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Old 03-03-2004
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Beneteau retractable keel

Does anyone have any experience with the Beneteau 311 or 331 with the retractable keel? I keep my current boat, an O''Day 23 with a keel/CB, at a dock in extremely thin water, but it''s a great hurricane hole. I''ve been comparing boats for several months and there aren''t many in the 30-35'' range that draw less that 4''. Any other suggestions are appreciated. I''ll be using the boat for coastal sailing on the northern Gulf racing, just relaxin''.
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Old 03-03-2004
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Beneteau retractable keel

Terry, you might look at the Feeling line (French) as all their boats up to 44'' are offered with centerboards. Even if a distributor in the U.S. isn''t convenient to you, understanding how they do their board''s rigging, amount of ballast, beam, etc. might be a useful benchmark for you.

Seaward is now marketing a roomy (31''?) sloop that''s made not terribly far from your location, in Clearwater, FL. It uses a lifting keel plus ballast...a different option than a centerboard.

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Old 03-04-2004
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Beneteau retractable keel

Go to this link.

copy and paste into browser. Not everyone knows there is a lift keel 32 and 35 Jeanneau. email me if you want more info.
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Old 03-05-2004
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Beneteau retractable keel

Jack, othertack,

Thank you for your replies & info. I''ve checked out the Feeling & Jeanneau web sites as well as the Beneteaus at a local dealer. All three of the "French" boats utilize twin bilge(?) rudders off-set from the centerline. My concern with these is the lack of protection a rudder normally gets from the keel. This fear may be unfounded because of the sheer number of boats these manufacturers produce. I haven''t heard of any problems along these lines yet. When I looked at a new Beneteau 311 out of the water at a dealers, one of the rudder stocks already had a small crack. (To the other readers: I''ve been following this message board since 300 messages had been posted, so please spare me the usual "Benehuntalina" comments.) I''d be interested if anyone out there owns or has had some experience with this rudder design.

Jack, the Seaward Eagle avoids the inherent problems of rudder damage when the keel is lifted in shallow water by allowing the rudder to swing up away from the sea floor. I have to admit I have been spoiled by being able to trailer my current boat to perform bottom painting and other regular maintainance. My problem with most trailerable boats is that my old back puts up a fuss after a couple of days of not being able to stand up in the cabin. I''m in my mid fifties and I''m learning to appreciate comfort a little more. I know that there are a few pocket cruisers that have cabins with almost six feet of standing room, but I don''t find their lines pleasing to me. (My apologies if I offend anyone, but this is just my personal taste.)

As a side note about mass production boats: a previous owner sailed my un-modified 1983 O''Day 23 from the Caymans to Pensacola. Dont'' get me wrong, I would never suggest that my boat is a blue water cruiser. This does illustrate that just about any boat is safe if it''s systems are kept in good shape and a capable captain keeps a sharp eye to the weather.

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