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post #1 of 17 Old 09-08-2007 Thread Starter
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cruising a Westerly Centaur 26

I just bought a 1972 Westerly Centaur on ebay for real cheap! $333.43. I have googled the westerly sites and have read alot about how they are stable, roomy, not much pointing ability,...etc.

IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE THAT IS ACTUALLY CRUISING IN ONE NOW?
If there is I would like to here how it "really" is. I would like to dream about sailing to the bahamas and beyond. Is this vessel-repaired and updated- capable of the task? thanks patrick
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post #2 of 17 Old 09-08-2007
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The Westerlys are pretty seaworthy little boats. While I don't know anyone cruising in a Nomad personally, I do know that cgoinggal is cruising in a Westerly Nomad named Andunge.
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-09-2007
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Is this the Westerly with bilge keels? If so, what you'll lose in pointing ability, speed and in making lee-way will be gained in tidal areas where you can "dry out". Basically, if you're not in a hurry, it's a solid choice for a single person and is well-built.

Ah, it is the bilge keeler:http://www.boatus.com/jackhornor/sai...yCentaur26.asp

I think it would be a great Caribbean boat. Think what you'll save on inflatables by being able to walk back to your boat!
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post #4 of 17 Old 09-10-2007
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Bilge keels have a bad reputation, but is it really deserved? The link below implies they're actually very good:

http://www.boatbuilding.com/article....gesoftwinkeels

And the Westerly owners site has a lot of good info also:
http://www.westerly-owners.co.uk/

(edit: if they were crap, would there have been over 2400 built?)


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Interesting stuff. Given the number of Open 60s that not only have canting keels, but twin daggerboards angled 15 degrees outward or so, I think that the problem with the first twin bilge keelers is that they perhaps didn't take the concept far enough.
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IMHO, the real problem with twin keels is the additional wetted surface area and how much it affects the boat's ability to move in light air.

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I think they actually don't have too much more wetted area, since the keels are smaller, you don't end up with two 'full size' keels, but i'm not sure how close to a wash it might be. Also, I think they figured out at some point to use an 'air-foil' (water-foil?) shape to generate lift. I like to believe that there is actually much better performance in the twin keels than 'conventional wisdom' dictates (at least with some of the 'newer' ones). Maybe 'cuz I'd like one someday.....


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post #8 of 17 Old 09-17-2007
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I've got a 1972 Westerly Centaur (hull #K599) that I plan to sail from Rhode Island to Bermuda in a few weeks (if I can find crew!). I did a lot of research and found at least 1 has circumnavigated and many others claim to routinely cruise North Sea routes. By far the best place for info on Westerly's is the Westerly Owners forum. Practical Sailor also did a review which was positive.
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-26-2007
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You have a great boat there for cruising. I owned a Centaur for over 25 years and there is no question that it is capable of offshore cruising. There will be some modifications to make, as with anything less than a Westsail or Pacific Seacraft, etc. But nothing major.

Let me address some of the common questions about the boat and twin keels:

"Is it slow?"

Compared to what, exactly?

A similar waterline length, similar displacement and similar sail area? No.

But therein lie all the details that matter.

A typical US made sailboat of similar length will likely be much lighter weight, less displacement, but more sail area. So of course they will be faster, in light to moderately light winds. The Centaur was built for people whose nearby pool of water might be the North Sea. So it is strong, with the weight necessary for strength of construction, and appropriately canvased with sail area less than what we have here for a boat used for sailing Long Island Sound in August.

But offshore, and coastal in moderate to strong breezes the Centaur - and similar vintage Westerlies of all sizes - is in it's own. You'll be cantering along while the lightweights are well reefing down. You'll be in a stiff boat while they are heeling waaay over. And even more significantly, your boats mass will carry it through the seas that are knocking the lightweights around, especially going to windward.

Which brings the next question:

"Do twin keel boats not point as high?"

In my experience I see no signifigant difference. Other factors are of more importance.

Consider a single keel boat heeled over. The keel is at an angle to the water, not vertical. But when a Centaur is heeled the leeward keel is vertical and that provides more resistance to leeway than a keel that is angled favorably to slippage. (I also think that twin keels are more resistant to rolling, too).

I had the opportunity to sail my Centaur in company with a Pembroke, which is the single keel variant of the same model. We found no significant differences in pointing ability or speed. With same basic model - apart from the keels - we concluded that such issues as how clean your bottom is, how well your rig is tuned, what condition and how well designed are your sails, and how good are you at trimming, are more likely to affect the boats performance.

Both of us could pinch up high, but both found that a bit more speed was attained by easing off a tad. Close hauled, on a reach, or running, our trimming and steering mattered. My sails were newer and probably better, but he was a better skipper. We went back and forth. In the end we concluded there was no significant difference based on the keels alone.

FWIW I used to be able to take Tartan 27's most of the time. That's a single keel, full w/cutaway forefoot. Now, compared to a modern fin keel designed for speed rather than comfort in a chop, no, I would not try.

Enjoy your Centaur. And pocket all the money you'll save by beaching on a bar at high tide and skimming the bottom at low. I used to go 2-3 years between bottom painting.
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post #10 of 17 Old 10-03-2007
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That's great info! Did you ever have it out in heavy weather or do a gulf stream crossing, and how was it? The worst I've experienced was coming back from Block Island into Narragansett Bay, I had a 25 knot wind and a nasty 5 - 8 chop on the nose; the boat didn't pound and handled well (a spray dodger would have been nice though as I did get soaked). Apparently a H.T. Rothwell single-handed a Centaur in the transatlantic crossing in 1986, but I can't find much data on that, and Steve Way did a circumnavigation in the '70s.

The original post notes that the boat might need some work; I've found that the Centaur is very accessible and there are a few things you will want to check / replace such as the through-hull valves and rigging. Mine needed no major work, but a lot of small things. I am new to this so I relied on a few resources; Practical Sailor did a review, there's a review by Jack Horner on BoatUS, and a few reviews on Practical Boat Owner (PBO). I also found books by Bill Seifert (200 Passagemaking Tips) and Nigel Calder (Cruising Handbook) to be very helpful, especially for safety and comfort issues.
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