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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
My wife and I are considering the purchase of 30-32 foot boat for light coastal cruising/weekending north and south of the Fort Lauderdale area. Before we narrow down which boat we like best, I feel like we need some regional input in order to help decide. Can anyone here familiar with these waters give us some advice as far as the better types of rigging for this area (standard vs. tall, masthead vs. fractional), and keel shapes (fin vs. wing or shoal)?

We live here year round, and it's the Atlantic, so I know there are times when it really blows, times when it's dead calm, and everything in between. But what's the regional average? Local depths don't seem to be a big issue and the inlets and coastal bays around here are mostly deep enough (exceptions - Lake Boca kinda shallow at certain points). So unless we take trips to the Keys "bayside" (where shoal keels rule), I think the length of the keel is not so much an issue, but a winged keel might make me feel less vulnerable in any case. Having said that however, I would not desire a tall rigged boat with less than a full keel, but I have a feeling that a tall rig would be overkill down here?!?

Very much appreciate any advice! Thanks in advance.

Chris
 

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I have sailed out of www.CGSC.org in Coconut Grove for over 10 years and when sailing the Keys and the Bahama anything over a 5 ft draft requires a lot of attention to detail unless you stick to the main channels. My present boat draws almost 8 ft and when I return to Miami the first thing I do is renew my SeaTow membership!

I had great fun with a Corsair F31 which drew 5.5 ft with the board down and 22 inches with it up. The best keel boat for the area that I sailed was the Beneteau 31 drop keel. Both of those boats are pricey but there are lots of cheaper centerboard boats available.

The Beneteau sailed really well with a standard rig and the board down and the Corsair is a 15 knot rocket ship.

Wing keels are difficult to get off when aground because you cannot lean them over.

CGSC is a great place to keep the boat, reasonable prices, good security and only 4-5 hours from Bimini in the Corsair!

Good luck and do check out CGSC. Phil
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Phil,

The Grove is a great place, but a little far to drive if we just wanted to go for a day sail or quickie overnight. The B-311 is one of 3-4 boats on our short list, but haven't seen any for sale with centerboards. Did you have any issues with the board's moving parts below the waterline with your 31?

I've heard that about wing keels and how they are trouble getting lose when stuck. Someone suggested that was more of a problem on fresh water lake's muddy bottoms, as opposed to the somewhat looser sand bottoms around here, but sounds like its maybe more common than that. BTW, I'm not familiar with this technique, but how does one "lean" a 30 footer to help get her lose anyway (assuming only 2-3 on board)?

THX
Chris
 

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Chris,
The Beneteau dagger board is a very well engineered structure not like the center-boards of yesteryear and is deployed by a screw mechanism.

The problem with sailing out of Ft Lauderdale or north of there is that there is nowhere to sail of interest compared with Biscayne Bay and the Keys...driving is much faster but I agree convenience is of great importance.

Heeling a 30 ft boat is best done by having your wife and her mother crawl to the end of the boom placed at right angles to the hull. Failing that you can use a dinghy with outboard to heel the boat by pulling laterally on the main halliard at the masthead. However it is easier to pay the SeaTow insurance.

Good luck Phil
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmmmm......Sea Tow or wife and Mother-In-Law hanging off the boom? That's a tough one!:D Anyhow, I see how the heeling could work for a fin vs. the wing in that situation....thanks!

I agree there's not much north of here worth cruising to. We used to be power boat cruisers and always went south. In fact one friend just moved his boat from up here down to Dinner Key, and another couple just purchased a 35 Hunter they're going to keep down in the Grove....all for the reasons you mentioned! Definitely worth thinking about! Maybe we'll start out up here, while I get more sailing experience, then see about moving it south. New to sailing obviously, so mostly gathering info right now. Thanks again!

Chris
 

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Absolute max draft 6ft

I would aim for 5ft or less.

Centerboarder is ideal if a monohull. This would be high on my list drawing less than 3 ft with board and rudders up. http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/cache/searchResults.jsp?cit=true&slim=quick&ybw=&sm=3&searchtype=advancedsearch&Ntk=boatsEN&Ntt=centerboard&is=&type=%28Sail%29&man=beneteau&fromLength=28&toLength=33&luom=126&fromYear=&toYear=&fromPrice=&toPrice=200000&currencyid=1005&city=&spid=&rid=&cint=&pbsint=&boatsAddedSelected=-1

I would avoid a tall rig but would spend some money on light air sails, big assy on a bowsprit or at least a code zero on it's own furler. I would much rather ghost along a 3 - 4 knots than donk it.

A performance tri like the F31 would be fun if you can live with the accommodation and you can find somewhere reasonable to keep it..
 

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When you decide on a maximum draft don't forget the possibility that sooner or later there will be a little voice whispering in your ear" Why don't we go to the Bahamas?"
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, yes definitely under 5', otherwise I'll never venture anywhere without stressing it. F31 looks like great fun, but not our style. I get my little speed kicks on a Hobie when I need that fix. For this purpose, we're looking at something 30-32 size (Catalina, Hunter, Benneteau, etc.). Cockpit roominess and walk-thru transoms are a must have (we dive, snorkel and swim a lot...reef fishing too). I know that rules out older models of really great boats, but I know what the family wants. Comfy quarters enough for 3 (wife, son and myself), but willing to sacrifice a little cabin space for more topside comfort while cruising. So far, the C310 is high on our list, but not many available - none I think with center or dagger boards.

I like the idea of having choices of foresail for light winds. There are days (especially summer), when ghosting along is the best you can do (I've gotten stuck in the Hobie a time or two, and that's hard to do). Most of the boats I'm viewing do not have a sprit, not sure how that would work with a bigger genoa (150?), or even if that's enough.

Bahamas....yes, I hear the call. Deep crossing the gulf, then shallow on the Bahama bank. I need more big boat sailing time first!
 

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While Ft Lauderdale is a very nice place, for a sailor you will always be taking a day sail unless you take a long trip. For folks who work, their sailing is generally confined to weekends. Some Ft Lauderdale sailors keep their boats in Coconut Grove, about 30 miles from Ft Lauderdale, and use them as weekend homes. They come down on Fridays and sail off into Biscayne Bay for the weekend. With a boat that draws 5 feet you have lots of places to drop the hook. You can even get a good way to Key West on the inside. One needs to go North to the Pamlico Sound to get to the closest cursing ground on the East Coast to do that. If you don't have to much experience, Biscayne Bay is also a great place to get it.
 

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When I moved to Fort Lauderdale last year from Orlando I struggled with the same decision, eventually ending up deciding to keep my boat in Key Largo. It's a little over an hour away, but the sailing down there is great and there are so many places to dive, snorkel, and fish. Much less congested than the Grove, also, and the dockage is les than half the cost I would have paid in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.

I did look at several dockage opportunities on canals behind private homes in Fort Lauderdale area that were much cheaper than the marinas. Check out the ads on Craigslist or the Waterfront Times to find those.

I think the daysailing out of Port Everglades or Hillsboro would be great, though, and there is always Lake Sylvia to anchor in for the night to get the cruising experience if you decide to keep your boat in town.

Good luck with your search....this is a great area for sailing in general so whichever way you go you shouldn't have any trouble finding a way to enjoy your time on the water.
 

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Five feet or less draft, and mast height of 55 feet or less (Julia Tuttle Causeway). Unless you want to always go outside between Port Everglades and Government Cut. :)
 

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It would be hard to beat the sailing in Biscayne Bay and the keys. If I lived in that part of the country year round, that would be my first choices, and all the way to the Dry Tortugas when I need an adventuresome week or two.

Good luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks. We boat out of Hillsboro inlet and have spent many nights (power cruising) out on Lake Sylvia, Lake Boca, Peck Lake, etc., but I agree that beyond that, there's just not much more to do, especially with the Bahamas and the Keys so close. For us (at least initially since we both work and have an 11 year old in school), it will be about heading out early on weekends to do a bit of day sailing, rafting up with friends & dropping the hook at one of these lakes or docked back at the LHP marina (great music and food there), and spending a night or two.

Eventually, we'll find ourselves wanting to cruise down to Biscayne and the Keys. and when or if that becomes a routine, easy enough, we'll just move the boat to a marina down there. So for now, where to put the boat is not really a big concern.

So 5' or less draft for Keys. Okay, so on sailboat listings, I see a lot of boats in the 31' range I like that advertise around 4'8" plus/minus, but don't tell you what kind of keel (sounds like a wing). So unless there's a pic of it on blocks, I'm not sure if its a fin or wing keel with that depth. Any thoughts on what a boat of that length should draft with different keel designs?
 

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My Morgan 33 Out Island only draws 4 feet with a full keel. It sails great in both the bays and ocean, dry ride, and more interior space than most 41s. They're all over South Florida and some at bargain prices - check them out.

Gary :cool:
 
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