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Thread: Wing, fin, or bulb...what are the trade offs? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-17-2008 04:54 PM
Omatako Fin keel (sort of) and a draught of 5'6". Also fully encapsulated making it safe from coming loose or being knocked off.

It is longish (as opposed to deep , not evident from this angle) so does marginally influence the turn rate when tacking but it's great for shallow water.

09-17-2008 11:55 AM
trantor12020 Well the original post is 4 years old so I guess its and interesting topic so I put in my piece. I've a wing keel on my Hunter 326. I hit rocks once 2 years ago that bent the wings upward (quite uniformly) so it looks like mantra ray. Couldn't bend it back. Then recently I ground on rocks (breakwater actually) and bent one wing more than the other. didn't affect sailing or pointing. so I don't know what effect a good set of wings does for the boat let alone a bent one. But if I have to buy a new boat, I'll go with fin (no wing).
09-17-2008 09:06 AM
petegingras I sail Narragansett Bay, wing keel now, and first aboard a Catalina '27 (deep draft). Sailing differences are valid (pointing higher deep keel or experincing more drift with wing) but what's wrong with tacking more with the wing? Keep the crew tight and on their toes.

And ask a broker which would sell quicker, in the Northeast, a '34 with a deep draft or a '34 with a shoal draft? It's a buyers market now, but some day you'll be the seller, and i'll bet the broker will say the shoal draft will sell quicker.
09-17-2008 08:01 AM
peg Have you considered a retractable fin or bulb keel?
Although it has its disadvantages (occupies some of the place in the cabin/ needs a well designed lifting mechanism) it combines the advantages of the shoal draft keel and the fin keel.
08-26-2008 01:12 PM
gilsurf We stuck out Beneteau 445 wing keel in some deep seagrass/muck/sand and it seemed to quickly dig a nice hole for itself and was very hard to get off. And, we just recently bumped on sand and got off easy. I guess that the wide surface area kept it from digging into the sand and stopped us before we could get in too bad? Trade offs. We do point quite well and 5'9" in 44' is nice to have.

08-18-2008 02:50 PM
Don't dismiss the full keels.

The modified full keel design with the cut away forefoot , like many of the Bristols, has some real-world advantages. Weeds, crab pots, and other junk, just slide off the keel and attached rudder. The prop is protected on my bristol in a cut-out just behind the keel. I've never caught anything on the underside of my boat. Some of these designs also have encapsualated ballast, which eliminates leakage, and keels falling off. I like the way it tracks on course. I can lash the tiller on a beat, and the boat will hold course a long time. The auto pilot easily keeps up. Most of these boats are quite heavy, but sail well. I can often outsail similar sized boats with wing and shoal draft keels. Especially in heavy weather. Pointing is on par with many wing keel boats, and better than most shoal keels. I've run aground at 6kts without any damage, and was able to pole and motor off. They take skill to back-up under power. Like any boat, docking is a learning experience.
08-18-2008 11:59 AM
tweitz I used to have an O'Day 272LE with a wing keel. I did manage to run her aground a few times, and did not find it particularly hard to unstick. I did not use the method of trying to heel the boat a lot more, as that would never work with a wing, but kedging off seemed no more difficult than in other boats. All my groundings were in soft sand, your mileage may vary.
08-16-2008 10:44 AM
wbrakman I have a wing keel on my Freedom 45. I sail a lot in the Florida Keys. I agree with Cruisingdad that there are good tricks to unstick these things, but I must suggest that kedging with the anchor should first be tried from the stern, otherwise the wing seems to bury itself more deeply.

01-09-2007 11:39 AM
S/VNirvana My last 2 boats were fin keels and the last a modified fin keel. The fin keel on my Pearson 36 draws 6' and the modified fin keel on my Jeanneau SO49 draws 7'.

The Pearson 36 is up here in CT and the Jeanneau is in the BVI. I wouldn't have a shoal keel up here. If you are going to be in shallow waters most of the time then it would be a neccesity to have a shoal keel/centerboard.

By the way the Pearson 36 is for sale. It's been reduced to $40,000.00
01-09-2007 10:38 AM
Cruisingdad Intersting comment. My last 2 boats were wings and I would not sail anything but a wing or a shoal draft (like a full keel, IP).

When you hang up on a wing, it is harder to get off, but there are tricks. My boats were a Catalina 380 and 400 (with wings, others were fins). I hung up on my wing about every freaking day... but I was also able to get into places I could not with a fin. If you were sailing the pacific or other deep waters with no intention of shallow water, you would be crazy not to get a fin. Put a 61/2-7 foot draft in S florida or a lot of the Bahamas (and many other places) and you will be running aground all day long or just wont get in at all.

I will also say that the ease of getting off with a fin can be overstated. It is easier than a wing, but you hard ground a fin in the mud, it creates some kind of a super-glue vacuum and that bad boy flat ain't coming out (not tha a wing would really be that much better, but hopefully you did not run aground with it).

Here are some tricks I have learned:

1) Can you back off? Duh. Don't over-do it. But most of the time I can back her off unless I ran aground hard.

2) Pull the halyard with the dink. If you pull the halyard over with the dink, a lot of times with a good reversse, you get the boat off the suction that it seems to create.

3) Lean out over on the boom. Grab a hold of the boom throw yourself out over the water (Trying not to fall in, of course). Have another person backind down at the same time.

4) Anchor method. Depending on where the deep water is, take your anchor out with the dink, set it, and winch it in while backing down. Sometimes we could push the bow around with the tender and use the windlass. You can use the same method setting her to stern and winching in from the cockpit.

5) Wait till the tide comes in.

6) Call Sea Tow. Sail in shallow water, you get to know them by name and they recognize your voice on the VHF. "Brian, you hung up AGAIN?? Do you even LOOK at your depth finder?" "Depth what? Is That what that thing is? Who needs a depth finder when you got a Sea Tow membership?" They lost money on me. Just remember to be friendly or learn patience. Get to know them and there is no such thing as a hard grounding.

- CD
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