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Old 11-05-2011, 12:55   #1
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Southeast (US) Sailor - 6'6" Draft ?

I am currently searching for my next boat. Some of the boats on my list have deep drafts some up to 6'6". I plan to liveaboard in NC, in the future sail the caribbean(USVI and East), and evenentually relocate to somewhere in the Southeastern US(Charlestion, SC, St Augustine, Etc...)

So, am I crazy to be considering boats with this deep draft?

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Old 11-05-2011, 13:22   #2
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Re: Southeast(US) Sailor. 6'6" Draft?

I live in Eastern NC, and love my shallow draft trimaran for the local cruising. It has come in handy in numerous transits of the ICW, Keys, Belieze and Bahamas. If going up Guatemala's Rio Dulce, 6' is the max draft, and then, ONLY at high tide.

I regularly anchor out on the entire length of the ICW, when others have to get dockage every night. There are COUNTLESS advantages to shallow draft!

The Eastern Caribbean is the only place I've been where deep draft was not a problem, and even there I could usually anchor closer to shore, in a more protected spot. At sea, my 3' draft drops to 7', with the centerboard, and I get a gentler motion and windward ability as well. So... I think shallow draft has a LOT of advantages.

Around here, (the Neuse River, Oriental, Pamlico Sound, ICW etc.), the monohullers usually limit their boats to 5' draft. The tides are more driven by the wind than the moon, and on a windy day, from the right direction, the water just goes away! Also, due to lack of funding, the controlling depth of the ICW is now closer to 5' in areas. For your time here, and on the US east coast, as well as the shallow places I listed, you really limit your options with draft of 6' or over...

Perhaps a centerboarder?


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Old 11-05-2011, 13:28   #3
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Re: Southeast(US) Sailor. 6'6" Draft?

As a counter point, we keep our boat in the same marina as Mark (hi Mark). Our current boat draws 6' or 6'2", depending on who you talk to . Our previous boat draws 5'3". We have had lots of fun sailing with both, but keep a closer eye on things with the new boat.

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Old 12-05-2011, 11:44   #4

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Re: Southeast (US) Sailor - 6'6" Draft ?

I would suggest buying charts (even seecondhand old obsolete charts) of the areas most of interest to you. Then take a highliter and mark the six-foot contour lines. That's all off limits to you if you get a six-foot draft.

If it looks like that's no problem, no problem. You take a dinghy inside the lines.

If you've marked off too much want shoaler draft. (And I suspect you will.)
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:01   #5
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Re: Southeast (US) Sailor - 6'6" Draft ?

Mark, It seems to me that everyone, regardless of their draft, we poke about places near their limits and sometimes feel the bottom. We like to spend some times in the Florida Keys, Florida Gulf Coast and the Bahamas. Too much of this cruising area would be unavailable to us with more than a 5' draft and the same is true for much of the Carolinas and the Chesapeake too. If your thoughts are to keep the boat in a NC marina and cruise to the Caribbean, then the 6'+ draft could work, but if you ever plan to be a Southeastern gunkholer, it's a poor choice.
Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:17   #6
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Re: Southeast (US) Sailor - 6'6" Draft ?

We draw 7-6 and have sailed the entire east coast of US, some of the Bahamas and all of the Caribbean, east and west. However, we did miss out whole countries like Belize!

95% of the time 6-6 will not be a problem but the ICW and much of the Bahamas, the Keys and the western Caribbean will be difficult or off-limits.

Unless I was heading straight to the Caribbean I would stay at 6 ft or less. In fact I might buy a centerboard boat.


"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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