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Old 05-04-2018, 22:04   #1
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How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

Greetings, I am new to all of this and tried to search the forum but couldn't find what I was looking for.

I will be purchasing my first boat next year, as a full-time liveaboard. I live in Florida and plan to spend quite a bit of time in the Caribbean. So naturally, a shallow draft keel is a benefit there. But when I retire in 12 years, could I comfortably cross the Atlantic in a Shallow Keel boat? Or would it be rough going in rough seas? I don't have any intentions of circumnavigation, But spending some time in the Med would be very appealing to me. So basically, I see myself spending 95% of my time in the Carib or cruising the Atlantic Coastline. 5% crossing the Atlantic once or twice.

EDIT: BTW, the boats in my target range are 10-15 years old, 37-40', most have winged keels (shoal draft versions). i.e. Beneteau, Jeanneau, Elan, Bavaria, etc...

Your collective thoughts and expertise is greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-04-2018, 22:31   #2
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

It will slightly affect your pointing ability, otherwise it is not a factor. Actually, if the ballast is higher up, the boat will be more comfortable in a seaway. Unless you expect to do a lot of racing, the shallow draft option is preferable for cruising.
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Old 06-04-2018, 01:11   #3
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

It's best to match the vessel to its mission. In the Caribbean, and especially in Florida, a deep keel will limit where you can go, or how close you can get to where you want to go. A shoal draft keel will affect your ability to point into the wind at the extreme angle of a beat, a consideration more relevant to racing than cruising. From your post, it seems that thin water is a definite plan, and ocean passages, a maybe; and if you should grow in the latter direction as a sailor, you can always sell, and buy a different vessel for blue water.
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Old 06-04-2018, 07:21   #4
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

Does the term "shoal" keel just mean shallow? If so, how shallow?

And are "bilge" and "twin" keel interchangeable?

I've been checking out the Westerlies (supposed to be great off-shore) so maybe it's a UK vs US language thing?
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Old 06-04-2018, 07:50   #5
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Does the term "shoal" keel just mean shallow? If so, how shallow?

And are "bilge" and "twin" keel interchangeable?

I've been checking out the Westerlies (supposed to be great off-shore) so maybe it's a UK vs US language thing?
Here's the way I see it:

"Shoal keel" can simply mean "less draft than comparable size boat or same model boat that has a deeper keel ." It is not a specific length or depth of keel. A boat may have a 5'6" draft and be considered a shoal draft model, if the manufacturer also makes the same boat with a 7' Keel.

Another boat design may be a full keel boat, with a relatively shallow draft of say 3'6" and be called "shoal draft" or "shallow draft."

I chose 6' as the maximum keel depth for the boats I profile and add to a thread I started that is focused on "Shallow Draft Boats." Many typical cruising boats (up to about 40') are 6' draft. Six feet may be too deep of a keel for comfortable cruising around some noted shallow areas of Florida and Bahamas. But that thread has many boats shown that are less than 6' draft.

Boats with Shallow Draft for Florida, Bahamas, Chesapeake

As I see it, "shoal draft" can be a vague term, but to me it practically means for most cruising Sailboats (up to about 40' LOA) boats a depth that is less than 6 feet, but could be as little as 3' on some cruising boats.

BUT a "shoal" may be deeper if the surrounding depth is greater., as noted on charts, and is of concern to larger vessels.

I see the terms "Bilge Keel" and "Twin Keel" used interchangeably in the US and brokerage listings around the world.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:13   #6
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

A well reputed shallow draft boat will be fine. I doubt you will notice much difference to weather on a fully loaded cruiser unless you love to bash your way to weather!
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:21   #7
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Does the term "shoal" keel just mean shallow? If so, how shallow?

And are "bilge" and "twin" keel interchangeable?

I've been checking out the Westerlies (supposed to be great off-shore) so maybe it's a UK vs US language thing?
I agree with Steadman, the terms are interchangeable. Except (you knew this was coming) using the term bilge keels give the impression of some 1960s monsterous design faux pas. Thick shallow keels not much use other than to stand the boat up on. Thankfully after a couple of decades designers reached a much more efficient design with aerofoil shapes, angled outwards and possibly toed in. The result is that unless you are racing around the cans against a fin keeled yacht, I doubt you could tell the difference just by sailing a modern twin keeled yacht without peering over the side.

Can't think of a reason not to go offshore, indeed you could say that more challenging conditions exist closer to land with shallows, tides, currents and funnelled winds.

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Old 06-04-2018, 08:28   #8
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

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A well reputed shallow draft boat will be fine. I doubt you will notice much difference to weather on a fully loaded cruiser unless you love to bash your way to weather!
Well love or not, while offshore passagemaking, that might just be the direction you're headed, right?
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:34   #9
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

Thanks to all for clarifying the terminology.

Links to relevant threads would be great.

Or specific twin-keel boat suggestions would be greatly appreciated, classic plastic oldies are fine, and especially if beam under 8'6", which usually means in the 25-28' range.

If derailing is a concern, post here instead Trailerable blue-ocean: exists?
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:41   #10
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

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Well love or not, while offshore passagemaking, that might just be the direction you're headed, right?
Yes, but you would probably steer a few degrees lower than optimal for convenience, and then it makes no difference.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:11   #11
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

Totally agree with most replies.
Sailing around the world we’ve been able to tuck deep into anchorages where many full keeled yachts rolled around on the periphery.
Crossing Oceans where comfort is premium there’s little or no advantage to a deep keel.
“Gentlemen don’t sail to weather”
Good luck with your quest!
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:22   #12
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

I've raced since my teens and came to love the pointing ability that a deep keel brings with it so I was reluctant to look at shoal draft boats when I decided to get into more cruising. then I found my hunter passage 42 and man was I hooked. her 4.5 draft wing keel helps her out point almost every boat I come across these days. six months ago I bought all new radial cut warp drive sails and now I couldn't be happier with the performance upwind. besides their lifting ability the wings contain a lot of the weight of the total ballast.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:38   #13
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

OP here, Thanks to all! Great info. I am very new to this and have yet to take my ASA courses (have 101&103 scheduled for early May). I'm not much interested in racing my home, but I was concerned that there may be a major performance issue in bad weather, or high winds. My thought was that a shallow keel may make the boat heel more in high winds. If it is not THAT big of an issue, then I will naturally, start looking at shallow keel boats! I think that it is almost an imperative in the caribbean, where there are vast stretches of ocean that aren't much deeper than 6-12 feet.

I have been looking over this forum for a month or so, and doing some research elsewhere, but have never seen this issue explored or explained. Based on this thread, a shoal draft seems the logical choice for me, and since it wouldn't really effect an occasional Atlantic crossing, then a shoal draft seem like a no-brainer!

Thanks everyone, for clearing this up for me.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:53   #14
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

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Originally Posted by danielamartindm View Post
It's best to match the vessel to its mission. In the Caribbean, and especially in Florida, a deep keel will limit where you can go, or how close you can get to where you want to go. A shoal draft keel will affect your ability to point into the wind at the extreme angle of a beat, a consideration more relevant to racing than cruising. From your post, it seems that thin water is a definite plan, and ocean passages, a maybe; and if you should grow in the latter direction as a sailor, you can always sell, and buy a different vessel for blue water.
Since you live in FL, as I do, I assume you have a shallow keel on your boat. Would you be comfortable crossing an ocean in your boat? I am trying to avoid repurchase later. I am planning to retire in 12 yrs, and would like to have the boat I intend to keep paid off by then.
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:29   #15
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Re: How much does a Shoal Draft Keel affect Blue water sailing?

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Originally Posted by WingRyder View Post
OP here, Thanks to all! Great info. I am very new to this and have yet to take my ASA courses (have 101&103 scheduled for early May). I'm not much interested in racing my home, but I was concerned that there may be a major performance issue in bad weather, or high winds. My thought was that a shallow keel may make the boat heel more in high winds. If it is not THAT big of an issue, then I will naturally, start looking at shallow keel boats! I think that it is almost an imperative in the caribbean, where there are vast stretches of ocean that aren't much deeper than 6-12 feet.

I have been looking over this forum for a month or so, and doing some research elsewhere, but have never seen this issue explored or explained. Based on this thread, a shoal draft seems the logical choice for me, and since it wouldn't really effect an occasional Atlantic crossing, then a shoal draft seem like a no-brainer!

Thanks everyone, for clearing this up for me.
whoa, even with all the new information at your disposal a shoal draft is far from a no brainer. perhaps I wasn't clear in my earlier post but it's the particular wing keel on my hunter 42 that works so well to weather. pick any old "no brainer" shoal draft keel at the risk of close hauled performance.
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