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Old 29-12-2010, 10:57   #1
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Draft and its Benefits / Limitations

Hi All
First post on this forum, here goes.
I'm looking for what will be my 4th boat with the intended use of long distance cruising (Atlantic circuit). Without looking at the 'extremes of design', there seems to be variations in draft from 6 ft to 8ft within the 50 foot LOA range.
First question; will the '8ft' limit my cruising too dramatically on the western side of the Atlantic?
Second question; on a design/technical note, do 'modern designs' of keel/hull allow reduced draft without sacrificing upwind performance? For example; HR's new 64ft model with only a shade over 8 ft draft yet other HRs, also designed by GF (eg HR48) are 14 foot shorter but its draft is only 6 inches less. Will this be seen in lower 'pointing angle' and/or need to reef earlier?
Thanks
Dave
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Old 29-12-2010, 11:05   #2
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If by 'western atlantic' you mean the Carribean or the Florida Keys, then yes, of course, increased draft will limit you somewhat. 99% of marinas will be ok but you'll need to plan your aproach more carefully and watch those tides.
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Old 29-12-2010, 11:06   #3
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David:
More draft is almost always better in terms of performance and VMG. With a deeper keel you get a lower VCG for better stabilty and a better foil for going to weather. But you have to consider where you will sail the boat. I like to tell clients that "draft is a personal problem". But don't let anyone tell you that modern "shoal" keels can perform just as well as a nice deep fin. They may have a low VCG but they do not have the span and aspect ratio to give you the lift you need.

In the end it will be a decision made that will compromise the performance elements against the pragmatic elements.
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Old 29-12-2010, 11:33   #4
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Simon, thanks, your estimate of 99% - more than acceptable.

Bob, thank you for putting it so succinctly and confirming my thoughts - I guess you cannot get away from the laws of physics and as you say its a compromise between topography, performance and intended use. I'll enjoy wrestling with these as I make my choice.
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Old 29-12-2010, 11:40   #5
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I'm pretty sure that at the upper end of that range--8 1/2 feet--the answer will be far less than 99%, since you will need 10 feet for comfort. I'd get opinions from people with that draft. At 6 feet, few problems.
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Old 29-12-2010, 12:22   #6
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I've been living and cruising in Florida, USA waters for a year now, and of course chatting with everyone about the Fabulous Bahama's ... most of which require much less than my boat's 6'3" to visit! Our recent cruise to the FL Keys we were so frustrated by our draft limitations that we promptly started looking for a second "real" cruising boat upon our return: mid-30' range in length, Much less draft, full, or nearly full, keel, significantly less air draft than my current 62', APERTURE FOR THE PROP SO WE CAN MOTOR AT NIGHT THROUGH ALL THE FREAKIN' CRAB AND LOBSTER TRAPS, ... although I have less than no interest in owning another yacht built by Tayana, the Tayana 37 has many of the desirable features for which we were yearning on our windward slam north from the FL Keys last week.

My best friend is a naval architect and this is the hull of his boat:

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Name:	<a title=Haul out 18 April.jpg Views: 211 Size: 150.5 KB ID: 22349" style="margin: 2px" />

I LOVE the hull shape! At an optimum speed or surface conditions my hull slides into the water/next wave rather nicely, however last week it was smacking/slamming rather severely into the trough after our current wave. A SMACK onto the water after a wave is a common complaint I have heard from T-37 owners so at the moment my friend's hull shape is extremely desirable to me, as is his protected propeller, and I told him so. Here is his reply:

Please don't worry about having 'too much' draught - too much is always better than too little in the long run and grand scheme of things, especially when you are out in dirty weather and / or trying to claw to windward off a lee shore - then you want as much draught as possible. Those gunkholing harbours will just have to be upset because you are not visiting them.

He also assured me that most of the world can accept deep draft keels. So David1, depending on what country in which you live and your cruising intentions, a deep keel may or may not be your best option. In tight situations I have found that the shorter the keel the easier it is to turn the vessel ... however this is a rather irrelevant advantage in the open sea. Compromise , compromise.
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Old 29-12-2010, 13:21   #7
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Was reliably informed by a very experienced friend of mine (20 years at sea), that all the main marinas in the islands would accomodate such a draft. I'm pretty sure he ment the 'main' marinas and not the little out of the way places. I can't see you wanting to go to a minor fishing village / marina in a 50ft+ yacht anyway.

However, getting in to them will need a close eye on the chart and the depth sounder!
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Old 29-12-2010, 13:34   #8
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We draw 7ft-2inch and have spent 3 years cruising the US east coast, Caribbean and Bahamas. The only places we have had trouble with draft is the Bahama Banks and the coasts of Belize and Mexico.

The deep draft gives great performance and stability in heavy weather and we are content that we just can't visit every village in the Western Hemisphere.

The longer modified-fin-keel gives great directional stability which reduces the work of the autopilot.
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Old 31-12-2010, 08:35   #9
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Draft is a compromise decision that only you can make. We have been sailing around in an 8 ft draft boat for 15 years, including a circumnavigation and multiple trips from Trinidad to Maine with the seasons. The boat is fantastic at sea, but but our anchoring/marina options are limited in some areas, particularly Florida and the Bahamas. If you want to base your boat in Florida, run up and down the ICW, and sail only to the Bahamas, better get something with 6 ft or less.
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Old 01-01-2011, 07:18   #10
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Thanks for all the advice and your thougts on this.
I have just booked a one week charter in the US & B VIs so looking forward to the charter and seeing for myself.
Cheers Dave.
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Old 01-01-2011, 07:45   #11
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Cruisers typically motor when going to windward, so high close-hauled performance shouldn't be a high priority for most.
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Old 01-01-2011, 16:06   #12
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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Cruisers typically motor when going to windward, so high close-hauled performance shouldn't be a high priority for most.
Mark,

I think that you have things backwards here: if more cruising boats WOULD sail to windward, then "cruisers typically motor when going to windward" wouldn't be as prevalent!

I hear this argument frequently, usually prefaced by "gentlemen never sail to windward". Sounds good at the yacht club bar, but we've found lots of places we wanted to go that were to windward of us. Some of them were a long way to windward, like Bora Bora to San Francisco for instance: around 6300 rhumb line miles to windward. Hard to motor that far in most cruising yachts. We were sure glad that Insatiable I (a retired IOR one-tonner) did indeed sail well to windward with her 2.2 metre draft. Still wasn't a fun voyage, but we did sail the entire way (exclusive of entering/exiting Radio Bay in Hilo and so on).

Incidentally, we've been told that our draft (both in I-one and I-two) of 2.2 M was "too deep to be able to sail in Moreton Bay", or in general on the East coast of Australia. We have somehow managed to do just that off and on for the past 18 years. It does mean that we have to watch the tides to traverse skinny bits like the Broadwater (between Moreton Bay and Southport) or the Great Sandy Straights, and we run aground a little farther from shore than our shallow draft friends, but for us the tradeoffs are worth it. YMMV.

cheers,
Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Morning Cove, NSW, Oz
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Old 01-01-2011, 16:51   #13
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Originally Posted by David1 View Post
Thanks for all the advice and your thougts on this.
I have just booked a one week charter in the US & B VIs so looking forward to the charter and seeing for myself.
Cheers Dave.
That won't tell you anything. That's just one area.
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Old 01-01-2011, 17:12   #14
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Quote:
I have just booked a one week charter in the US & B VIs so looking forward to the charter and seeing for myself.
There is a compromise in your future that you can neither avoid or escape and you will make trade offs for what you want in a boat. Those desires change with experience and so draft and it's benefits get thrown into the mix of the boat you can buy, the boat you can afford and what you are willing toi sign for. It's not all the mythical boats there are in the sea. To have a discussion about the issues of draft is quite educational. There are probably another 100 topics that need to get digested too leading to many more. I like Bob Perry's statement that "draft is a personal problem."

Finding the right boat you'll enjoy and use a lot is a lot of personal problems. The idea clearly is to make it as personal as possible rather than attempting to make it an impersonal set of ratios and numbers.

So "seeing for myself" starts that process of finding out there are more questions you never thought about let alone asked. Answers often lead to more questions even when you think you found the right answer. There are far too few one right answers. It's probably a good sign when you get to that level. It should indicate some right minded thinking. Eventually you can get to "Draft is a personal problem."
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Old 01-01-2011, 18:04   #15
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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Cruisers typically motor when going to windward, so high close-hauled performance shouldn't be a high priority for most.
We've made the trip to Alaska and Mexico a few times now and it sure would be descourging if I knew I would have to motor for a 1000 miles or more into the wind.........
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