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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know the theory when it comes to low vs. high freeboard, but how does it actually affect sailing in general, and sailing in heavy weather in particular.
Low freeboard = less windage, less weight (potentially faster).
High freeboard = more room below, drier boat, and so on.
Input from sailors experienced with both respectfully sought.
 

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I think a higher freeboard allows a wider beam. If you figure that you want to be able to heel at least 20 degrees without dipping the rail then you'll also need additional freeboard as you make the boat wider. If I'm not forgetting my basic trig that means that for each foot of beam you'd want about 2" more freeboard, everything else being equal.

My Pearson 28-2 has about 3" or 4" more freeboard compared to the Yankee 30s that I also sail on. It is also about 1' wider. It seems like this relationship holds true on these boats, we both dip our rails at a little over 20 degrees of heel.

You could compare the freeboard on the very similar Tartan 30 and Yankee 30 to see if S&S also raised the freeboard on the Tartan 30 to match it's wider beam. There are drawings for both:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OhceXLWL1.../s1600/2016-Tartan+30+arrangement+plan300.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xue6-fbVn.../s1600/1999+Yankee+30+arrangement+plan300.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MkZqmZQo8...AMfUOKU/s1600/2016-Tartan+30+sail+plan300.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Z3Co4aPHk...64OGjT8/s1600/1999+Yankee+30+sail+plan300.jpg

The boats were designed 2 months apart from each other and have a lot of design elements in common except for the beam. It looks to me like their freeboard is pretty similar, but I haven't fired up Gimp to measure.

Edit: I did measure in Gimp. Measuring at two points (front of cabin, and top of transom) it looks like the Tartan 30 has 2.5" to 3" more freeboard to go along with the 1' wider beam.
 

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We've pretty much stuck with low freeboard boats. Yes, they are wetter. Yes they have less windage. Yes, they have less interior volume for their size. Lots of traditional boats have low freeboard. Lots of newer designs don't, but I think they show better at boat shows when you go below and imagine living on them.

Overriding these concerns is, well, IMHO they are just better looking boats. Too much freeboard on too short a boat just doesn't look right to us. So to me at least, it's an issue of proportion. You can have more freeboard on longer boat, but in general there is some ratio that works best to the eye.

Pretty superficial I guess, but it is what it is. Life's too short to have an ugly boat, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We like low freeboard. It's a tradeoff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Overriding these concerns is, well, IMHO they are just better looking boats. Too much freeboard on too short a boat just doesn't look right to us. So to me at least, it's an issue of proportion. You can have more freeboard on longer boat, but in general there is some ratio that works best to the eye.
Never really thought about it in terms of aesthetics, but a lot of times natural beauty also translates into safety and/or performance. I think that boats with too much freeboard have a higher center of gravity and thus have to compensate for it with more ballast and more beam, something that Alex brought up earlier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
storms i experienced in low freeboard sloops have been wet in boat.
my high freeboard formosa is dry in weather. can make the difference between comfort and endurance..
That would be especially important when sailing in higher latitudes and colder waters.
 

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The major performance downside is extra windage. This can be painful when close hauled, and doubly so since many high freeboard cruising boats also have dodgers with a lot of windage. I also find the windage annoying when docking in a blow.

The interior space advantages of extra freeboard and beam are nice. A beamy ~10' wide 30' boat gives up a little performance but gains a lot of interior space compared to a narrower one. The extra freeboard allows the settees to be placed closer to the edges of the boat without crowding shoulder space and usually give room for storage along the inside of the gunwales.

I prefer the lines of a lower freeboard with a nice shearline and reduced beam. My wallet prefers the $80 cheaper moorage that I get by having the interior volume of a 31-32' boat in a 28.5' envelope, and that only happened by increasing beam and freeboard by a few inches. When it is 35 degrees out and blowing I also do like the drier ride.
 

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I think that boats with too much freeboard have a higher center of gravity and thus have to compensate for it with more ballast and more beam, something that Alex brought up earlier.
I think you misunderstood my point about beam, though it can help with form stability.

As you make the boat wider the leeward gunwale gets closer to the water for a given heel angle. You need to raise the freeboard to compensate if you want to keep the rail out of the water. For a 20 degree heel angle (excessive on most boats, but not so excessive that you want the rail under water) you need to raise the freeboard about 2" for every foot of beam that is added.
 

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For an extreme example of how beautiful (again by my taste) a low freeboard boat can be, google images for sailing yacht Rebecca. Extreme low freeboard with extreme size. Wow. Much nicer looking than say a Perini but I'm sure the interior would be small by comparison for comparable length. We've seen her a few times, never invited aboard :)

A B40 yawl has the same effect on us. It just looks right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think you misunderstood my point about beam, though it can help with form stability.

As you make the boat wider the leeward gunwale gets closer to the water for a given heel angle. You need to raise the freeboard to compensate if you want to keep the rail out of the water. For a 20 degree heel angle (excessive on most boats, but not so excessive that you want the rail under water) you need to raise the freeboard about 2" for every foot of beam that is added.
No, I got that, but just wanted to bring up the center of gravity/stability issue to the beam/high freeboard ratio.
 

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I know the theory when it comes to low vs. high freeboard, but how does it actually affect sailing in general, and sailing in heavy weather in particular.
Low freeboard = less windage, less weight (potentially faster).
High freeboard = more room below, drier boat, and so on.
Input from sailors experienced with both respectfully sought.
Within reasonable limits, there is merit to the increased free board although it may not be aesthetically pleasing. A good comparison is Hinckley's B-40 and later OC-40 (a B-40 but with a straight rather than sprung shear). The B-40 is a great sailer but damned wet to weather compared with the OC-40 which some do not find so aesthetically pleasing. Holding to the "form follows function" principal, however, the OC-40 is the better yacht.

FWIW...
 
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My boat has a moderate beam but looks much lower than modern boats of the same length, of course modern boats have wider beams too. I feel that the designers of my boat know how to design a boat that is fun to sail, seaworthy and aesthetically pleasing.
 

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Overriding these concerns is, well, IMHO they are just better looking boats. Too much freeboard on too short a boat just doesn't look right to us. So to me at least, it's an issue of proportion. You can have more freeboard on longer boat, but in general there is some ratio that works best to the eye.

Pretty superficial I guess, but it is what it is. ... beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We like low freeboard. It's a tradeoff.
I'm with you, and it's strictly taste. I prefer the look of low freeboard boats, new or old, and accept the drawbacks(especially less volume).

I also prefer the feeling I get being closer to the water while sailing or at anchor in the cockpit and on deck.
 

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I have a high freeboard, wide beamed Morgan 33. In the nastiest weather I'm sitting high and dry, while the guys in the lower, narrower boats are getting slammed and drenched. The only time this has been a bit of a problem was when docking on a very windy day, but that's probably true with any boat, high or low sided. I suspect the winds action on the furled sails and mast have more bearing on this than the freeboard.

Now, I'm a cruiser - not a racer. So, if the boat goes a half-knot slower because of the freeboard height I could care less. I enjoy being warm, dry and comfortable while sailing in marginal weather. Additionally, I don't enjoy dipping the rails, which some folks tend to believe is really neat. If my boat heels 10 degrees that's a lot, which is fine with me. To me, it's neat to lock the helm, trim the sails and allow the boat to track in a perfectly straight line for miles on end while I sip Margarettas and listen to Jimmy Buffett music. ;)

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

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To me, it's neat to lock the helm, trim the sails and allow the boat to track in a perfectly straight line for miles on end while I sip Margarettas and listen to Jimmy Buffett music. ;)
Cheers,
Gary :cool:
Yes, It's quite nice when the helm is balanced! My S&S design does that quite nicely, But I never drink when underway, always wait until the anchor is held fast.
 

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What is considered a high or low freeboard?

Would you take the ratio of freeboard over LOA? My little boat only has about 2' 4" (obtained by measuring in Photoshop), so that would give F/L of 0.1.
 

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If you are out there is 8' breaking seas 6" more or less freeboard will not mean the difference between being wet or dry. High freeboard provides volume and that's about it. I can think of nothing else to say good about it.
 

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We've pretty much stuck with low freeboard boats. Yes, they are wetter. Yes they have less windage. Yes, they have less interior volume for their size. Lots of traditional boats have low freeboard. Lots of newer designs don't, but I think they show better at boat shows when you go below and imagine living on them.

Overriding these concerns is, well, IMHO they are just better looking boats. Too much freeboard on too short a boat just doesn't look right to us. So to me at least, it's an issue of proportion. You can have more freeboard on longer boat, but in general there is some ratio that works best to the eye.

Pretty superficial I guess, but it is what it is. Life's too short to have an ugly boat, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We like low freeboard. It's a tradeoff.
More than a "superficial" distinction, seems to me... Excessive freeboard is generally the result of a boat being designed from the inside out, around an interior accomodation plan, which rarely results in stellar sailing or seakeeping qualities... It might work at the boat shows, but not necessarily offshore...

Since the OP cited heavy weather ability, I'll take lower freeboard over higher every time... For me, one of the most essential characteristics in an offshore boat, is one that will heave-to easily... Excessive freeboard, particularly forward, can make doing so a real challenge...

You're not gonna find much lower freeboard on an offshore boat, than is seen on the legendary Contessa 32:



John Kretschmer affectionately dubbed the Contessa 32 he sailed around Cape Horn a "submarine", due to the amount of water she could ship on deck... And yet, after all these years, he still considers that boat to be one of his favorites:

Contessa 32 - A classic, incredibly well proven boat that is close to my heart. I sailed Gigi across the Atlantic and around Cape Horn. My book Cape Horn to Starboard is being reprinted this year. Arguably the most loved production boat of all time in England. Noted for extreme seaworthiness and the sweetest motion afloat. Also noted for small living space and very wet on deck.

John Kretschmer Sailing - Bluewater Boats
Of course, the reputation of the Contessa 32 was built largely on her performance in the '79 Fastnet...

Fastnet 79 - The winner's story | Yachting World

Willy Ker certainly doesn't seem to think low freeboard is a particular liability... :)

Quite the sailor:

 

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Current boats of pretty much all sizes seem to have greater freeboard than in the past. Because of this and perhaps for "modern" fashion they also incorporate portlights in the hull.
I find these hull port lights to be ugly and remain concerned they represent a point of potential catastrophe should they break/leak or get blown out. In a knock down I think it is easier to design a boat that will survive without high freeboard and hull windows. Some will argue a beamy high freeboard boat is less prone to a knockdown but again there are multiple features of design that enter into that conversation.
Wetness underway even beating depends on multiple factors. The old B40 did incorporate substantial cockpit coamings. I've sailed those to Bermuda and back and did not find them especially wet. Most boarding water occurs when the bow goes under and the deck is awash or when a wave strikes the forward quarter causing spray or the top of the wave to enter the cockpit. To expect to stay dry outside the cockpit is an unreasonable expectation in my view. Although other features can overcome inverted stability it is easier to achieve a good looking boat with good GZ and other features by not taking beam and freeboard to extremes. It is harder to avoid the clorox bottle look in a high freeboard boat.
My current boat has much higher freeboard then prior vessels. However it is in proportion to its size ( and she is beautiful in my eyes).
 
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