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Old 23-06-2015, 13:20   #1
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Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Young guy here, been sailing and liveaboard on a Niagara 35 with the family for three years and I'm begining to look for my own boat. I will most likely start off with a used full keel fiberglass beacuse of finances but I am trying to find one that will meet my long term needs. I've delivered 30-42 foot fin keel and centerboard yachts and personally I prefer a full keel, but I have not been able to find many models in aluminum. Ted Brewer has a 30 foot cutter "Bulldog" and a 35 foot sloop if memory serves me but these are the only two I can find. Garcia, Ovni, Kanter, and Aluvat all have bluewater cruisers that are centerboard or fin keels. Reinke and other aluminum twin keel cruisers have caught my eye and I'd appreciate any other makers of full keel or twin keel aluminum sloops or cutters.

(Thought Processes Behind Specifications)
Unpainted Aluminum Hull: Little to no upkeap, tough light material. Stronger than fiberglass and don't have to worry about rusting out of steel. It's expensive and the layout has to be correct to prevent electrolosis (trace amounts of copper in aluminum water tanks, eh?)
27 to 38 foot sloop / cutter with lines going to aft cockpit: able to singlehand, planning on eventual circumnavigation
Full or Modified Full Keel - Solid time tested design. Enough said.
Twin Keel - Little experience with this design, but open since finding a sailboat is about design compromise. People defend it with Westerly, Reinke, and Puffin and it appears solid, but i'm curious about their integrity and self righting during heavy weather. Shallow draft and drying out is good but if I get caught in heavy weather (and no-one ever plans for it) I'd rather have the security that she could handle the storms.
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Old 23-06-2015, 13:39   #2
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

There was a guy who was trying to build some in England, Benford designs I think. But I think he gave up. Full keel, gaff cutters.

Cant recall the name. He advertised here for a bit.
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Old 23-06-2015, 13:46   #3
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Howdy.

I think what you are looking for will be rare, but not as rare as looking for a "Full Keel Carbon Fiber Hull with a Barn Door Rudder Yawl."

Aluminum seems to go to one of three extremes:

1. Lightweight performance boats (of a certain earlier generation) with fin keels

2. Heavily built aluminum boats designed for high latitude sailing (e.g. expedition boats)

3. Very large yachts (and very expensive)

You could go to Yachtworld and enter a custom search for hull material Aluminum and then browse.

But there are some smaller full keel boats that are built in Aluminum and usually they are either homebuilt or One Offs, so more rare and harder to say "go look for this model." In that case you should look for the designer names (e.g. Bruce Roberts).

The one that comes to mind is the Thomas Colvin design "Saugeen Witch."

One of the forum members "Panope" has one built in Aluminum.

Another model I have seen in Aluminum is the Colvin "Gazelle." I saw one of those in aluminum in Florida that looks VERY nice. Last January, it was still listed for sale.

And, I have seen one low production Bruce Roberts "Spray" made up in aluminum. However it was one of about 12 boats made by that builder and according to the Bruce Roberts website it is a "knockoff" and stolen plans/design from Roberts (mentioned on his site).

I hope these comments help you.
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:01   #4
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Yeah I know what I am looking for is very specific. I have looked at yachtworld and many other broker sites and when I search by aluminum monohull it returns with centerboards or fins. I don't swinging and lifting keels; my philosophy is the less moving parts, the better (something I picked up from my father and grandfather who was in the Coastguard). Maybe I should reconsider the fin keel, especially if it has an attached rudder. I could not find that Benford, save a designer who makes wood and steel. No aluminum though. Also, I will look into those designs you posted, thanks.
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:01   #5
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Northbound,

I see this is your first post on the forum. Welcome to posting in the forum.

There have been multiple threads discussing aluminum boats.

Here is one:
Owners opinions on aluminium boats?

To find others here on this forum, here is my tip for you:

My Favorite Tip to Any New Members of this Forum Looking for Fast Answers:

There have been threads posted on the forum discussing many topics at length, with differing opinions. But quickly finding the right thread and the right answer could take a while, if one just browses the forum.

Since you are relatively new to the forum, here is a friendly tip: Look at the green menu bar on the forum pages for the drop down "Search" menu. Click on that to drop down a list of search functions. From that drop down menu select the GOOGLE CUSTOM search feature and then enter several different descriptive terms for your topic of interest. That will do a Custom google search of this site and it is likely to find answers to your questions or results for you.

This is the best and fastest method I have found to find answers or opinions already in the forum archives.
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:06   #6
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

If the budget allowed, I would rather have a swing keel and swing (kick up) rudder if going to high latitudes.
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:12   #7
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

If you don't mind me asking, why the swing keel? I had the assumption that they handle worst in heavy weather, that they are more likely to be damaged or become inoperable, and that the main benefit they offered was groundings.
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:47   #8
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Brent Swain has a line of metal boats, the 36' is by far the most common. They can be built with either a long fin keel or a twin keel. The twin keels are very popular up in BC Canada because of the large tides and the ability to dry out. Most are built in steel but there are also aluminum hulls out there.

A couple suggestions - one, if you decide you'd rather build your own and make it the way you want it to be I'd suggest you look at Brent's boats. They are origami construction and go together so fast it's hard to believe. There is a guy named Alex Christie with a DVD on origami boat building which shows Brent, mostly by himself, with very few tools, putting together a 36' hull with decks, cabin, wheelhouse, cockpit, keels, etc in about 9 days. I've built a few boats and that DVD is amazing.

The other suggestion is to consider steel. Steel is a very low maintenance material if it is properly painted, which means blasted to white metal and then painted with enough coats of high quality epoxy underlayers and topcoated with 3 part poly. A good paint job will last for 25-30 years. It is the shoddy builds with lousy prep that give steel a bad name.

There will be a lot more steel boats that fit your requirements than aluminum ones.

Good luck on your search.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:07   #9
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Thanks Pauls. I have been seriously looking and researching for two months now and I have noticed that a lot of steel boats have the full keel. I was considering steel but ruled them out due to the rust factor. I will keep looking and do more research on the upkeep for steel. Appreciate it
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:09   #10
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by Northbound21 View Post
If you don't mind me asking, why the swing keel? I had the assumption that they handle worst in heavy weather, that they are more likely to be damaged or become inoperable, and that the main benefit they offered was groundings.
I am no naval architect and I don't claim to be an expert on boat designs either, so you should check with other sources of information too. But I will share what I know and think.

Every boat is a tradeoff or compromise of some kind.

Why have a Swing Keel in an Expedition Boat?

Since the high latitude areas of the world are not as frequently sailed or cruised, they are not as well charted in the coastal areas that are remote (where one might want to go exploring).

There, the risk of grounding on an unseen hard rock is a great danger.

So, having a keel and rudder that swing up when the boat hits some uncharted bit of hard stuff is going to give you a little more ability to get out of that spot with the least damage.

Who wants to have a broken rudder anywhere? No one. But, having one in a very remote place is going to be a worse risk with more likelihood of loss of boat etc. When you are really remote, there may be NOBODY available or possible to help you or rescue you. So, you use a boat that minimizes the risk wherever possible.

Anyway, that is how I see it.

There is another reason mentioned below.

You should consider how and why the designers of some of the best high latitude sailboats have opted for the swing keels and some with the swing/kick up rudders. Of course not all people who are "doing" the Northwest Passage get one. It is usually a matter of limited resources or using what they have.

IF I had the resources ($$$) and that (Arctic/Antarctic is where I wanted to go, I would prefer a boat that had those two features. Of course it would also be handy in other places too (I would use it in the Bahamas etc.).

Also, swing keels use gravity to put the keel down (dependable gravity). Some use very inexpensive and easily replaced electric winches to winch the keel to an up position when wanted. But, the true swing keel will "swing" up if it hits something. That is the key advantage of a "swing" over a lifting keel or centerboard that will not "swing." The leading edge of a swing keel goes in an arc as it goes up.

I suggest you also look for the following boats to get an idea of what they consider important. Of course there will be differences in those boats and owners etc. Here is a start:

Pelagic Expeditions Fleet Overview

Expedition Sail - Sailboat Seal

These two boats are among a few that I really admire (and I wish I had).

Naval Architect Michel Joubert also designed boats for the Arctic. One of his boats "Damien II" was famous. That design has been built in more boats and was influential. One of the CF forum members owns one: "Issuma." If you go to the ISSUMA blog you will see photos showing the keel in and out of the boat and how it is winched up etc. Good reading. By the way, as I recall, the owner of ISSUMA also single hands her.

Here is a clip written by the owner of ISSUMA:
"Issuma is a 21 ton, 15m (53 foot) steel staysail schooner with a lifting keel (all 4.5 tons of ballast are in the lifting keel). It was built in 1981 by the META yard in France, to Michel Joubert's Damien II design. The design was intended for Antarctic cruising. The idea of the lifting keel was both to be able to retract it inside the hull so ice could not grab it, and to be able to reduce the draft enough to motor into shallow waters to escape ice (which grounds in shallow water). I believe it is the 25th vessel built to that design, which is well-known in France."
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:21   #11
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Northbound,

Pauls has brought up the "Brent Boat" as an alternative.

There is one for sale now that is only $5,000. It is 31 feet, in steel, has been used for water sailing">blue water sailing, but is in need of a new engine and a repair to the mast. Whether that makes it a "great deal" or "uneconomical" is up to you. Located in sunny Mexico.

Look for it on Sailboat listings. It has dropped in price from $29K to just $5K due to the damage and non operable engine. As I recall, it did have a Monitor Windvane and some other cruising gear, but you should check that.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:22   #12
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

If you modify your wish to "long fin and skeg hung rudder " you may find more possibilities. Although, often aluminum boats are one-off and bigger. My friends had a Bob Perry designed, Paul Luke built 48 cutter.
I think you can find a full-ish keel or long fin in fiberglass in good shape that will fit your bill much easier. There's a reason Fiberglass is so popular.
IP 35 comes to mind, but the Alberg Classics are very sweet boats.

Aluminum is cool, but not without maintenance. Welds crack in high stress areas and need rewelded, Corrosion needs monitored all the time, Aluminum gets a dirty grey coating that gets on everything; sails, hands, lines etc. etc
I managed a shop that built aluminum boats. When we tested boats I would come back in with black hands. This gradually reduces over time. But go down to the marina and run your hands over a bare aluminum mast.
Steel is generally too heavy for smaller boats, but aluminum bend resistance is only about 1/3 of steel.. everything is a compromise.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:27   #13
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

That is a lot of really good information. The idea of a swing keel kicking up and preventing the damage a centerboard would take is nice, but I would think that a full keel would not suffer such damage; hence my preference. However, that quote from the Issuma about lifting it to prevent ice from closing in around it is genius, I never considered that even thought it seems so obvious. The Garcia Expedition 45, Onvi, Boreal 44, and others use a swing keel. What you are saying makes sense and it sounds like most expedition designers chose it for a good reason. I still prefer full keels from concept and experience but i'll look into the swing keels. I think I ruled them out due to inverse stability factors and the aforementioned problems fixing a damaged one while on the blue, but then again I do not have a thorough knowledge base to judge those assumptions.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:34   #14
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

I should add, I built a custom boat once, and finished another. In retrospect, I wish had went for a known quantity with a good reputation instead.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:36   #15
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Re: Full Keel Aluminum Cruiser

Steady Hand.....How did you find this? I have checked that site and many others off and on for months lol. Thank you so much. I'm going to contact the guy and find out more about the condition. Thanks to you, I may be moving up my timetable
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