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Old 29-07-2014, 19:58   #1
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Deep VS Shoal Keel

Hi I have been dealing with a dealer and looking to purchase a 44Ds or a 439 Jeanneu the 439 has a shoal keel they are stating there is no difference when you are sailing I am in the Pacific Northwest in Vancouver and Seattle area is this true?
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Old 29-07-2014, 20:01   #2
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

A shorter keel gives one more flexibility as to what waters one can venture. If a cruiser, get the shorter keel; and if a racer, get the deeper keel for its superior upwind performance.

Oh no. We've four-foot draft but we're dragging in the bottom mud of Petaluma Slough/River:

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Old 29-07-2014, 20:18   #3
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

No, that is definitely not true. I own a boat with a shoal keel because it makes sense for my sailing area. If I was sailing in the Pacific Northwest I wouldn't even consider a shoal keel.
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Old 29-07-2014, 22:19   #4
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

You are not in an area where shoal draft is needed. You will lose some windward ability with a shallower keel. If you aren't a racer, probably would never miss it however.

Other than a habitual lack of wind this time of year, why don't you take both boats out for a sail and see if you notice any difference.
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Old 29-07-2014, 22:43   #5
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

A friend has the same boat (Catalina 400 MKII) as me, except his is a wing keel, mine is the deeper fin. He was sure my boat pointed better and accelerated faster and sailed with more momentum/speed. Where I sail (West Coast), I don't need the shoal draft capability. Where he sails (Chesapeake), I would not be able to go to many fine areas.
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Old 29-07-2014, 23:08   #6
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

I have been going over the trade offs for awhile now, and I am going with centerboard, no keel, all lead in the bilge. The boat has an AVS (angle of vanishing stability) of 140 degrees, and its actually too stiff.

Its not that hard to achieve.

So there is no overriding need for deep draft, fixed keel, no matter where you sail.

Of course, if you choose to limit yourself to boats on the market, it gets a little tougher to find such a boat, but they do exist. Look at the Presto 30 for a great example, but lots of boats built for the extremely tidal coastal waters and shallow canals of Europe have this configuration. We just don't often see them in the USA for some reason I cannot fathom.
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Old 30-07-2014, 00:34   #7
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

I've never seen a boat with a center board and internal ballast that was a great windward boat but they do make sense for cruising.

As to the original question of deep or shallow keel...it depends. If you are just sailing locally and plan to some weekend beer can racing then go with the deep keel as it will make a real difference in your windward leg.

If racing is not in the picture then you would be happy with either. The shallow keel would allow you into areas that you might not otherwise go.
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Old 30-07-2014, 05:08   #8
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

The Bruce King bilgeboard boats Hawkeye and Terrorist were amazing upwind boats, especially in a breeze where they truly dominated.

Upwind requires high lift to drag, and boards beat keels in this regard.

Upwind requires stability, and stability does not require deep ballast -- that is just one way to do it. Multihulls and dinghys do it other ways.

Presto 30 is a rocket upwind.
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Old 30-07-2014, 06:20   #9
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

A deeper keel (within reason) will ALWAYS sail better. This is just the nature of the way sailing works. Will it sail so much better that it makes a real difference? That's the question. And for the average cruiser the answer is probably "no." For you? Well, only you can be the judge of that.

Still, if you have no need for shallow draft, then there is no reason to shy away from a deep keel boat. I live on the west coast of Florida, and for me a shallow draft is an absolute MUST! If you are planning a lot of sailing in the Bahamas you'll be much happier with a shallow draft, too. But there are lots of places around the world where draft is just never an issue.

So it's really a question of where you plan to sail, and if you need a shallow draft. If so, get one. Or maybe you're the type who gets antsy if he isn't squeezing every last fraction of a knot of speed out of his boat. Then you'll want the deeper draft. Otherwise, don't worry about it.
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Old 30-07-2014, 06:32   #10
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

The center board boats I have experienced have all been offshore French boats and they do OK if sailed fast upwind but offshore you seldom want to sail fast upwind and when they slow down a bit they build up huge amounts of leeway. If a CB was really quick as a raceboat you would see them do well in major races but I have never heard of one doing well.
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Old 30-07-2014, 06:51   #11
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
....
If a CB was really quick as a raceboat you would see them do well in major races but I have never heard of one doing well.
What about Carleton Mitchell's S&S designed Finisterra for starters. First in the Bermuda race in '56, '58 and '60 and yet the smallest boat in the fleet.
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Old 30-07-2014, 07:39   #12
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

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The center board boats I have experienced have all been offshore French boats and they do OK if sailed fast upwind but offshore you seldom want to sail fast upwind and when they slow down a bit they build up huge amounts of leeway. If a CB was really quick as a raceboat you would see them do well in major races but I have never heard of one doing well.
Unless they intended for the race to be held in very shallow waters, why would anyone build a race boat with the added complexity of a centerboard or lifting keel when it's so much easier to just hang a deep, fixed keel on it?

About 25 years ago Lyman Morse built a few 49's that were centerboard boats with ballast poured in their bellies and supposedly had very good stability numbers and did very well upwind, while also being able to reduce drag while going downwind or lessen draft in shallow harbors or rivers. They weren't race boats, but did about as well upwind as most traditional keeled, cruising boats do. I was aboard one (beautiful boat!) but never sailed her.

But for boats most of us would take cruising, there is no free lunch while sailing. Deeper draft yields better sailing performance than a similar, shoal draft version, period. Most days it doesn't matter, and a novice boat buyer isn't likely to notice it until way after that initial test sail with the broker who is telling you there is no difference, but there is a difference and eventually you will be able to detect it. Maybe it will bother you and maybe not, and maybe you will notice it and it will bother you but you will still think it worthwhile for the benefits of getting into areas that are a foot or maybe two feet shallower than the deep draft version would allow.
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Old 30-07-2014, 08:50   #13
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

In addition to the upwind consideration, check the weights. The short keel version of our Jenneau 49DS weighs 400 kg more than the deep keel version. Presumably they make the short keel heavier to make up for some of the length difference. I think the added weight would make it a little slower in all conditions, although half a ton on a 15 ton total displacement is a pretty small difference.

We sail in the coastal waters of BC. We haven't had the boat long, and there have been a few occasions when the shorter keel would have been handy. But overall we're happy to have the longer keel.
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Old 30-07-2014, 09:01   #14
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

I stand corrected for some races in the 50's and 60's
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Old 30-07-2014, 09:08   #15
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Re: Deep VS Shoal Keel

I only draw 5 ft. But there are times when I would sell my soul to draw 4 ft
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