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Old 13-10-2010, 16:37   #1
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Centerboards for Cruising ?

Looking at a boat that has a centerboard rather than a fixed keel (Tartan 34). My goal is to so some cruising and wondering how people feel about centerboards? I have never used one but would love to hear some thoughts. Pros, cons...anything.

Thanks!
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Old 13-10-2010, 16:47   #2
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Love em... just be careful when you use the board tho' it can act like a pivot and have you over real quick...
Excellent downwind with it all the way up....
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Old 13-10-2010, 16:55   #3
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I've had two centerboard vessels, a bristol 29.9 and my current Sabre 34,
for me on the east coast of the US it has worked great. I get into spots many deep keeled vessels can't . Keep the cable in good repair, drop and sand and paint the board and you should be pleased.
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Old 13-10-2010, 17:14   #4
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had a Hood 40 C/B.....

We cruised on a Hood 40 for two years. Believe she drew 4', board up. Great for the Bahamas and the western Caribbean.

Did get the centerboard stuck in the up position during the later part of our western Caribbean cruise. Spent two months or so that way and it was not a problem as we didn't cruise to weather. Easy fix when we got hauled back in Florida.

Good luck.
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Old 13-10-2010, 17:15   #5
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I've owned two center board boats, a Morgan 35 and my current Pearson 35. Find I don't use the centerboard all that much as it's really not an advantabe unless going fairly hard on the wind. Rest of the time it's tucked up in the well and not causing the drag of a deep keel boat. Didn't use the board at all in this summer's TransPac. I've heard of other cruisers who have just dispensed with the board entirely.

One caution, the shallow draft allows you to get further up the creek before you run aground, At least it's a shorter walk to shore.
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Old 13-10-2010, 17:25   #6
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Great advice. Any thoughts about them as serious ocean cruising boat? I just feel that there is a lot to go wrong...maybe im wrong? Also, is most of the weight generally in the board....or is itin the shallow fixed part of the board housing area? Really have no experience with these things.
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Old 13-10-2010, 17:25   #7
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I have a friend that sailed from Seattle to New Orleans 1-1/2yr ago aboard a Morgan 34 with centerboard. Other than a problem with the hose over the cable coming adrift (old hose and single hose clamp) and trying to sink the boat once, not any problems reported.

Before the Morgan he had a Shaw 24 with centerboard that he had brought out to Seattle from New Orleans and sailed there for 24yr. No problems with that boat.

In the Shaw he liked to bump tack when in narrow passages, when the board bumped bottom, time to tack.

Ballast will generally be in the fixed part of the hull. The board will be slightly weighted with lead, 100-200lb to keep it down against floatation of the board material and water pressure. A few very small boats use the board as ballast but that's not common as far as I know.

There are certainly centerboard boats that have been RTW. If I recall correctly the Shannon 37 is a centerboarder.

As far as suitablility goes, the board adds complexity to the boat and is a source of fatigue to the structure around it as it works in a seaway. For a well built boat that is a minor issue offshore, though not one to ignore. I would get hold of Tartan Owners Assoc, assuming there is one and see it any have been offshore a lot or if there is a history of problems.
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Old 13-10-2010, 17:36   #8
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Great advice. Any thoughts about them as serious ocean cruising boat? I just feel that there is a lot to go wrong...maybe im wrong? Also, is most of the weight generally in the board....or is itin the shallow fixed part of the board housing area? Really have no experience with these things.
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Old 13-10-2010, 18:04   #9
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Whats to go wrong more than any other boat... apart from the lifting system.... personally I would hardly... if ever... use the board except in emergencies such as lee shore in a rising wind to gain searoom by beating closer to the wind... otherwise it'd stay up... as for weaknesses they were more in the wooden boats than the GRP ones.... so many joints etc for the loads to work on....
But I would keep it maintained....
Someone I knew took out the drop keel and filled the slot with ballast and concrete
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Old 13-10-2010, 18:31   #10
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Most of the center board boats were/are CCA designs. These were usually way over built which is a comfort when out of sight of land.

The boards are typically just heavy enough to sink and be strong enough to take the side loads. Both my Pearson and the Morgan Board are fiber glass over foam with ballasted tips so they'll sink. Some boats like the early Allied Seabreaze had bronze boards which were relatively heavy. Since Allied went to an Aluminum board in later boats, the weight wasn't all that much of a deal. All the weight is in the keel which is typically formed around the center board well. That makes the center board attachment super stout. There are some swing keel and dagger board boats that do have weighted movable keels but they are a horse of an entirely different color.

There really isn't much to go wrong with a center board. The board pivots on a pin that is typically an 1" or more in diameter. The lifting mechanism is usually a tube with whatever pulleys are necessary to turn the cable built in. On my pearson, the cable tube is made out of bronze tubing and pulley housings which are pretty impervious. The lifting winch is simply two different sized pulleys for mechanical advantage. The larger rope side has the line wrapped around it. When you pull the line, the rotation of the pulley winds the board cable around the smaller pulley. It's a simple fitment made out of phenolic that any competent wood butcher should be able to cobble up if anything ever went wrong. My boat is over 40 years old and everything works without a problem. You do have to change the lifting cable occasionally. Thats a simple process when the boat is hauled. Just attach the new cable to the board and use the old cable as a messenger to pull the new cable through. The board does thump around when it's down but really not a big deal as it's so seldom down. It's dead quiet when it's up.

The T-34c is a great boat. I would have bought one if I could have found one with a tiller on the Left Coast. Get one with a tiller, btw. Wheels really really suck and don't work all that well with self steering vanes. The T-34c is a near identical hull to the deep keel S&S 34. Jessica Watson used an S&S 34 on her round the world sail. Believe it was the 2nd time around for that boat.

I've sailed my Pearson up and down the California Coast and to Hawaii. It's a great offshore boat. The big negative is the wheel and the large cockpit. Other than that, the boat has an easy motion and is a reasonably quick sailor especially off the wind with the board up. The T-34c should be a faster boat in light air with the fin keel. Sailed my Morgan from St Pete to the Chesapeake.
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Old 13-10-2010, 18:40   #11
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We're talking about cruising boats, right?

Unless one races, draft is much over-rated. The more draft, the more one is restricted while sailing in coastal and inland waters.

My 17-something-foot-LWL pocket cruiser had only two feet of draft, and I didn't feel particularly handicapped performance-wise while sailing close-hauled to windward. I didn't use the auxiliary engine in such circumstances either.

Deep keels provide stability, but so does beam. And beam provides greater boat-volume needed for cruising.

In my mind, cruising sailboats up to 45-foot in length with more than four feet of draft are seriously compromised.

Particularly if one uses the "iron gennie" while going to windward, one shouldn't be fearful of a centerboard cruiser. If I had one, I'd take out the centerboard if there was any problem with it since it is unnecessary for most such boats used for cruising.
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Old 13-10-2010, 18:48   #12
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Definite YES, unless your cruising plans are 99% offshore heavy weather sailing.

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Old 13-10-2010, 19:53   #13
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I sail a Tartan 27 that's had no centerboard for a very long time (at least two owners ago). Still goes upwind, just with a bit of a larger angle. Is the T34 also the full keel w/centerboard design?
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Old 13-10-2010, 20:14   #14
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Old 13-10-2010, 20:34   #15
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Fun with Centerboards

We have a Pearson 385 with a centerboard. In 10 years the only problem it ever had was ocasionally getting stuck in the trunk. The previous owner broke the board off while offshore crossing the Gulf of Mexico. It was banging on the hull so they cut the cable, consigned the board to the deep and carried on without it. No problem.
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