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Shakin97 10-24-2011 07:18 PM

Water Ballast
Are any of these water ballast trailer sailors worth a hoot??? :confused:

Some say they are okay but don't point well, some say stay away at all costs...

If you wanted to learn to sail in protected waters, ie.. worst case being San Juan Islands, otherwise lake sailing...

You don't own a diesel truck to haul the 4550Lb+ Catalina 25 (+ = trailer and all your stuff maybe another 1500Lbs...

Would you go for a water ballast boat so you can sail with a family of 4??
If so, which manufacturer would you lean toward?

Or would you go for a much lighter displacement boat in the 25ft range?

Thanks for all the input!

CapnBilll 10-24-2011 08:07 PM

I am interested also.

Only two points I am aware of, Some boats also have fixed ballast, (newer macgregors have added ballast). Tanks have to be completly full and sealed for ballast to work, (otherwise free surface area can even reduce stability). The swing keel or daggerboard should also have some weight. Anything else some one feel free to chip in with experience.

Faster 10-24-2011 08:13 PM

Water ballast works best when it's 'high and wide'... ie all on one side and under the deck edge. Ocean racing boats do it this way, but obviously you need some elaborate systems to transfer the water on each tack, to dump for downwind and refill again.

Not exactly the kind of system you'd want on a smallish trailer sailer.

I have my doubts about the low/central water ballast systems used by Hunter and Macgregor, better than nothing, I suppose, but relatively speaking there's not a lot of weight there and it's not really in the right spot. I do see the advantage for the lighter towing weight.

A weighted centerboard or daggerboard would be my preference from a strictly sailing point of view....

hellosailor 10-24-2011 11:25 PM

Get a bigger truck and loose some of the stuff?

Water ballast for a trailer boat is a compromise, if you absolutely must do it...then you do it and accept it as having no alternatives.

Izzy1414 10-24-2011 11:36 PM


I have an M26S and they have water ballast. It is on the tender side but it is lighter and faster than most boats in its class (size and build quality). The 26S is not the motor sailor hybrid like the M and X, and as such is a more traditional sailboat and handles accordingly. And it does trailer very well. I regularly pull mine with a V8 Envoy (smallish SUV) That said, the only advantage of the water ballast I know of is that towability. As Faster mentions, without elaborate transfer systems, I don't think water ballast can be quite as effective as fixed ballast. The other thing it does is take up headroom space as you are, of course, standing on the ballast tank. Other than the headroom, the 26S is one of the roomiest 26 footer you will find. BTW, the swing keel is not weighted on this model, so practically all of the ballast is water. So my short answer to your question is you can get an average sailing boat, with above average room below, below average headroom and excellent towability by going with a water ballasted boat like my 26S.

Gust14882 10-24-2011 11:37 PM

Water ballast can be an issue for boaters travelling to and from lakes infested with zebra mussels and other animal/plant pests. Some lakes here in California require special clean out procedures and 30 day quarantines that could be difficult to meet.

bobperry 10-25-2011 11:36 AM

I'm not keen on that "in the bilge" approach to water ballast. It makes a lot of sense for a boat that will live on a trailer but the VCG is just too high for it to me effective ballast. However, when you just increase the displacement of a boat and keep the added weight low you do get a higher Rm and part of this is due to the added hull volume youi get when you add the water ballast. Your initial stability will go up with the expanded waterplane.

CapnBilll 10-25-2011 12:45 PM

One big disadvantage of water ballast is it is only effective out of the water, below the waterline it weighs nothing.

I am looking for a boat that suplements the water ballast with at least some fixed weights. A daggerboard with a weighted bulb on the end would provide excellent righting movement, and still be "trailerable", especially if the dagger board was able to be securely locked in both up and down positions.

If I was to design a boat, I would build a hydraulic cylinder into an oversized weighted daggerboard, with the rod bolted to the base of the mast step, giving a continuos metal rod from mast tip to keel tip. with a small battery operated pump like the trim tab pumps, (a manually operated hydraulic pump on a lever handle makes a good backup), will quickly raise and lower keel with weighted bulb).

Inflatable bulbs, (like fuel bladders), also controlled by small air pumps, with manual lever pumps as backup, can be used to stiffen rolling, in heavy weather, (like a rib tube on a sailboat), or deflated for speed when not needed. configured like the fuel bladders, (flat but expandable), with tapered ends they would be bolted flush with the hull when deflated, and expand to form bouyancy pockets when inflated...You would have the first, "unsinkable" trailer sailer.

The pump and the cyclinder can be machined into the keel piece, so there is no need for seperate, (failable), parts. I have seen a design for a robotic arm that the only moving parts were the piston, and the fluid itself, all other parts were machined as indentations in the arm.

Has anyone done a crossing, (however small), in a trailer sailer of any kind???

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