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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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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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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Discussion Starter #3
Giulietta;408401 In the summer said:
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #6
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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks for the exchange about aluminum boats. We looked at an OVNI 36 in our marina on Saturday, and I'm still impressed by how rugged and non-nonsense they are, but the overall design is very modern. The stepped, scoop stern and arch, for example, is very impressive.

If we have time, we might look at some used OVNIs as they come on the market. If things in the bilge cause corrosion problems, I'm certain that's its happened to someone else already. The authors in the Aluminum boat design link above say these claims are exaggerated, and they had "a coin" sit in their bilge for years that did nothing (perhaps because of the OVNI paint).

One other thing-- even new OVNIs are priced surprisingly well for a cruiser of its size. There are also compromises, but having a newer boat isn't always a bad idea. As we think about possible cruising areas, including Senegal and rivers with lots of shifting sand banks, the idea of a swing keel becomes more appealing.

 

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Jim,
I am not familiar with swing keels other than the one on my "mighty" Cal 21 (wished I'd come up with that one!). My keel is basically designed to be lowered and left there. It's not that difficult to rig the hoisting tackle and raise it and I'd certainly do so for serious gunkholing but, it would be a pain to sail it regularly with that gear rigged, though some do. I'd probably be motoring with it raised or partially raised.

My point being that I think you'd want a keel that can be easily raised in all conditions and that you will probably find that you want to raise it only to the extent you need for shallow water. It will cut down on the amount of leeway you make substantially...and my boat can make some serious leeway with it raised! If the boat is capable of being sailed with the keel retracted completely more's the better. The Southerly does not have any type of stub keel, as is my boat, and I'd be curious as to how she sails with minimal keel lowered. I'm guessing that full keel up is intended for motoring only.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thoughts?
Both the OVNI and the Southerly have hydralic systems for raising/lowering the keel (and manuCal backups). The OVNI is more like a centerboard.

Check out this link for the Shards discussion of how they sail with the keel:

After 5000 miles | None | Distant Shores

Bascially, they can sail with the keel at different heights, but so far they most like to have it all the way down at sea (nine feet) because they find the motion of the boat more comfortable. They do raise it some downwind. In marinas, they different heights for different docking manuevers, including letting the keel take the bottom like a parking break, and then lifting it.

I believe that Jimmy Cornell sailed his Ovni like a dinghy with the centerboard at different settings. He liked to use the center board as a depth sounder in shallow bays, lifting it when needed.
 

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Although I don't yet have a lot of experience with it, my Morgan 30 has a centreboard. It has a substantial keel, but with less than 4' draft it is excellent for gunkholing (ideal here on the Chesapeake Bay). The boat sails well with the centreboard up, but lowering it definitely improves ability to point up and, of course, reduces leeway.

I know that there are maintenance issues with this arrangement and the lifting gear on mine is going to need some work next season (which I expect to be a challenge!). However, as far as I can tell this would be the first major work on the lifting gear in the boat's 37 year life, so it seems to have lasted well......

Stuart
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I once looked at a Pearson 35:


It obviously has a centerboard, but it wouldn't be a boat to beach to dry out (unless you careened it).

I think your Mogan 30 is similar:


I also thought about a Tartan 37 with centerboard, but I noticed in the story of Tigger, a Tartan 37 that circumnavigated, that the owners simply glassed the centerboard up into the raised postion at one point because it caused more problems than it solved. Some have systems that fail, and others rattle quite a bit, etc.

By comparison, this is what parking an Ovni or Southerly might look like:




Hopefully, a newer boat like the Southerly or Ovni wouldn't have problems for awhile. Good luck with the Morgan-- she's a classic.
 

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I still have bad memories of using a handsaw to get boards free that barnacles had stuck in the up position :D
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Jim..OVNI here in cascais..want photos?

Alex
Thanks, Alex. I noticed one was in Portugal, but if it's this one:

2006 Alubat Ovni 435 Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

I might have a hard time raising the funds... :)

On Wednesday night we're going to hear Jimmy Cornell speak at the Cruising Association. He's moved on to a new boat, so it might be a good time to hear/ask his opinions again about the Ovni stability index numbers, the corrosion/paint questions, and the buying new vs. used question.

Our next steps might be to see if they display again at the London boat show. We've also heard there is one for Charter out of Southampton we could try if we got serious.

It's funny how I find the boats attractive, in a business-like sort of way:



Meanwhile, I'm hearing of price drops/discounts on other new boats, which could also affect the used market.

You should put in a bid on the one in Cascais. :)
 

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Jim. I have a steel boat and am in the process of learning the things any metal boat owner learns.

Aluminum has issues, of course, but they can be overcome. OVNI are among the most proven bluewater cruisers around, as are some custom steel jobs like Knox-Johnson's Suhaili, Pelagic, Moitessier's Joshua and so on.

They aren't always stylish, however...but that is not a big concern for the type of sailing they do.

I choose boats the same way I choose computers or tools: what do I wish to accomplish with them? If you want independence from shore, you go for a "systems" boat that has engine room access, tankage, arches, sail stowage, redundancies on redundancies, anchors out the wazoo, sea berths and probably few nods toward "gracious sailing".

If you want to do the coastal or the Caribbean thing, a production boat is great...and a swing keel production boat is better.

If you want to do distance sailing, fast sailing, and to have shore independence, and thin-water access plus the "safety feature" of being able to conceivably beach the boat without wrecking it, you narrow the list of possibles very quickly.

Mr. Cornell might be very interesting for you to speak with, because he's had plastic, steel and aluminum boats and moved gradually from "bulletproof" and "heavy" to "fast but metal", possibly the smallest percentage of boats made today.

Good luck.
 
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