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post #1 of 24 Old 05-01-2013 Thread Starter
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Winged keel

What are the pro's/con's of a winged keel?
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

Pro - you can usually sail in skinnier water.

Cons - I was told the boat may be a bit more tender than the same model with a fin keel. Not sure about that, but that's what my sailing instructor told me.

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Re: Winged keel

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Originally Posted by Adirondackman View Post
What are the pro's/con's of a winged keel?
Run aground in mud/sand and the winged keel becomes a highly effective anchor. And you can't heel the boat to work free. At least that's what I've been told. Never had one, so I'd like to know how true that is.


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post #4 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

As most wing keels are between a foot and 18 inches shorter than their “normal” keel counterparts, how much of a real advantage do they really give? Do you guys normally sail in depths of less than two feet under your keels? When I am in skinny water, I’m always afraid of running across and getting stuck on a hump (did this twice). I’m also afraid of hitting that sunken shopping cart or lawn chair too. (I normally sail in depths greater than 100’ – I don’t know how you guys on the east coast can stand that skinny water.)

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post #5 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

Some things you just have to live with here in the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. And, most of the ICW is right skinny as well.

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Re: Winged keel

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I donít know how you guys on the east coast can stand that skinny water.)
How would you like it if all of us east coast people were to pack up and move to the west coast?

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post #7 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

Chuck, Do you know that California is C34 heaven? And San Francisco is home to the mighty Fleet 1? A fellow C34 skipper is always welcome. For the rest of you guys: Two forms of ID and a letter of recommendation from your YC Commodore please...

But seriously, you guys sail in that shallow water where a foot is the margin of safety? How do you account for tides? My Chesapeake experience is somewhat limited, I did do an AYC Beercan years ago as a trimmer on a C27 out of Eastport.

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post #8 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

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Chuck, Do you know that California is C34 heaven? And San Francisco is home to the mighty Fleet 1? A fellow C34 skipper is always welcome. For the rest of you guys: Two forms of ID and a letter of recommendation from your YC Commodore please...

But seriously, you guys sail in that shallow water where a foot is the margin of safety? How do you account for tides? My Chesapeake experience is somewhat limited, I did do an AYC Beercan years ago as a trimmer on a C27 out of Eastport.
The tidal range on the Chessy is about a foot so we don't have to worry a whole lot about tide.

And yes there are plenty of creek entrances where even with a wing keel you'll only have 2-3' feet below you in the center at high tide and if you get 1/2 a boat length out of the channel you'll be aground. The way we deal with it just like anywhere else; plan to cross shoal areas at high tide or not to cross them.

For the OP, the only advantage of a winged keel is the ability to manage short water. If your primary sailing area or intended use doesn't constrain you, I'd go fin. If you plan to cruise the Chesapeake Bay, ICW and/or Florida waters you're going to be more limited with a deeper fin than shoal draft or wing keel. A 6' keel on the Chesapeake will limit you somewhat, a 7' keel starts dictating what marina's will be available to you and rules out a ton of popular anchorages. I think ICW sailors tell you 5' is around the most you'd want.

In regards to wing keels being more problematic to get unstuck if you do run aground I can just say I've never experienced that and I've never personally met anyone with a story like that. I've found the bottom with my wing keel more times than I can count but have always been able to free myself. However, I was motoring into a creek or anchorage and feeling my way along so I didn't just ram myself aground.

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post #9 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

Like everything about a boat, a wing keel is a trade-off. You draw less water, but the conventional wisdom is that you don't point as high, and may heel a bit more in the same wind. I have a Catalina 320 with a wing keel, and I can attest that she doesn't point like the racers do. But I've never sailed the fin keel version of the C320, so I don't know if I've lost that much from the wing keel. One thing that is pretty unambiguous is that most wing keels are heavier than the equivalent fin keel, to keep the righting moment similar with a shorter keel. So sailing the wing keel is like bringing a couple extra friends aboard for every sail.

The real issue is how thin is the water where you sail, and what kind of sailing do you plan to do. I do my racing on a friend's boat that draws 7'6", and will out-point mine by a healthy margin. On the other hand, some days we can barely get my friend's boat out of the marina. I knew I wasn't likely to race my boat, and would be doing a lot of my sailing single-handed, with no crew to swing out on the boom to heel the boat and reduce draft. So the wing keel wasn't much of a sacrifice. And the all the water you sail in doesn't have to be shallow before you get a benefit -- just the shallowest spot you might have to cross.

On the other hand, if you plan to race, or if you sail mostly in deep water, and don't venture in the shallows, the shallower draft of the wing keel isn't much of a benefit, and the loss of pointing ability may bother you more. In that case, you'd probably be happier with a fin keel.

Basically, you choose which way you want to compromise, and then hope it works out. Either way, if what you're complaining about your is your sailboat, you're already doing pretty well.

Mark
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-01-2013
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Re: Winged keel

When I had my C-30 with a 5' keel, I hit bottom more than a few times. With my C-34, 4' wing, I haven't hit bottom the first time.
Here on the Chesapeake and all it's tributaries, we have more quiet little anchorages than you can count and the nice thing, we don't have to carry hundreds of feet of anchor rode. I've never put out more than 100'

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