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Old 14-01-2014, 05:00   #1
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A good strong bottom please.....

I was out at the weekend helping out with some survey work in a powered boat (not my normal choice) and we were in very shallow water with sand underneath. Once or twice we just touched the bottom, but the boat owner had expected that to happen and commented that the boat had been built with a stronger than usual bottom and the occasional light bumps on sand or mud were not too worrying.

This got me thinking as I am on the lookout for a boat and I know a couple of incidents where fin keel boats hit the bottom or the gat in the marina and had a huge amount of damage. However I like the idea of bilge keelers which are designed to touch bottom and then sit on their keels.

Does that mean that bilge keelers have stronger bottoms than fin keels? Given the area I sail in - strong currents, large tidal range and river/estuaries - I would prefer an older boat with a stronger bottom. I was wondering if those of you with more experience than me would care to comment?
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Old 14-01-2014, 05:11   #2
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

It really doesn't have much to do with the type of keel, it has much more to do with who built the boat.
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Old 14-01-2014, 05:17   #3
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pirate Re: A good strong bottom please.....

I think you'll find that the production of bilge keelers is if not over.. is very limited these days..
That said.. when they were popular the boats were laid up much more heavily anyway and the load point was spread.. not all on a central point.. they were very popular on the S coast in places like Poole where 70% or more of the moorings were tidal.. however.. failures were known to happen when in sustained winter gales boats left out were constantly bouncing on the bottom as the tide rose and fell over a period of days..
If your looking for a bilge keeler I'd suggest the Westerly range.. good strong boats with 6ft headroom, excellent storage and good accommodation for the era.. Centaurs (26ft) Longbows/Berwicks (30ft) Konsorts etc.. not the prettiest topside but beautiful hull form that more than made up for it.. a lot were Laurent Giles designs
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Old 14-01-2014, 05:34   #4
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

Thanks!

A Westerly 26 footer is the sort of boat I have in mind. I want a smaller, older boat that I can use to improve my all-round boat skills and, if I do something silly and it goes under, the financial loss will be minimal.
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Old 14-01-2014, 17:02   #5
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

I have had occasion to use the 22 and 26 ft version of the English twin keel Westerly boats. I agree that they are strongly built. What you should be aware of is the fact that they are no speed demons and do not point well. I am not talking about the usual loss of sailing ability associated with a cruising boat vs high performance. The boats are sound and relatively safe( I personally consider the ability to point well a major safety factor not necessarily what others believe), so I would not own one. There are so many other good boats in the 29-30 foot range. Also I would point out, as happened to me ,going aground is an upright thing but getting off is very much harder with a twin keel. I realize a lot of this is a matter of personal taste just wanted you to think on my personal experience with these boats.
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Old 15-01-2014, 01:48   #6
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

Lack of performance is not really an issue for me as I want this boat for day sailing. I would be interested in knowing why you call pointing ability a safety issue rather than a convenience one.
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Old 15-01-2014, 04:28   #7
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pirate Re: A good strong bottom please.....

I'd say he's referring to a situation where your in a bay and a strong onshore breeze and if sea's build up you'll find it more difficult to beat out under sail alone.. and to an extent he's right.
These boats do not point as high as a fin or long keeled boat but its not as bad as he makes out... the 22 is a triple keeler.. basically a long shallow keel with bilge plates.. a few of these designs made a brief appearance in the 60's and early 70's but soon faded away as they were not much use in head winds and seas.. basically the 3 keels created a braking effect.. you'd get up speed then a wave would stop you dead more or less and you'd start again..
Like all types of boats there are good and bad designs..
I owned a triple and would not buy one again.. however the well designed twin keel is a different animal.. the pointing ability is maybe 5-10 degrees of a fin-long keel but a lot better than a catamaran...
It boils down to simple seamanship, know the limits of your vessel and yourself and don't put yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time... fin/mono/twin/triple or cat...
Enter and leave shallow tricky waters on rising tides.. check your weather.. check your type of bottom.. don't want to dry out in uneven rocky areas... you could fall over..
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Old 15-01-2014, 04:42   #8
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I'd say he's referring to a situation where your in a bay and a strong onshore breeze and if sea's build up you'll find it more difficult to beat out under sail alone.. and to an extent he's right.
I am OK with that. That is why we have engines. I feel no shame about using an engine to get out of a tricky spot.


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I owned a triple and would not buy one again..

Thank you for that. One class of boat to avoid...

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
however the well designed twin keel is a different animal.. the pointing ability is maybe 5-10 degrees of a fin-long keel but a lot better than a catamaran...

I know a couple of people who have bilge keels and their boats seem to go well enough.

Given that I will be sailing in sandy and muddy estuaries (NW England and N Wales) I just thought that since bilge keels were designed for these sort of conditions it would make sense to get one. I am not planning to cross the Atlantic or head for the Med.... yet!
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Old 15-01-2014, 11:45   #9
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

Boatman pretty much gave the answer to why pointing is a safety factor. How important that is to you depends on how and where you use your boat. For where and how I sail I would not give up pointing ability. If that is not important the 26 ft westerly is in my experience a sound and comfortable boat. I knew the guy(ED Steadman) who used to import them to the USA he gave me my first sailing lessons some 50+ years ago.
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Old 15-01-2014, 12:33   #10
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

Thank you.

Where I sail is extremely tidal and access to the marina is 2 hours either side of HW so unless I am planning a long day or an overnight I will not be going very far and if the wind is in the wrong direction then I will not be going out at all
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Old 15-01-2014, 12:59   #11
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

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I owned a triple and would not buy one again.. however the well designed twin keel is a different animal.. the pointing ability is maybe 5-10 degrees of a fin-long keel but a lot better than a catamaran...
How high did it point? I've heard lots of monohull sailors claim they can point a "lot better than a catamaran", but when I ask what AWA they sail at they seem not to know.... And strangely enough, on the water they don't seem to point all that high after all.

We generally sail to windward at 30 or 31 degrees apparent, on the autopilot. (The Simrad has a VMG optimiser, and usually it settles on 31 degrees for best VMG)

If it's light, 4-8 knots breeze, we'll sail lower, maybe 33 degrees.

So what wind angle did this bilge keeler sail at that was a lot better than 30 degrees?
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Old 15-01-2014, 13:11   #12
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pirate Re: A good strong bottom please.....

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How high did it point? I've heard lots of monohull sailors claim they can point a "lot better than a catamaran", but when I ask what AWA they sail at they seem not to know.... And strangely enough, on the water they don't seem to point all that high after all.

We generally sail to windward at 30 or 31 degrees apparent, on the autopilot. (The Simrad has a VMG optimiser, and usually it settles on 31 degrees for best VMG)

If it's light, 4-8 knots breeze, we'll sail lower, maybe 33 degrees.

So what wind angle did this bilge keeler sail at that was a lot better than 30 degrees?
You sail 30-33 degrees of the wind.. and what is the difference between your heading and your track over ground...
That's what counts... at the moment your claiming better performance than a mono fin..
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Old 15-01-2014, 13:13   #13
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

Owned a 1986 British built Cornish Crabber 24' for about 6years, very beautiful tough boat, bilge keels, spruce spars with tanbark sails, would only draw a little over 2' with the iron centerboard up, gaffed rigged replica of the fishing smacks of days of old, paid about 19k US for her. IMHO much prettier boat that any Westerly I have ever seen, would regularly ground her out on sandbars. Nice for daysailing, long weekends, seaworthy.
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Old 15-01-2014, 13:16   #14
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

For a couple of years I lived in Solva, some few miles east of St. Davids along the coast in S/W Wales.

A friend was caretaker of a double-keel sailboat that was usually moored stern/aft in the river mouth/hourbor. She sat in the mud at low tide. But when the tide was a'flood in the early morn then man, we had some good times taking her out for a quick day sail! And come the eve there was always good bitter from the taps at the Royal George pub.

Sorry - I know that doesn't help with your question but wow, sure brought back great memories!

James
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Old 15-01-2014, 13:24   #15
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Re: A good strong bottom please.....

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You sail 30-33 degrees of the wind.. and what is the difference between your heading and your track over ground...
That's what counts... at the moment your claiming better performance than a mono fin..
We have a deep daggerboard, so not much leeway. Tacking angle will largely depend on how strong the wind is - difference between true and apparent wind angle. Usually we tack through about 95 - 100 degrees, but less if there's more breeze.

And yes I do claim better than any of the mono's I've encountered when sailing to windward.

We sail faster and higher. Leave them for dead. Only time mono's keep us honest is if it's very light and shifty.

BTW the cats in the AC were making around 18 knots VMG to windward. Which mono's do better than that?
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