and has the draft to enter any anchorage, buy a powerboat. If that's out of the question, you're going to have to compromise on either convenience or performance.
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Again, a properly designed centerboard or daggerboard equipped shoal draft boat is going to go to windward just fine. The windward performance loss of the twin keel, bilge keel and wing keel designs is a compromise, but they are not the only choices when it comes to shoal draft vessels.

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Originally Posted by garymcg View Post
I own a deep draft boat. I have chartered shoal draft boats. If you're accustomed to a deep draft boat, the windward performance of a shoal draft boat is laughable. I would not own one because of this, but that's just my opinion. I love to sail and hate to motor. I would gladly trade not being able to enter certain anchorages for better performance, but once again that's just personal preference. If you want something that goes to windward and has the draft to enter any anchorage, buy a powerboat. If that's out of the question, you're going to have to compromise on either convenience or performance.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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Old 01-24-2011
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Quote:
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Always amazes me that people think a deep keel is NECESSARY for crossing oceans. The Polynesians settled an area of the South Pacific, mostly to windward of their original islands, that is larger than North America, and using shoal draft multihulls--Proas and trimarans mostly...
Then again, how many lives were lost in those proa's that were from a fundamental purpose, a canoe with ama's? If one is going to use these kinds of examples, why not use the "get a viking longboat" They traveled around a lot, or a dugout cedar canoe from a NW pacific coast indian tribe, or a kayak as the eskimo's uses to hunt whales etc in the ocean.........

There are frankly many kinds of boats out there. ALL have plus's and minus's. CB models as teh OP is looking at, have a place, as do keep keels, and shoal keels. Not that I personally would go looking for a shoal or CB model, deeper to me is better overall. BUT< I could see where a shallower draft rig could be the way to go in some places. FOr the OP, from you initial post, a T37 or equal with a CB could very well be the way to go frankly. For the very reasons you state! From where I sail, the more SA, deeper draft, lighter the boat can be...... the happier I am in the lighter winds I have locally, also being as it is up or down wind.........

Which could include a recently designed multihull too. I certianly would not choose a polynesian designed proa! still not sure why folks use these kinds of examples........ then again, maybe a santa maria or pinta would make a good boat to sail around the world too.........

marty
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