Originally Posted by chuckr
WHAT!!! shoal draft don't sail well??? we sail a jeanneau
ds40 that use to have 4'11" draft and now a 5'2" draft (when she is really loaded down) and she sails great -- no idea where you sail but we have sailed her from miami
twice around the bahamas twice from maimi to mexico
to trinidad to antiqua to azores
and a lot of that is to windward -- she tracks well and sails like a champ
and it is clear that you have not been to the bahamas or if you have you have forgotten how shallow it is in a lot of places -- 6'6" (there is a shoal draft version at 5'5") - lots of places you simply can not go with that depth let alone the height of the hylas 46 at 63' she barely gets under the icw bridges --
That's the whole point of 63' and 64' rigs, to "barely" get under ICW bridges. As long as you make it under without ever hitting anything, do you really care about how much clearance you had? Unless you live along the ICW so need to pass under a bridge to get to the sea, I think this is probably a higher priority for some folks than it logically should be. I've sailed up and down the east coast
a few times but never via the inland waterway. I'd sort of like to do at least part of it once just to check out some of the towns along the way, but from what I've heard from friends who have done it, you can expect to do a whole lot of motoring and I prefer to sail. I had to motor
along the inland waterway in Florida
for a few hours at the beginning of a delivery
up the east coast and was more than ready to head
out after that short amount of time so don't know how I'd do in that environment
for day after day after weeks at a time. Also, even with a boat with 5' draft there will be many places along the ICW where the channel has shifted a little so you can expect to "touch bottom" every now and then. Some good friends in their 5'5" Baba 35 went aground on a falling tide in the mud so no structural worries. Their plan was to just put out an anchor and wait for the next high tide to motor
off, no big deal. But as the tide went out their boat gradually laid down facing towards the channel and along came a big, shoal draft ferry
boat putting out a sizeable wake which covered their deck
and filled their cockpit
with muddy water
. That was their ICW "last straw."
I have sailed in the Bahamas and you're right that it's pretty amazing how many harbors where there's a 6' bar you have to pass over to get inside or close to where you want to ultimately get to. But, for those harbors there seems to usually be an alternate anchorage a little outside so if you have a decent RIB
, it's really no problem to get to shore in just a couple of minutes.
Considering the whole US east coast and Caribbean
, except for in these 2 areas and all the time while underway at sea, a deeper draft boat will be more desirable than its shoal draft cousin, IMHO.
It's an individual choice, but before making the decision I think it's important to recognize that it IS a tradeoff with sailing performance and stability on one side, and convenience of access in a few localized areas on the other. Your shoal draft boat that "sails like a champ" isn't necessarily the wrong choice, depending on your cruising priorities, but it would sail even better if it had a deeper keel.