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Old 10-06-2015, 10:48   #1
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Centerboard pros and cons?

I've been sailing my Catalina 22 around the bays in NW FL for a few years now and am planning to up-size soon. Being used to a swing keel on my boat, my eye was caught by an 86 Island Packet for sale that has a centerboard. The swing keel I've used for years is really handy for getting into shoal water and most hardware is easily accesible (even if I need to put the boat back on the trailer for repairs), which is important for dealing with the pivot pin. Wondering if anyone has experience with a centerboard on larger boats; maint issues, usability, etc?
thanks in advance

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Old 11-06-2015, 11:43   #2
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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

Have owned two Keel/centerboard boats. The first one had an issue with the board pendant getting eaten up by electrolysis. Had to haul and replace it at least once a year. Current boat has no issues like that but installed a synthetic line pendant which has removed any possible problem with electrolysis. Other than that, no other problems with boards. Haul outs have some issues as you have to let the boat hang in the straps overnight to paint the center board. Not a big thing unless you run into a yard that screws you charging an exorbitant few to do it. Board may occasionally make noise when deployed though have hardly noticed it under sail on either boat. Will definitely make noise if lowered at anchor but then why would you want the board down at anchor.

To me, the big advantage of a keel/center board boat is you don't have to drag around all that wetted surface of a deep keel when it's not needed. The big advantage of a deep keel is going hard on the wind. Once you crack off it's mainly just a bunch of lead slowing you down. Sail mostly with the board up except short tacking in confined areas where every last bit of ground made good is valuable. The rest of the time, the boat does just fine going to weather with the board up. Yes it does make more leeway than it's deep keeled brethren but not enough to bother me. Of course, you have to take into account I'm a cruiser enjoying sailing. Bashing into waves with the boat on its ear and wind and spray in the face is not my idea of fun.

Peter O.
'Ae'a, Pearson 35
'Ms American Pie', Sabre 28 Mark II
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Old 11-06-2015, 12:51   #3

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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

Pro: You can get into shallower places.

Con: Some day it will get stuck and be a real PITA to unstick.

My O'Day 20 had a centerboard which got stuck in the up position one winter, which necessitated me going underwater with a jumbo crowbar to unstick it.
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Old 11-06-2015, 14:05   #4
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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

I sailed , lived aboard and did day charters on one for thirteen years and never had any problems with it . In skinny water I would let it hang down 9 or 10 inches , it would announce when it was time to slow down . In the sixties and early seventies many ocean races were won by centerboard boats , not to be confused with lift keels .
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:16   #5
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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

Sailed a Sabre 38 centerboard for 18 years put of Annapolis along the East Coast/Bahamas. A great design and one of my dumber decisions was agreeing to sell.

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Old 24-06-2015, 16:45   #6
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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

I have been sailing an IP32 keel centerboard around here and over to the Bahamas for 10 years. I purchased the CB version to allow access to the dock behind my house. I have been pleasantly surprised at the lack of issues with the IP CB arrangement. Had a friend years back with a CB boat and he was always working on that CB or lifting gear.

I have stuck with the wire pendant but religious about zinc and bonding system. Painted the trunk and replaced the wire for the first time two years back.

When I was looking there were more 31 CBs for sale than 32s but the 32 represents a significant improvement in the IP evolution so went all the way to NJ to get the 32.

A happy camper and the 3 1/2' draft is a real plus around NW Florida.

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Old 24-06-2015, 19:11   #7
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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

I love my centerboard and kick up rudder.
18" draft with boards up.

One should try to "Die Young" as old as possible.
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Old 24-06-2015, 19:37   #8
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Re: Centerboard pros and cons?

The answer depends on How Big? We are 58 feet with Swing CB. Draft is 6'-8" up and 13 feet down. There is a 24VDC motor driving a 3-stage 300:1 reduction to a winch spool for the pennant. If anything fails, it may be stuck down. It can be operated my had but will require over an hour to hand crank the system. I would prefer, and I am considering adding a hand winch & tackle with fiber pennant. We are a modified full keel so the need to put the board down is rare.

If the board is small enough to be managed by hand (winch), then I say go for it. Make sure you are comfortable also with the way the pennant is sealed so that water does not slosh up past it. (happened to us).

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