I am very interested in a Canadian boat the CS 36 Merlin, however it has a wing keel. i have no experience. Opinions about taking a boat with a wing keel to Bermuda and beyond.
It is a well built boat.
Although we dont on a CS36 our Hunter 430 legend has a wing keel..It is our first boat not to have traditional keel. We have found her to be very responsive and easy to handle. We sail off the coast from San Diego north in winds at times up to 24-30 knots with 8'' seas. She feels very stable with no excessive pitch or roll
Like many things in sailing wing keels are a compromise. Properly designed they afford similar stability to a full depth fin but at the price of greater weight, greater drag, a slightly quicker motion and less windward ability. Adding to that problem many wing keels are not all that well designed. I am not familar with the CS Merlin''s keel.
Then there is the issue of running one aground. There is a perception that running on aground in mud or while heeled over can jamb you in a lot worse than with a conventional keel. In a BB discussion with people that have wing keels the mud problem seems to have more validity than the heeled over and grounding problem.
Still if you need shoal draft, a wing keel may be one of your few options.
If you''re headed to Bermuda, running into mud should not be a problem...
The wing keel does let you get into shallower water than a deeper fin would, without the problems of a centerboard. If you have a good reefing system, the reduced stability (due to the shorter lever arm of the keel) may not be too much of a drawback. Wing keels do tend to help boats track well and "feel" stable, so steering could be less tiring on long passages. A couple of long coastwise trips might give you a good idea of what to expect.