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gknopp 07-19-2003 03:23 PM

Wing Keel- pros and cons
My boat quest goes on as the boat I put money on failed survey. I am more the wiser.

Now, I am looking at a boat that has a wing keel. I live in South Carolina where the max draft we would consider is 5.0''. I have heard concerns about getting off if grounded with a wing keel. Can anyone add any views on this topic in shoal water?

Thanks to all.


Jeff_H 07-20-2003 02:21 PM

Wing Keel- pros and cons
Wing keels fair pretty poorly in a grounding. If heeled over you tend to bury the leeward wing and when aground the boat tries to stand up really planting that wing. If you run aground on the soft gumbo typical of the Carolina''s creek bottom while standing vertical, you develop a lot of suction making getting off very difficult and you don''t have all of the other options that you might have on a conventional keel.

In a recent study of alternative keel types performed by the US Naval Academy looking at the ease of freeing variuos keel types after a grounding, the issue of the more serious consequences of grounding a wing keel was found to be quite serious. Bulb keels did best, followed by simple fin keels. Wings did worst of all types tested.

If I were boat hunting in the Carolinas I would try to find a Scheel Keel, bulb keel, or keel/centerboard boat. (BTW When I lived in Savannah I owned a boat with 5''-6" draft and never ran into problems in Savannah or the area northward to Charleston or south to Brunswick.)

Good luck

russ325 08-01-2003 11:47 AM

Wing Keel- pros and cons
As far as grounding goes I have heard it is a problem with winged keels. Personally I didn''t find that to be the case - it seemed to "bounce" off the bottom first. My fin keel seems to dig in more. Of course the fin keel boat displaces twice as much as my winged keel boat so I''m not sure it''s a fair comparison. I honestly never have run hard a ground with either boat i.e. full speed since I knew I was in a shoal area and proceeded slowly. One thing I have heard is that you have a serious problem with a winged keel if you run aground at high tide and then it drops - apparently the winged keel will not allow the boat to settle on her side.

I really loved my winged keel boat - an O''Day 322 - sailed really nicely. I''m not a racer so maybe someone who is can give you of an insight on the keel differences and performance.

mattf 08-01-2003 12:42 PM

Wing Keel- pros and cons
Jeff has given you a good picture. If your waters allow a 5'' fin keel, that leaves you a lot of choices. The performance of a fin keel is better. (Point higher, etc) If you are going to be in very thin water, maybe a wing would be the choice. I am not a fin of a Scheel keel. (only experience is a Tartan 33, nice boat, but does not point as high as it should)

Good luck.

SailinJay 08-04-2003 06:37 AM

Wing Keel- pros and cons
One incident would not be considered statistically significant, but I recently grounded my Catalina 350 while motoring down the Severn River towards Annapolis at night at a healthy five knots. I had passed under the U.S. 50 bridge and was lining up to pass under the MD 450 bridge near the Naval Academy. Had the chartplotter on, but was not paying close attention. The Severn from Round Bay down to Annapolis is well marked and all the marks are lighted. However, there is a green day mark about 100-200 yards north of the 450 bridge that is not. The boat is listed as having a 4.5-foot draft and does have a wing keel. Imagine my surprise when the stern raised up a couple of feet as I plowed into what was about 4.1 feet of water, according to my depth meter.

I immediately checked the plotter, saw that I was just inside the green mark and very close to about 16 feet of water. I turned the boat perpendicular to the deeper water and attempted to motor out of the muck. The speedo indicated that I was making some headway, about 0.1 knots SOG. Had the mark to starboard as a reference point. Made no difference if I revved up over 2500 rpms or kept it at 1500; the boat would only move so much, so I obviously opted for the lower rpms. I had the main up, and let it out to port. I would say it took about 20 minutes to get free, but I did manage to do so. Of course, the bottom of the river is very soft. But I was able to free myself without too much trouble.

doubleplay 08-10-2003 06:44 PM

Wing Keel- pros and cons
What displacement and length of boat you are looking at?
If it is anything over 30-32 ft. you will be giving up a lot of performance and offshore safety with anytype of keel less than 5 feet.
Good Luck.
S/V Doubleplay

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