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Jotun 08-14-2006 09:13 AM

Keel type?
What is better for the Northern Chesapeake: fin keel or wing keel? I'm not interested in a swing keel. They scare me.

PBzeer 08-14-2006 09:17 AM

Depends on the size of boat, and the maximum depth you want. The main problem with a wing, is it tends to bury itself on a grounding.

sailingdog 08-14-2006 09:25 AM

A keel with centerboard is also a good option. Wing keels can be really hard to get unstuck after a grounding, fin keels much less so. What size boat are you looking at?

Jeff_H 08-14-2006 09:25 AM

To add to PBzeer's comments, I would suggest either a fin or a bulb. Naval Academy studies of goundings suggest that a bulb is generally the easiest form of a keel to extract from a grounding; followed by fin keels, long fins, full keels, wing keels and then lastly bilge (twin) keels.


Jotun 08-14-2006 09:30 AM

I'm looking to move up from my daysailer to a pocket cruiser.... Something in the 25- to 30-foot range. I had heard of the difficulty on grounding with the wing, but I also thought that with the depths of the N. Chesapeake it might be easier. I currently sail out of the Bohemia River.

SailorMitch 08-14-2006 09:57 AM

As probably the only person on this forum who has direct experience with winged keels dating back to 1989, I have to say that wings get a bad rap from most people. I've owned 2 boats with wings (both Pearsons, currently own a P-33-2) and here's my experience with them. Because of their very shoal draft, you won't be running aground much anyway, and when you do, the keel tends to bounce at first and not dig in the way a fin or bulb would. Thus, you have a chance to steer for deeper water right away.

BTW, I sail out of the Patapsco River and have gunkholed all over the northern Chesapeake.

sailingdog 08-14-2006 10:46 AM

One thing about wing keels that I'd also point out. If you do go aground, then you can't heel the boat to reduce draft, as your draft will increase a bit as you heel a winged keel, due to the wings. Might make getting off a bit more difficult, but YMMV.

Jeff_H 08-14-2006 11:28 AM

As another person with experience grounding a wing keel in the soft mud and sand of the Chesapeake, I found a wing keels reputation for being extremely had to unstick very deserved. We hit at a slight heel angle and we were seriously planted. It took a rather large power boat with a line to the halyard to get us out of what would have been a mild grounding on a fin keeler. Sailingdog had that right.


SailinJay 08-14-2006 11:37 AM

I will echo SailorMitch regarding the bad rap for wing keels. I draw 4.5 feet on my boat with its wing keel and you're not likely to have a problem unless you're close to shore and/or inside a mark. If you follow the charts and marks when close to a port or shore area, it's pretty hard to run aground. I would also second his comment about bumping and being able to steer to deeper water very quickly. This happened to me once coming into Rock Hall, where the safe course is to go wide to the left to go around the harbor. There is a diagonal cut that you can take. I was using my chartplotter coming in and thought I was in the cut, but when I bumped once, then again, I immediately executed a hard turn to port into deeper water without incident.

Cruisingdad 08-14-2006 11:42 AM

I totally respect Jeff H's & SD's opinion as being very knowledgeable on boats, etc.

That being said, I have owned fin(s) and wing(s). I currently do own a wing. Fins come off easier, but you will run aground a while lot more. Fins typically point better and perform better too.

I personally have run aground on a wing keel more times than I could possibly even count. In Swest Florida, Keys, Bahamas, etc., it is just a way of life. There are many methods for getting it off, other than pulling over the mast... which can be problematic for a wing. Instead of recounting all of those here, I will just say that you get used to it. When you are in shallow, unfarmiliar grounds, just go slower.

In shallow water, I cannot imagine anything but a wing. You will have accessibility to places a deeper draft vessel cannot even dream of getting to. It opens up more areas.

Just my humble opinion.

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