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  #1  
Old 11-27-2008
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Swing Keel on a Cruising Boat

We visited the Earl's Court Boat Show today, and the most interesting boats we boarded were the Southerly 38 and 32 footer. These are English made boats with swing keels and relatively high production quality. They have been made for 30 years by Northshore yachts, who also make the respected Vancouver cruising sailboats.

Northshore Yachts

Anyway, there are Southerly boats at our marina, and the finish is nice but I always thought of them as solidly-made coastal cruisers. The swing keel makes the boat beachable, which is a big deal over here with shallow water bays and drying slips.

As we looked over the offshore touches on the 38 and 32 models (connection points for harnesses, full handrails inside and out, etc.), I asked if they were often taken off-shore. I was told about how the Shards, of the Distant Shores program, had just replaced their 19 year old Two-Step with a 42 foot Southerly:

Distant Shores

Anyway, I was surprised, but not too much. I did read Jimmy Cornell's latest book earlier this year, and after decades of cruising he had gone with an Ovni aluminum swing keel made in France, and put thousands of miles on it, including visiting Antartica. He liked the keel for exploring and anchoring in shallow bays, and beaching the boat.

According to the Shard's website blog about the new boat, they narrowed their choices to a boat with a swing keel for similar reasons, but opted against alumninum as a hull material. That left the Southerly as the next choice for them in the new boat market, with a fiberglass hull, and they documented their involvement with the production process.

The 35 foot model would have met their needs if they hadn't wanted to do chartering with guests as part of their program, and thus they went with the 42 footer. I was a bit surprised today that the berth arrangement wasn't signiifantly different between the 32 and the 38 footer, but storage would be. Interesting boats.

Anyway, this is simply a sharing about how some higher profile cruisers went swing keel, and why, despite some concerns expressed by others by the choice. Apparently, the Shards pretty much took the new boat and crossed the Atlantic with it. Their report after 5000 miles with the 42 appears positive, and their Bahamas trip sounded like a lot of fun (and then on to the ICW).
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Last edited by Jim H; 11-27-2008 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 11-27-2008
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Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice
Jim...I would add that the OVNI is not really comaprable to any other boat you may throw at it...less with the Southerly...(a nice boat indeed)..

An OVNI is indeed one of the best boats in the world..damn expensive too..

In the summer, I see many around here, most beached at low tides.altough I don't like the looks and design...I admire the boat's quality and all around "sea going stuff"....Its a boat I would have once I get old.
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Old 11-27-2008
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[QUOTE=Giulietta;408401
In the summer, I see many around here, most beached at low tides.altough I don't like the looks and design...I admire the boat's quality and all around "sea going stuff"....Its a boat I would have once I get old.[/QUOTE]

We put some thought into a used OVNI before our last purchase, but decided the prices were too high. When I sailed to France in June, I found 2-3 in marinas that I looked over that had some years on them. I'll admit that cosmetically, their decks and topsides were not the prettiest around. The aluminum had gone milky, etc.

That said, I've been on a new Ovni at the London boat show last year, and the interior struck me as a true cruising boat. Solid and sensible build.

One other note about the 42 foot Southerly-- the Shards were impressed by how stable the boat was during the Atlantic crossing when they put the keel fully down (9 feet deep). I believe the Ovni keel is more like a centerboard blade, but the Southerly is a faired design, like a keel. Fully up, the 42 foot Southerly draws just 2 feet nine inches (before it is loaded with cruising gear).

Jimmy Cornell wrote very well about how to handle the Ovni offshore. Like the Shards, though, I'm a little nervous about how to handle corrosion if it were to occur.
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Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice Giulietta is just really nice
Given the corrosion may be an issue, but if you can get it under control it's a small sacrifice to do, in exchange of a metal boat...

I had a guy here with an old IOR racer, from the end of the 90's and he swore he did very little more than with a normal hull...

Now...the colours and the "metal look" is something I never admired really.

By the way...I spoke with a guy today, he came in from France this week and is leaving Monday, to Madeira-Canaries-Martinique....on a Dufour 34...completely standard...

It's all in the mind, really....
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Old 11-27-2008
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The big problem with the Ovnis is that Aluminum is pretty low on the anodic scale and a small electrical problem can cause major damage. There was an aluminum boat down in Rhode Island that went from being in good shape to having to be total lossed over the course of one season due to bad stray current problems in the marina it was at.
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Old 11-28-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
The big problem with the Ovnis is that Aluminum is pretty low on the anodic scale and a small electrical problem can cause major damage. There was an aluminum boat down in Rhode Island that went from being in good shape to having to be total lossed over the course of one season due to bad stray current problems in the marina it was at.
Cornell wrote about this in his latest book, and most of what he referred to (in terms of protecting an aluminum boat from stray current) is referenced here:

Seaguard - Corrosion monitors and corrosion loggers

From Noonsite, there's also a link to this site, with a lot of aluminum cruising boat information:

In-Depth Discussion of Aluminum Boat Design & Selection, Part III|Offshore Sailboat Voyaging|Attainable Adventure Cruising
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Ovni, refuse to disclose the angle of vanishing stability, rumored to be 100 degress or less!!!
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Many people have seen corrosion on aluminium masts and this makes them nervous about an aluminium structure, but masts are constructed from 6 series aluminium, which is less resistant to corrosion and they have an enormous number of stainless steel bits and wires attached to them usually with no attempt at isolation.
If you are sensible and careful with wiring a well constructed aluminium boat should not have any problems with corrosion. The 5 series of aluminium on its own is the most resistant material to seawater that is used in boatbuilding. Suspend some unpainted 5 series aluminium in salt water and come back in 100 years it will look the same and still be as strong as day 1 no other commonly used boat building material would pass this test. Problems can occur if the electrics or attachment of stainless steel is done incorrectly, but boat builders know the correct way to do things and if you own an aluminium boat you also need to know this.
Structural problems with fiberglass boats, such as core rot pose more problems.
Ovnis are great cruising boats if you want a shallow draft don’t be put off by the aluminium it is a major advantage.
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sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice
Aluminum lifeboats were abandoned for shipboard use over problems related not to stray current but because of the easy possibility that contact with dissimilar metals could not be avoided. Leave steel wrench laying in the bilge of one and a few months later there's a wrench shaped hole in the hull. You have to be very meticulous about dissimilar metals with aluminum for your hull and that creates a tendency to give steel the nod, despite the weight savings of aluminum. And, as Dog alludes, deterioration can occur quickly. Also, ever weld aluminum? There's a bit of an art to it and most welders do not possess it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
Leave steel wrench laying in the bilge of one and a few months later there's a wrench shaped hole in the hull. You have to be very meticulous about dissimilar metals with aluminum for your hull and that creates a tendency to give steel the nod, despite the weight savings of aluminum. And, as Dog alludes, deterioration can occur quickly. Also, ever weld aluminum? There's a bit of an art to it and most welders do not possess it.
Yes if the bilge is wet and you leave steel, or even worse copper, in contact with the hull you will get corrosion. A wrench would not poke a hole in the hull in months but eventually it could and certainly you would see some damage in months.
Aluminium boats overcome these problems in many ways. The simplest is not to leave your wrench in the bilge! Ovnis solve the problem by painting the inside. (You would have a hole in a steel yacht with or without the wrench if it was left unpainted). The most common and easiest solution is to keep the bilge dry, this is easy to do on an aluminium boat as the deck and fittings don’t get the leaks fiberglass boats suffer from.

I agree about the welding dont buy an aluminium boat unless you know it was built by a professional builder who knows how to weld.
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