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Old 01-02-2014, 23:56   #1
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Keels

I am relatively new to sailing, and this forum. However, I am considering buying a boat this year. I have limited capital so it is likely that it will be an older boat as that is where I can get something I can afford. I have been doing some research and am reading that it is difficult to steer a full keel boat at low speed, especially when you are going backward and getting in/out of marinas. One article suggested it was actually dangerous due to the speed you had to attain in order to steer. I want to know how much of a problem this is from members that have owned/sailed them. Also, in comparison to the fin keel or other types of modified keels. I am getting up in age so whatever I buy will likely be the only boat I buy and while it may be a while, I eventually want to cross the Atlantic from West to East. In the meantime though it would be mostly short trips along the coast. I appreciate all input. Thanks.
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Old 02-02-2014, 02:36   #2
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Re: Keels

Hi Pat, welcome,
Without starting a debate on types of keels I think that you can learn to park any kind of sailboat no matter the keel type. That being said its much easier steering a fin keel spade rudder combo. When you are actually cruising its not such a big deal because one tends to hang out on the hook more than in marinas. If your crossing oceans then its no big deal either other than a full keel has more surface and therefore tends to be slower in lighter winds. There are still many older full keel boats out there crossing oceans and there are owners who love them. My advice would be to find a boat that makes your heart sing and is capable of doing what you want to do and then sneak a peek below to see what its got hanging down below it. Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:11   #3
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Re: Keels

Being relatively new to sailing a full keel boat may actually be the safest. Don't know your background but having absolutely no experience prior to purchasing my first boat I can only thank my lucky stars that it had a full keel. Full keel boats are generally strong reliable boats that will, more often than not, forgive the mistakes that you will make. A bulb keel or fin keel boat with a skeg hung rudder might not be so forgiving nor a centreboard for that matter.

Why do you need to back into the marina anyway? If necessary to plug in or hook up to water you can get hoses and cable made to any length desired.

What size boat are you looking to buy? I assume that if you plan to cross the Atlantic she will be at least 40 ' or more. Lot's of full keel boats have bowthrusters already installed, especially on anything larger and this makes backing your boat so much easier. Most marinas have people to handle lines when docking and anyway there is no harm in having to have a couple of go's at it before you get it right.

Yes these boats aren't as fast in light winds but at our age who's in a hurry. Good luck on any decision that you make and welcome to the world of sailing.
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:24   #4
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Re: Keels

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Pat.

See ➥ Keel Types - What Is Your Preference, and Why ?

And ➥ http://sailing.about.com/od/typesofs...Keelshapes.htm
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:43   #5
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Re: Keels

I think a full keeled boat is easier to handle in an anchorage. The wind affects it less so everything happens slower. When you stop, the boat hangs in place longer before blowing downwind or backwards, giving a singlehander time to walk forward and lower the anchor. I've actually had to put them in reverse in order to not dump that chain on top of the anchor, something I only have to do on my fin keel boat in a flat calm.

The same mellowness is also apparent when retrieving the anchor. One can just put her in gear and start pulling up the anchor, in all but the strongest wind she will motor straight ahead without someone on the helm. By contrast, my more modern boat really needs someone at the helm to keep steering and adjusting the throttle to keep us from wildly swinging back and forth on the anchor, and in any case we are not smoothly going straight ahead. Once the anchor is off the bottom on my boat, she immediately starts sailing away under bare poles. Which is annoying in a crowded anchorage, to have the chain still coming up but the boat wanting the bow to blow off and accelerate in some direction. My experience on a full keeled boat is that their bow will slowly fall off to one side and then they'll drift downwind slowly, in an approximation of being hove to or laying ahull, once the anchor is up. This made it easy to feel confident sailing on and off the anchor.

Of course, at sea I love how our new fin keel boat goes fast without even trying. In the Caribbean trades we are usually near 7.5 or 8 knots with little attention paid to sail trim. And she is as easy to control going backwards as she is forwards.

But I think in the transition to a modern design I didn't realize there are some things I like about a more traditional design. We usually anchor and I can see how this boat would be a handful or not induce confidence if I was newer to sailing or singlehanding.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:47   #6
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pirate Re: Keels

A full keel boat is simple enough to maneuver in close quarters once you get to know her.. think of reversing a car into a space.. then hook a caravan on the back.. still easy once you get used to how things respond...
Its not speed one needs.. its burst of thrust at appropriate moments to get momentum forward or back then hitting neutral and giving the rudder a chance to bite.. use the prop walk to advantage..
Also.. you do not need a 40+ft boat to cross the Atlantic safely.. unless your taking the whole family.. along with the cats, dogs and kitchen sink..
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:27   #7
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Re: Keels

My previous boat was a full keeler, and I found her fairly easy to maneuver. Well, except in reverse. Then she was a pig. The main thing you have to compensate for with a full keel is currents will affect her far more than a fin keel. Which, if you plan ahead properly, you can use them to your advantage.

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Old 02-02-2014, 09:57   #8
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Re: Keels

Although full keel boats have some slight inconveniences while docking, more often than not, it is the owner using that as an excuse for his lack of knowledge, experience and skill to maneuver the vessel.
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Old 02-02-2014, 11:56   #9
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Re: Keels

Most sailors can put boats with different types of keels in most slips. If the slip is for some reason difficult to get in or out of think about another slip if available. If you are not blessed with the ability to easily learn the necessary skills then go for a easy slip and a highly maneuverable boat. If you have not yet had enough experience to know where you stand try some rentals and practice docking. In open water even crossing oceans all well engineered and well built boats will do, including keel- less boats, it comes down to speed-comfort- and taste. Boats with fin-full keel and no keel make safe ocean passages. Safety depends more on the crew than on keel type.
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Old 02-02-2014, 12:58   #10
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Re: Keels

We have a Camper & Nicholson 58 foot modified full keel with skeg rudder and no thruster. The learning curve was really steep. It required I learn new patience I'd never known. For docking, you will also learn to use the breezes and prop-walk to your advantage. (use nature - don't fight it). They are harder to maneuver in tight quarters but way more stable and well behaved under sail. A fin keel and spade rudder will spin on its own keel.

If planning ocean transits, I would rather ride the full keel boat.

If you are interested in a capable passage maker you might consider a Camper Nicholson 35 or other model close to that size. Yahoo has a Camper group and one is presently listed. campernicholson@yahoogroups.com; on behalf of; roger.benton@icloud.com

https://www.google.com/search?q=camp...w=1119&bih=665
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:24   #11
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Re: Keels

Whatever boat you buy, you will make your learning curve easier if you hire an instructor for close quarter manuvering. A sailing instructor that is used to whatever size boat you end up with will be much better than a person that teaches on little racing boats. A few scratches on the topsides are not a disaster, and are almost standard when learning. Quality construction is more important than what type of keel you have. You will feel clumsy at first, and later you will only sometimes feel clumsy. We all go through it. Best of Luck. _____Grant.
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:46   #12
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Re: Keels

I learned on a full keel boat and practised using mooring buoys. I had to approach them from various angles and wind directions until I could do it right. The main thing I learned was "go slow" and take your time. The other big thing I learned was just how quick a boat can turn in a confined space.

In the end I docked and undocked in a very tight space in a marina simply by getting close enough to the pontoon to lasoo it and pull the boat the last few feet. It was not elegant, but it worked and nothing got dented or scratched and I will settle for that.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:06   #13
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Re: Keels

If you read Fin Keel boat are easier to dock just wait till you get in a current and adverse wind while docking. A Full Keel boat will also be a chore in those conditions however while sailing IMO a full keel will behave better with less rudder exposer than most fins will have.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:57   #14
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Re: Keels

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Originally Posted by undercutter View Post
Being relatively new to sailing a full keel boat may actually be the safest. Don't know your background but having absolutely no experience prior to purchasing my first boat I can only thank my lucky stars that it had a full keel. Full keel boats are generally strong reliable boats that will, more often than not, forgive the mistakes that you will make. A bulb keel or fin keel boat with a skeg hung rudder might not be so forgiving nor a centreboard for that matter. ]

[What size boat are you looking to buy? I assume that if you plan to cross the Atlantic she will be at least 40 ' or more.]

Yes these boats aren't as fast in light winds but at our age who's in a hurry. Good luck on any decision that you make and welcome to the world of sailing.
Thanks for your comments Undercutter. Those were my thoughts originally until I read about steering problem al slow speeds. But, as in anything in life there are always tradeoffs.

I realize a 40'+ boat is more comfortable and a little faster, but, my pocket-book will have to make the final decision.
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Old 03-02-2014, 11:12   #15
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Sailboats in general don't steer like your car. All combinations of wind / waves, hull type, keel type, rudder type, prop walk and arrangement of props / thrusters all have pros and cons.

You will learn to manouevre what you have. Get some dedicated manouevering lessons on the boat you buy from a knowledgable and experienced boat handler.

You'll be surprised how quickly you get to grips with the quirks of your own boat. Practice your manouevering regularly so that it becomes instinctive.
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