I was reading another thread which mentioned encapsulated vs bolt on keels. What's everyones opinion on the best keel design for a bluewater boat. I have leaned toward a lead keel bolted onto a frp stub molded onto the bottom of the hull. I believe Pacific seacraft does it this way. I don't really know the pros and cons of each. If you could have it either way, what would you choose, why? Thanks
Lots of other folks responded while I was typing, so pardon any redundant comments below....
If you are asking whether a bolt-on lead fin keel is preferable to a fin-keel with encapsulated internal lead ballast?
Some folks prefer internal lead ballast encapsulated within a molded fibreglass keel. The principal argument in favor of this arrangement seems to be that it avoids the need for potentially troublesome keel-bolts and their associated hull penetrations. Some also feel it is more robust in the event of collision with a submerged object or a hard grounding, believing that the overall keel design is stronger and will not experience point-load damage at the keel-bolts as an external ballast boat might.
Others prefer external lead ballast that is bolted to a keel stub. There are several arguments in favor of this approach: (1) In the event of collision or hard grounding, the lead is malleable and will partially deform, but can later be repaired. They would argue that a collision or hard grounding that would damage a properly designed keel bolt arrangement, would shatter and structurally damage an internal encapsulated ballast keel;
(2) Another advantage of the external ballast is that for the same draft the keel section can be designed with a narrower cross section, lower center of gravity, and less wetted surface, which generally provide better performance. This is because the thickness of the encapsulating fibreglass is absent from the cross-sectional measurements of the internal ballast boats.
For off-shore sailing, I am comfortable with a properly designed external ballast arrangement and prefer it, but I would not rule out a properly designed internal ballast boat (by properly designed I mean at a minimum that the ballast is cast lead).
Also, on the Pacific Seacrafts, yes, most of the Crealock-designed boats have bolt-on external lead ballast. However, the Crealock-designed Dana 24, as well as the older Morschladt designs like the PSC 25, Orion 27, and Mariah 31, and the Bingham-designed Flicka, all have internal, encapsulated lead ballast (and full keels).