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Old 12-03-2014, 10:17   #1
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Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Who here has owned, or had experience with a centerboard on a 36+ footer? Would you own another, given the upkeep? Did the centerboard impede your sailing performance much?

What kind of routine, preventative maintenance needs to be done? Are there leakage issues to be addressed? Does it make a difference with warm, salt water versus colder fresh water environment?

Reason I ask, is that one of the local freshwater boats under consideration is a C/B. This boat is a late 80's vintage, and well cared for.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:28   #2
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Hi Julie
It can depend on the build quality of the boat and the previous owners maintenance.
If a good quality boat, like a Wauquiez, then the CB in the keel should be nice and tight, solidly constructed and of little problem at all. The steel used in the cable should be of high quality and the fittings done by a professional. This is something your surveyor should be able to determine.
I was able to let the CB go in fresh water for over 5 years without touching it. Less in salt.
Some people have suggested having a lengthy cable that you can cut a couple of feet off, ever other year (in salt) and re-attach. Others have replaced the steel cable with a high modulus line, such as Dyneema. Be careful to inspect for chaffing.
The thing with most K/CB boats is that they are one of the few designs that can sail well offshore and inshore. And have the shoal draft to get you in and out of more places. Most good K/CB designs (like all the Ted Hood ones) sail perfectly find on the keel alone. Not much use for the CB except going higher to windward and reducing leeward slippage at low speed.
I would not let it deter you from getting a good boat. In your region, you likely haul every winter, so that makes it easy to inspect and maintain, if need be. But, you probably would not even inspect every year, where you are, in fresh water with yearly haulout.
Hope this helps
John
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:39   #3
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Center boards don't impede your performance, they enhance it. We have a Little Harbor 38 and sail with the board down most of the time. About the only time we don't is on broad reaches and dead downwind, unless it's blowing. Then the board is down to help control the helm. Maintanence is minimal. Check the pennit every year and the hinge pin. The best part is when anchoring. We draw 4.4 with the board up (9.5 down) and can always find snug places to anchor in.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:42   #4
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Thanks for responding. It's on a S&S designed Tartan, so I'm assuming well designed.

What does the designed do to prevent water from intruding? Are there seals that must be examined? Sorry for the ignorance, having not seen one up close.
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Old 12-03-2014, 11:34   #5
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Thanks JulieMac for asking these questions. I am presently looking at a C&C 41 with a C/B. I too know very little about the maintenance issues needed. It seems they need special
attention as any malfunctions could be expensive.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:10   #6
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Owned a Columbia 33 for a number of years. Sailed it to Hawaii and back in the 70's. She was a boat designed around the CCA racing rule and had an aluminum centerboard. Structurally the hull was robust enough to have survived several hard groundings, with no damage to the board or trunk. The only two problems I had were the material. The aluminum had corrosion issues. And the board was designed to lower under it's own weight, instead of being winched down. This meant that it needed extra play and because of that it would wobble a bit and make noise when the boat rolled in an anchorage. With a full keel the boat would have drawn 6 feet, with the board it was 4.5'. In San Francisco Bay and in the Pacific it wasn't much of an advantage. The SS design and Tartan pedigree I'm sure make it much better designed and constructed than my old (1964 Columbia).
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Old 12-03-2014, 16:33   #7
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JulieMac View Post
Thanks for responding. It's on a S&S designed Tartan, so I'm assuming well designed.

What does the designed do to prevent water from intruding? Are there seals that must be examined? Sorry for the ignorance, having not seen one up close.
Hi JulieMac,
I own a Tartan 27 Yawl which has a CB. At first I was concerned about the extra maintenance item but it's really not a big deal considering the advantages

Cruising Buzzards Bay is awesome with the CB as I am not as worried when anchoring as I only draw a little over 3 feet...What this means is I have been able to anchor in filled harbors where other boats simply can't come close to...So I had grabbed the unique spots when the filled harbors on traditional deeper keeled boats could not...Also, when going through tight channels it allows me more room...General cruising wasn't as much a concern either opposed to my buddy's 28 footer who draws 6 feet

Performance wise, it allows me to balance the boat in a way that it pretty much sailed itself when the sails are set right and the wind and waves cooperate...I played around with its position many times depending on conditions so the more experience you have, the more you will learn about which is best for the conditions...When close hauled, you put it down all the way so that it sailed closer to the wind (not much)...

Maintenance wise, I lower it and paint it just like the bottom...Last year, I did not paint the trunk as I read and old wooden boat book where they did not paint the trunk, just the centerboard...The thinking was that it was not needed because the board being in it's trunk would make the trunk area caustic enough that marine growth was not possible...It seemed to work fine follow this theory for me last year

I did end up taking the board out last year because I had hit a rock with the board down (stupid me!) and it opened...I glassed, faired, and painted it and then put a thicker stainless pin on which is meant to rotate on so that the rocking side the side of would stop...It worked wonders as we no longer heard the trunk banging against the trunk walls while anchored or sailing...It could have been worse with a regular keel as this reef I went over would probably have destroyed my keel but since it was a CB, it just banged it and it retracted back when going over it...

It's housing/home is considered a trunk and does have a spot which is open to the bilge but on the Tartan, this is glassed in to the trunk with each side having a brass cap which cab be unscrewed in order to reach the pin that it rotates on...

As for how it lowers and how you raise it, it is done from the cockpit through a regular sheet which attaches to a block...inside the wall would be a wheel which this sheet goes around so it kind of works like a pulley...It's very simple stuff that anyone can fix if something goes wrong

I am planning on replacing the stainless wire the board is attached to (which attaches to the pulley) with something more like a synthetic...Reason is I am afraid the wheel will fray the stainless wire when winding and unwinding the the board...I'm thinking of using Dyneema as there seems to be less a chance of the pulley wheel fraying something pliable like Dyneema

What Tartan are you looking at? I am a big fan of them

Many great boats were made in CB...Some of my favorite "next" boats have a CB:
Pearson 35
Tartan 34
Bristol 35.5 (some do)
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Old 12-03-2014, 19:00   #8
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Have had two center board boats. The first was a Morgan 35 that had issues with electrolysis on the CB cable. Curiously, it was only the C/C cable had problems. Cable had to be changed every year. Not a big deal other than requiring an annual haul out. The new synthetic lines like Dyneema would make that a non issue, now

The second one is my current boat, a Pearson 35. The PO had used galvanized cable and it was still going strong, though getting a bit rusty, after 6 years. Replaced it with Dyneema and should be good for a very long time. There is a bit of slop in the board so it bangs around if left down at anchor with much wave action. Works fine underway, only use it going to weather, and not even aware that it's there.

Have only had two issues with the C/B. Ran the Morgan aground in ICW and small rocks got lodged in the well locking the board in the trunk. A little work with a screw driver dislodged the offending stones and board dropped free. Fortunately it was summer so didn't have to hire a diver to do the work. 2nd problem was with an unscrupulous yard here in Kona. They charged me a double haul out to let the boat hang in the slings overnight to paint the board. Every other yard I've hauled a C/B boat in would hang the boat in the travel lift slings the last thing in the day before launch so I could paint the board then drop me in the water first thing in the morning. Doesn't tie up the travelift for any uses they may have had for it. Gentry Marine here at Honokohau harbor charged me double for the haul out and didn't spring it on me till I was almost ready to launch. Told them about the need to hang in the straps overnight before we hauled and they said no problem. Really a rip as I didn't tie up the lift for more than a normal launch or cost them any money. Moral of the story, get it down in writing before you haul what, if anything, they are going to charge to hang for the C/B paint.
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Old 12-03-2014, 19:10   #9
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
They charged me a double haul out to let the boat hang in the slings overnight to paint the board. Every other yard I've used would use the travel lift high enough to drop the board so i could paint it at the end of the day before launch and then drop me in the water first thing in the morning for no extra charge.
Absolutely.!!
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Gentry Marine here at Honokohau harbor charged me double for the haul out and didn't spring it on me till I was almost ready to launch.
Can't believe that crap. What a bunch of AH's.
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Old 12-03-2014, 19:25   #10
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

A friend of mine with a swing keel yacht developed a system where he used a 4wd 12v tyre air compressor to force the water out of the keel case when at anchor or moored.

It requires an air tight keel case, so not all yachts could use this, but it seems a great way of reducing growth, electrolysis and corrosion.

One of those great ideas that I have not seen before.
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Old 12-03-2014, 19:57   #11
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Interesting. I wonder now about home brewing a hydraulic lift
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Old 12-03-2014, 22:09   #12
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

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What Tartan are you looking at? I am a big fan of them
Late 80's Tartan 40.
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Old 12-03-2014, 22:12   #13
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

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Center boards don't impede your performance, they enhance it. We have a Little Harbor 38 and sail with the board down most of the time. About the only time we don't is on broad reaches and dead downwind, unless it's blowing. Then the board is down to help control the helm. Maintanence is minimal. Check the pennit every year and the hinge pin. The best part is when anchoring. We draw 4.4 with the board up (9.5 down) and can always find snug places to anchor in.
Are you finding that while it's up, the boat is not sailing nearly as well as a shoal or standard keel? The shoal keel boat we're looking at only has another 6" on the C/B boat with it's board up. When the board is down, it's another couple of feet.
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Old 12-03-2014, 22:14   #14
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Have you guys noticed that while the board is down, you get some slapping or movement from side to side within the keel structure? If so, is this an adjustment that can be made only during a haul out?
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Old 12-03-2014, 23:58   #15
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Re: Centerboards- A maintenance nightmare, or no big deal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JulieMac View Post
Have you guys noticed that while the board is down, you get some slapping or movement from side to side within the keel structure? If so, is this an adjustment that can be made only during a haul out?
You may want to wench up on the rope a little when sailing, but I know mine didn't move, and if it was me I would have it inspected by myself.
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