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Old 16-04-2014, 09:32   #1
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Is This Boat Safe?

Hi everyone, I live in south Florida and have decided to switch from motorcycle rides to Sturgis on my Ultra Classic to sailing a boat in the keys and Bahamas. My only sailboat experience is years ago when I took some ASA classes followed by a few years sailing on a big freshwater lake. Been looking at boats online and researching. I've seen a 71 Westerly longbow that look nice as well as a 73 Bristol 30 that is priced cheaply. The reason I think is because her shoal draft swing keel has been permenantly glassed in the up position. That would give her a draft of 3.4 versus the fixed keel draft of 4.6 if I read the specs of both boats correctly.

My question to you experienced sailors is this boat safe enough to cross the Gulf Stream for the Bahamas? I know safe is a matter of overall boat quality, and experience of the crew but do you feel glassine up a centerboard to avoid maintenance issues is a good idea or no?

Conversely anyone have ideas about the longbow?

Thanks,
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Old 16-04-2014, 09:42   #2
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Re: Is this boat safe?

Which bright spark glassed a swing keel in the up position

My first thought would be what other "good ideas" did the previous owner come up with on the boat. My second thought would be how fast can I run away from this.

Take the Longbow, it probably reached the US by sailing across the Atlantic.

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Old 16-04-2014, 11:16   #3
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Re: Is this boat safe?

Centerboarders unless they are the swing keel variety don't have a lot more stability with the board down than up. That is because the board doesn't weigh a whole lot. A centerboarder has more ballast in the keel stub than the same boat with a conventional keel to compensate for the shallower depth. So the stability may not be so bad.

But having said all of the above, it won't sail to weather for **** with the centerboard up. Find another boat. That Westerly looks nice if priced right.

David
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Old 16-04-2014, 11:29   #4
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Another vote for the Westerly. The Bristol is useless to weather without the board.
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Old 16-04-2014, 11:44   #5
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

"My question to you experienced sailors is this boat safe enough to cross the Gulf Stream for the Bahamas?"
A rowboat or paddleboard is perfectly safe to get across. The question is, is the crew competent enough to know the limits of the vessel and the weather? That's the limiting factor on safety, not the boat so much.

There's a nautical term for someone who permanently changes the design of a boat by doing something like glassing up the centerboard: Butcher.

They might have had the best of reasons, but generally when you see something terribly odd and unusual on a boat, that's the clue to quote Monty Python: "Run Away! Run Away!"
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Old 16-04-2014, 11:44   #6
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Either boat is safe for the your planned cruising.

The Bristol won't do quite as well upwind without the centerboard (although there are many shoal draft boats sailing around without centerboards that would do the same or worse). The lack of the centerboard won't matter at all off the wind which is where you'll spend most of your sailing time.

When the Bristol was designed, unweighted centerboard's were advantageous in racing rules, they didn't actually help sailing performance much (although they were great for balancing the helm). Weighted lifting keels work much better for shoal draft because they move the weight lower. That's what you see today.

In the shallow waters you plan to sail, you may be more frequently limited by the extra 14" of draft in the Westerly than the weaker upwind performance of the Bristol.

If the board's still in the slot, it may not be hard to reopen it.

I'd agree with the concern that the Bristol's owner may have made other "creative" changes that you should discover before buying the boat.
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Old 16-04-2014, 12:28   #7
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

FWIW, my in-laws sailed around the world on a Tartan 37. Before they left they removed the centerboard. My father-in-law was a big racer and had raced and cruised the boat with the centerboard for 10 years before dropping it. He did not seem to miss it once it was gone.
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Old 16-04-2014, 17:30   #8
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Centerboard issue aside go for the westerly if all else is good with the boat. Some of the twin bilge keel westerly's were a bit slow but very seaworthy and had a good understanding about going on the hard. If there is an old Volvo motor be sure to get a Volvo mechanic to go over it before you buy. Also if you do not have much sailing experience do some coastal hopping and make shore you know your boat and can handle some waves and weather before you venture into the stream.
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Old 16-04-2014, 18:26   #9
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

I'm pretty sure a guy circumnavigated in a 14 foot boat, and there is a 73 year old man planning on doing it in a 10 footer!
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Old 16-04-2014, 18:39   #10
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
Either boat is safe for the your planned cruising.

The Bristol won't do quite as well upwind without the centerboard (although there are many shoal draft boats sailing around without centerboards that would do the same or worse). The lack of the centerboard won't matter at all off the wind which is where you'll spend most of your sailing time.

When the Bristol was designed, unweighted centerboard's were advantageous in racing rules, they didn't actually help sailing performance much (although they were great for balancing the helm). Weighted lifting keels work much better for shoal draft because they move the weight lower. That's what you see today.

In the shallow waters you plan to sail, you may be more frequently limited by the extra 14" of draft in the Westerly than the weaker upwind performance of the Bristol.

If the board's still in the slot, it may not be hard to reopen it.

I'd agree with the concern that the Bristol's owner may have made other "creative" changes that you should discover before buying the boat.
Our 58 is swing CB with modified full keel. It goes to weather very well with board up but, as you note, balance is better with it down. In the end, we rarely drop the board. (6'-8" up & 13' down). Keep spare parts so you can get the thing up if the cable breaks. The best set-up I've seen was a DIY design using a regular sheet winch in the wheel house to lift the board. A broken lift line was easily replaced by feeding line down and diving on the board. A CB would have to be massively heavy (and difficult to manage) in order to effect stability much. Ours weighs 300# and the boat is 36 tons.
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Old 17-04-2014, 11:52   #11
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

If I recall correctly, Wiley E planned on catching that roadrunner too.


Quote:
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I'm pretty sure a guy circumnavigated in a 14 foot boat, and there is a 73 year old man planning on doing it in a 10 footer!
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Old 17-04-2014, 13:39   #12
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don55 View Post
...I've seen a 71 Westerly longbow that look nice as well as a 73 Bristol 30 that is priced cheaply. The reason I think is because her shoal draft swing keel has been permenantly glassed in the up position...
You need to shop around, some more.
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Old 21-04-2014, 23:22   #13
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

I have seen people put bondo to hid holes on the bottom of boats maybe its hiding a bigger problem don't even think about buying that boat.
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Old 22-04-2014, 02:45   #14
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by youngson View Post
I'm pretty sure a guy circumnavigated in a 14 foot boat, and there is a 73 year old man planning on doing it in a 10 footer!
Makes more sense than a 10 year old in a 73 footer!
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Old 22-04-2014, 03:25   #15
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Re: Is This Boat Safe?

Hey, didn't the OP say it was a 'swing keel', not a centerboard? Not sure what he meant, but to me a swing keel incorporates all the ballast for the boat. Things like Catalina 22 and 25 fall into that category if I recall correctly. And I know that my old Cat-22 was pretty tender with the keel raised, so I think his query may well be a reasonable one.

Cheers,

Jim
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