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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Sailboat Design and Construction
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  #1  
Old 09-18-2008
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Shallow draft performance boats

The new J95 introduced with a 3.0/5.5 foot draft has reminded me of a question that has nagged me for some time. I am guessing the answer is simple - price. Now for the question.

The current keel designs on many performance boats are narrow and short from fore to aft as well as deep with a bulb on the bottom. They seem very suitable as retractable keels and in a larger boat the housing for this keel while retracted could easily be designed into a bulkhead or wall seperating a head from the main cabin. I believe this is in fact done with some boats now - but they are more smaller trailerable cruising boats.

So why are not larger boats in 30 - 40 foot range that have drafts typically of 7 feet not designed with a retractable keel so that a boat can be moored in a marina with a shallow entrance, or transit waterways or canals at four feet or less?

Those of us who have shallow entrances to marinas but desire a performance boat would love to have something like this.

Is it too complicated or just too expensive to build?

Am I always going to have small boats or boats like Hobie 33 or the new J95 (after lotto win) with spartan interiors in order to get a performance boat?

Thanks

Mike
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  #2  
Old 09-18-2008
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Price would only be a small part of the answer. The engineering for a moving keel is drastically more complicated, especially in a higher performance cruising boat. You'd end up sacrificing a good deal of interior space for it as well. Current trends like spacious cabins.... a lifting keel doesn't really help with that.

If you want a performance boat that has a shallow draft, get a Gunboat 48.
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  #3  
Old 09-18-2008
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Ah - the multihull alternative again.

I like monohulls. Friends purchased a 2008 C&C99. Draft 5'5". They need a 1.1m tide to get in or out minimum. The boat has a very nice interior and pretty good performance.

When discussing this boat the question comes up - what would you buy in that price range. I like J boats but none of the new boats would be able to use our marina. I also really like the Beneteau First 10R, but I could not sail that out of our marina. I dream of winning the lottery and having a hot designer create a boat that would be like these with the retractable keel. I would build 5 for a class and sell for half what they cost .... of course if I had that much to spend I would probably be better spending $80K to dredge the channel.

Anyway - back on topic. There are a lot of areas with marinas and canals that have shallow draft but the open water is deep enough for 7 foot keels. I just do not see why there are not more performance boats for these areas.

Hats off to J Boats. The J95 is exactly that. the only problem is I would have to wait 10 years for them to age to affordability ....

Mike

Last edited by mikehoyt; 09-19-2008 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 09-18-2008
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You might want to look into

a Fast 40. If you can keep the keel in. I heard of one that had the keel slip out of the well on their way to Bermuda. This one Narrow Escape

apparently got to Hawaii OK though, along with some others in earlier years.
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Old 09-18-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulk View Post
a Fast 40. If you can keep the keel in....
I think you were being facetious but, just in case: Good lord, no! Only if you enjoy sailing at extreme angles of heel!! It has minimal form stability: 40' LOD with an 8' beam!! This is the boat I think of when someone mentions "sailing on her ear".

Downwind, sure, like a sled ride to Hawaii. But not if you're racing windward/leeward courses in a stiff breeze.

Just my humble opinion.
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Old 09-18-2008
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Mike
Check out the Seaward 32RK. Retractable keel, draft goes from 20" to 6'6"

Mike Z
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Old 09-18-2008
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IIRC, the Seaward 32RK is designed to be trailerable.
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Old 09-19-2008
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Having some experience with a couple sport boats with lifting bulb keel arrangements I can attest to a couple of issues.

1) Lifting keels stick. They must have very close fitting bushings in order to prevent banging around and changing attitude (the keel's attitude and the skippers). Lifting or lowering they tend to bind up, and when a couple thousand pounds decides to free itself the end result is noticable to say the least.

2) They are heavy. This requires very specialized lifting equipment. In sportboats this is usually in the form of a removable ratcheting winch, but in a cruising version would likely be built in, possible hydraulic, and require periodic and careful maintenance. Dropping the keel might take out part of the boat

3) Bottom paint isn't going to last long. See #1

4) There MUST be a means to secure the keel down. This could be a flange screwed down every time (like Melges 32) or a pin.

5) Fairings. They break all the time and require costly repair.

6) Groundings. This goes for all these new fangled sportboats, but especially those with lifting keels. A good grounding could be catastrophic.
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Old 09-19-2008
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How about moving from the est coast, to the wonderful NW US! I sail in 400-600' of water all the time, draft is NOT an issue. Now that is NOT to say one can not ground them selves in Puget Sound and equal parts of the area, but it is NOT something one has to typically worry about. Unless trying to round Blakely Rock as close as one can to shave 100 yds or so off the course.........lots of lead given to Neptune on said rock, and some gold to CSR for fixing said lead!

I do agree, that at times a retractable keel of some sort is a good thing. There are a number of boats in the 10-15' range, mostly from Europe with lifting keels, ie CB styles. and even some with twin bilge keels such that they can rest on the bottom during low tide in mud or equal. Jeanneau has a SO 32 with a 6+' draft, a CB that goes from 2-6.5', and a bilge keep/twin rudder version that is about 3' draft.

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Old 09-19-2008
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Columbia builds a 30 with a retractable keel and it looks like a sled. Pricey though
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