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Old 05-01-2012, 10:22   #1
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French Centerboarders

There has been some discussion of these boats here before - the deriveur integrale, true centerboarders, typically French.
I have come across 2 boats recently that I am interested in and wonder if anyone here has any pertinent info about either or, the designers or any comments.
Via 42 designed by Jean Louis Noir, about 30 or so professionally built
Dalite 36 designed by Jean Francois Andre, about a dozen or so also professionally built.
Anyone?
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:41   #2
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Re: French Centerboarders

The French like them because many of their harbors dry out or get quite shallow at low water. With the board up, it enables them to "beach" for lunch or to find a mooring in a harbor that would otherwise be too shallow for them. Some harbors also have locks at the entrance (to prevent a harbor from drying out at low tide, for example) whose doors have sills at the bottom. A centerboard enables boats to enter & leave in a bigger time window than a keel might. The lowered board provides decent upwind performance as well. Downwind, the raised board decreases wetted surface. These are some reasons that the DI boats are so popular in France.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:50   #3
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Re: French Centerboarders

Thanks, I know where they come from and why-was hoping there might be some firsthand experience and information as to these two boats (or others really) and their respective pros and cons
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:37   #4
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I own a tribal 42 in aluminium. Built in 1979 French design. Best boat by any measurable dimension that I have sailed for cruising.

See http://les.trisbal.free.fr/wiki/wakk...PagePrincipale for info

Or for our rebuild story see www.foolishsailor.com

It actually has two inline centreboards which are great for balancing sail trim downwind.

Have specific questions?
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:13   #5
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Re: French Centerboarders

All that Foolish sailer says, I have a a Trismus 37, the forerunner of the Trisbal, 2 inline boards. Not as windward sailing as a leadmine but not too bad either. It was built in 1979 also one of 36 Aluminium ones built by Chantier Aluminium et Techniques in Brittany. It now resides in New Zealand so has proven itself to be world capable yacht. I have seen a couple of Via's down here as well of the same era, one had had all the epoxy that covers the lead removed and replaced as it was starting to deteriorate.
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Old 09-01-2012, 13:11   #6
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To elaborate in more detail, this is only for my boat and design. We did spend two years looking at French boats, not centreboard specifically. We were looking at Pouevro (sp.), Metalu, Ovni, etc.

Pro:
Sailing performance

You can say whatever you want about the French but they are hardcore sailors and the "expedition class" aluminium boats that came from France during the 70s and 80s are fast, safe, and brilliantly designed.

Goes upwind 35degrees off the wind like a beast, we have new sails but still... So well in fact that it opens up whole new approaches to cruising for us as it does this with the comfort of a crushing boat.

With hull plan that is relatively flat in the back end under water when you lift the main centre board going down wind it is like unleashing a wild animal, she goes...And goes....and goes...

Safety
The hull is designed to be sea kindly and the fact that the centreboards come up is usefull when the **** really hits the fan as you can turn away from the wind and the cross seas cause the boat to slide instead of grab and it minimises the broach and roll problem. We have experienced this first hand.

Aluminium is so light that even though the old boats were built unbelievably robust, my boat has admiralty grade Ali in bow, 12mm, and "contact points" as well as 8mm up to rail yet still needed lead ballast because she was so light. We also have t stringers on 30 cm unlike e modern ovni which are every 75???

I feel safe and not worried about the boat breaking, the limit would be the crews ability...we have gone off the back of a wave all the way to the stern hung rudder and fallen half the hull length into a hole on the backside with no damage other than a seriously ringing mast and severely shaken crew...

Accesibilty
She pulls 1.4m boards up and 2.7 boards down. Means we can work upwind but still get into difficult entrances and across shallow bars

Low maintenance
With proper wiring, isolation transformers, etc. and attention to neighbours, I.e. steel boats and bad marinas, there is less maintenance than any other material type.

When buying it is very simple trully evaluate hull status with a decent surveyor using a sonogram ( can't remember name, measure hull thickness using sound waves). Our boat is 30 years old and has over 97 percent of her hull intact. This is important as there's a certain amount of magic and mystery with old Ali boats. If it is losing metal over time even with good and knowledgable owners it will continue with new owners. The surface of old Ali is more porous than new Ali and is a more complicated animal

That brings me to the cons

Cons
Some of the cons are the same as the pros

Maintenance
You can NOT take shortcuts with your wiring or wiring knowledge. You can literally sink an Ali boat with bad wiring. If you are not up to spec with floating potential, Iso transformers, etc. get yourself up to speed quickly

Need to understand and respect Ali. If someone tells you you can use the newest anti fouls on your hull because they just sold into a ovni owner. You need to understand and believe that this isn't true and know why. Have the guts to deal with scraping your hill for a season or however long until you can get to a supplier of proper anti foul. Seriously.

If you aren't an ali welder,as I am not regretfully, you have to haven't thick neck and strong spine. Ali welding is a bitch and everyone says they can while few really can. Especially welds under the waterline. Some examples of issues...

Most crap jobs an be dye tested to see if they are solid, however there are situations where a welder can weld a butt joint between two plates that passes the dye test but the weld itself is aerated and not stronger than peanut butter and if on a bench where you could grab it you could break it by hand ( please experienced welders comment!!!)

You are seeing a trend in the cons...owning an Ali boat requires self education, but don't most boats and materials?


We spent 2 years completely gutting our boat to the hull and rebuilding, re rigging, changing and welding the hull and redesigning the sail plan. As a result we really understand our boat and have had to do almost nothing to her in the last 4 years. And other than paint don't see any issues coming the near future.

Thats just my rubbish iPad brain dump, hope it helps
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Old 09-01-2012, 13:20   #7
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Re: French Centerboarders

Steve and Foolish,
Thanks for your postings-good stuff and further confirmation of all that I have heard from people who own any of the DI boats-strong, capable, good sailing boats, shoal benefits and offshore capabilities etc. Steve, I did hear that the first hulls of the approx 30 Via 42's had problems with water getting into the lead ballast box and causing reactions. Apparently, it was only those first 7 or 8 boats that had the problem, but definitely something to check.
I am in the US east coast and these boats are pretty uncommon unfortunately-I am looking around but the usual yachtworlds and the like don't bring much up. Thanks again for your comments and good luck with your terrific boats!
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Old 09-01-2012, 13:28   #8
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Ybw.com and boats.com for a start. You will likely have to travel out of the us as all Ali owners know it is not a great place to sell. Also if a boat has a vat paid the owner will likely sell it in the EU as it has more value. Most Ali boats are euro.

Places we looked:
Singapore and Langkawi , bottom of the milk run and many boat owners sell here instead of continuing

North east US

France

Obvious places like Med and Caribbean

My wife actually found our boat by not using a boat web site and googling daily for aluminium sailboat for sale and found ours in south Africa on a local website before it hit the major sites like boats.com.

This is my fourth cruising boat and 7th boat in total and I cant tell you how happy we are with her.

Good luck
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Old 09-01-2012, 14:55   #9
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Re: French Centerboarders

Thanks FS - good search advise. Are you going off sailing or still in boat projects? Cheers!
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Old 09-01-2012, 15:18   #10
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Re: French Centerboarders

We have met countless French centerboarders. Their popularity in France must be somehow related to local conditions in France. Probably it is very tidal or very shallow, or both.

I would not chose a centerboard only if seriously racing or sailing in areas where a severe knock-down is more a rule than an accident.

Elsewhere, I think, a cb boat has huge benefits & cruising potential.

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Old 11-01-2012, 19:59   #11
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Re: French Centerboarders

It is good for me to see this discussion of French (and, possibly, Dutch) centerboarders because I am trying to narrow down my choices in this area for a retirement cruising boat. I have a couple of questions for those with experience with these boats.
  • When beaching them what is the abrasion to the bottom paint? Assuming that this exposes the metal hull, what does this result in terms of localized electrolytic action?
  • Assuming that the bottom paint electrically isolates the hull from the seawater ground, is this a problem for radio communications? If necessary, how is this resolved?
  • Considering the remote possibility of a lightning strike to the mast, what is the effect of insulative bottom paint? Without insulative paint, I would believe that a lightning strike would travel to the hull and from there to the water thus avoiding the interior of the boat.
Thanks!
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Old 11-01-2012, 20:35   #12
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Re: French Centerboarders

What about a liftkeel rather than a CB? There is one designer in Holland specialised in CB & Liftkeel designs: Dick Zaal.
Not that cheap boats, far from that but he used 1st class yards, like Koopmans, Bloemsma,
and some other highly rep yards.
Compared to the Dutch, the French can learn a thing or two, although everything has its price.
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Old 12-01-2012, 04:50   #13
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Re: French Centerboarders

MacG --

What's the difference between a centerboard and lifting keel?

Thanks!
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Old 12-01-2012, 05:29   #14
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Re: French Centerboarders

  • When beaching them what is the abrasion to the bottom paint? Assuming that this exposes the metal hull, what does this result in terms of localized electrolytic action?
We have dried ours out on tidal flats before without pillings, just using sets of anchors and I dont know that we would again, a bit un-nerving - but that may just be my lack of experience doing this. I have also dried her out on pilings and it is much easier than my last boat with a keel.


Alumimum is vastly better uncoated/unpainted. The only reason I have any of the boat painted at all is for growth on the hull (anti-foul) and temperature control (white deck paint - ali is hot on the ol' feet). While it aint pretty to some (I love the look of aluminum) as much of the hull unpainted as is feasible is always the best.


We have many layers of anti-foul as most boats do and since we dont beach much havent had the issue losing bottom paint.


  • Assuming that the bottom paint electrically isolates the hull from the seawater ground, is this a problem for radio communications? If necessary, how is this resolved?
This would not be a valid assumption - the paint does not act as an insulator. But also - as you can read on the many SSB posts in this forum - on a metal boat it is actually the radiating surface of the metal hull that is above the water that is most important as the groundplane needs to reflect off the surface of the water - not pass through it. We have fantastic SSB transmission and reception - using an isolated backstay.

  • Considering the remote possibility of a lightning strike to the mast, what is the effect of insulative bottom paint? Without insulative paint, I would believe that a lightning strike would travel to the hull and from there to the water thus avoiding the interior of the boat.


I believe a metal boat acts similar to a faraday cage with regards to lightning - but would refer to other more experienced members of the forum on this one.
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Old 12-01-2012, 05:30   #15
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pirate Re: French Centerboarders

One has the bulk of the ballast in the drop keel... the other has a stub keel that holds the ballast...
as for beaching.. you don't sail onto the beach...
You anchor at a depth where your still floating at high water and then sit as it recedes... no abrasion..
sail onto beach.. abrasion and help needed to get of again if you do it at HW...
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