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Halcyon1 10-15-2013 03:47 PM

Lifting Keel Yachts
We recently delivered a Southerly 35rs, a beautiful yacht, from Mallorca to the UK.

It got me wondering about why lifting keel yachts arenít more popular. I suppose in places like the Med you have a lot of depth, and therefore there isnít much advantage. In the UK though it opens up a whole new world of opportunities.

What do you think? Would you buy one? Do you own one?

Incidently this particular yacht is now for sale:

Southerly - Brokerage - Southerly 35RS


Stumble 10-15-2013 03:55 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
I don't own one but absolutely would. The one concern is stability with the keel up, because of the lost RM boats can become very tender.

tschmidty 10-15-2013 04:03 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
I personally think they are definitely neat. The Seaward Yachts with the lifting centerboard and weighted bulb seem particularly interesting.

caberg 10-15-2013 04:13 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
My initial thought--without knowing much about them--is that it's one more mechanical system to maintain and repair.

That said, the benefits are obvious. Some of the promotional pictures of the Seaward yachts in shallow water are spectacular.

RainDog 10-15-2013 05:16 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
I would for sure want one if I was going to high latitudes. Of course, I am not going because it is too cold.

tweitz 10-15-2013 05:39 PM

Lifting Keel Yachts
I have one, a Beneteau 323. The inlet to our dock crosses a sandbar, and it gives us far more freedom than we could have otherwise had. While the boat may be slightly less stiff than the normal keel model, the reasonably beamy hull gives good stability. With the keel down I draw 7 feet and it does help reduce leeway. But I often will sail without lowering the keel and we do fine. I have had the boat for 6 seasons and am absolutely delighted with it. We have had no special maintenance concerns. An added bonus is that the lifting keel uses twin rudders, which I find to be wonderful, giving a very smooth tracking, and never being overmatched when we heel, since the leeward rudder bites deeper. I understand it is designed to be able to stand on the keel and rudders if at a mooring that dries out, though I have never tried it.

Resolute_ZS 10-15-2013 07:05 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
I would definitely buy one. Southerly and Seaward are on my wish list. They just make sense.

jimgo 10-15-2013 09:28 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
I agree, I really like that idea. The Seaward 46RK looked pretty sweet!

fallard 10-16-2013 12:00 AM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
I've had my Clearwater 35 for 17 years and have really enjoyed the flexibility of a retractable keel. We've sailed her locally and have taken a dozen or so longer trips ranging from 200 mi. to 1700 mi. and have dealt with a range of wind and sea conditions. She is not what I would call "tender".

Our displacement is approx. 12,500 lbs. and our lead ballast is 5000 lbs. Half of the ballast is glassed into the very slack bilge and the other half is encapsulated within the leading edge of our elliptical fiberglas keel. With this ballast down low and a beam of 11' 4", she stays on her feet. We typically do not heel more than 20 degrees when close hauled. By comparison, a Bristol 35.5 k/cb is noticeably more tender.

Our keel pivots on a 1.5" dia. pin and can be completely retracted, along with our rudder which pivots like a centerboard, to allow us to float in less than 2' of water. We have an electric winch to raise the keel, with a switch by the helm for raising the keel on short notice. The interior headroom under the coachroof is 6'3", but the main cabin is divided by a keel trunk that extends to the coachroof--unlike the more open layout of the Southerly's. The accompanying photo shows our boat with the keel and rudder completely retracted.

Maintenance of the retracting hardware consisted of upgrading the original SS keel pin and replacing the aluminum rudder trunk with one of composite construction. That work was done 13 years ago and the only additional maintenance was replacing the dacron Stayset keel pennant, on a 10 year cycle. This is something I can do myself.

We've been caught in winds in the 30-45 kt range on several occasions and--although we would rather be somewhere else at these times--the boat handled it well. Our boat has inboard shrouds and is very weatherly, which helps.

When all is said and done, we wouldn't give up shoal draft.

krisscross 10-16-2013 02:53 PM

Re: Lifting Keel Yachts
A friend of mine owned a 30 foot C&C Mega at one time: MEGA 30 OD (C&C) sailboat specifications and details on That thing was a blast to sail (PHRF of 138) and very easy on the pocketbook to own. He rigged an electric motor to raise the keel, with manual backup.

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