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Old 16-04-2007, 20:31   #1
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Thoughts on Big Centerboarders?

As I am looking at possible cruising boats, I have entertained a few centerboarders, such as the Allied Seabreeze. Moving parts below the waterline concern me. Also, there's always the possibility of forgetting to take the thing up when entering a shallow harbor (ouch!). But, I can see a few advantages.

Would be very interested in hearing a discussion of pros and cons. Opinions, experience, etc. ...

Many thanks
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Old 16-04-2007, 21:43   #2
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Is it necessary...

I built a small centreboarder some time ago, a Van de Stadt 6.5m minitonner.

It was nice to have where I built it (New Guinea) as I was able to sail over most coral reefs (10" draft).

However I always worried about the centreboard well and mechanism.

So if I was looking to buy one I would want a very reliable mechanism and I would only buy it if it suited my needs (shallow draft).
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Old 16-04-2007, 21:45   #3
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There are several good builders that have made excellent cruising yachts with a centerboard. My favorite is the Ovni range built by Alubat (unfortunately their site is only in French). I wouldn't hesitate to sail anywhere in any of these boats. One of their most famous customers is Jimmy Cornell, who took his Ovni 43 to Antarctica, amongst other places.

If you run into something on an Ovni with the board down, a small replaceable pin breaks and the board swings up. It should be the only damage done to the boat, so entering shallow harbors won't be a worry even if you do forget to raise the centerboard.
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Old 16-04-2007, 22:03   #4
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My previous boat was a "big" centerboard boat:

Bill Tripp JR. Bermuda racer.

The centerboard made the boat sail like a racehorse.

It was also an endless pain in the arse due to leaks from the trunk.
I finally hauled the boat and dismantled the interior to lift the board and re-bed the trunk.

Big deal and it took 6 weeks...

The draft with the board down was 8'6", board up 4'4"

Not a problem forgetting to pull the board up before entering a harbour as the board slides back and up:
With a 45% leading edge it gently comes up and gently goes back down if ya forget to crank it up and go shallow.
Not that I ever did of course.

A rather sad story was when we motored into some bay in Tortola years ago, when the markers was arse-backwards..(British system)

We missed the channel big time but due to the shallow draft with the board up we got away with it and barely touched...

Inside the little bay with a bar and restaurant, we anchored and had dinner on shore, quite pleasant it was.

But we felt guilty watching the sailboat that followed us in and got stuck on the reef because he had no centerboard, and thought I knew the channel.
He was there all night while we enjoyed steaks and margaritas in the restaurant with a waterfront view....

Still feel guilty 21 years later.

So, uh older centerboard boats can be high maintenance and I swore to God and the Devil that I would never own one ever again.
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Old 16-04-2007, 23:37   #5
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You might want to consider the thunk-thunk sound that the centreboard can make in light airs. Can be pretty annoying...
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Old 17-04-2007, 00:50   #6
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Timely topic for me since I am looking at a early 36-39' 80's vintage Irwin. Much of my sailing will be Pamlico and Albemarle sound. Little if any blue water. Seems that a shoal draft is a must for these waters. I assume Irwin is no different than the other centerboard vessels?
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Old 29-04-2007, 16:27   #7
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Some of the fully-crewed modern megayachts have not only centerboard keels but kick-up (hydraulic) rudders. Of course, the key here is "fully-crewed". It allows them to draw only 9 ft, let's say, instead of 15 feet, to get into all those skinny, sexy Bahamian ports.
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Old 29-04-2007, 18:56   #8
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I was a hairsbreadth away from building one of these : M.C.Y 46'
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Old 29-04-2007, 19:06   #9
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About two months too late. They have towed most of the derelicts away from our harbor. I could have provided you with photos that would have put the idea out of your mind. Not a real popular design out here, but of the dozen of so I have seen out of the water, the hull/trunk joint, and the crud unside the trunk was enough to convince me I do not want one. There are people who like them for the sailing characteristics, and the convenience, but the problems are not worth it to me. The addition of one more system, and several moving parts increases the likelyhood of failure of those parts.
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Old 30-04-2007, 00:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
As I am looking at possible cruising boats, I have entertained a few centerboarders, such as the Allied Seabreeze. Moving parts below the waterline concern me. Also, there's always the possibility of forgetting to take the thing up when entering a shallow harbor (ouch!). But, I can see a few advantages.

Would be very interested in hearing a discussion of pros and cons. Opinions, experience, etc. ...

Many thanks
Yo Neuman,

as long as no damage is done to the trunk/board, grounding with a centerboard down at least allows a chance of recovery (raise the board, and leave) which one does not enjoy with a fixed keel.

Although I can't say about the Seabreeze, there are gazillions of beautiful centerboarders cruising because of the genius of designers such as Ted Hood.

For simplicity, seaworthiness, structural integrity, maintenance, interior room, comfort and performance, I prefer the fixed keel of Terra Nova, my Freya 39. But I am stuck with the 6-foot draft!

If your cruising style requires an extremely shallow draft for your size boat, there are many successfull designs available.

best, andy
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:01   #11
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Originally Posted by SettingSail2009 View Post
My favorite is the Ovni range built by Alubat (unfortunately their site is only in French).

lifting keel

But itīs to late for you. (settingsail2009)

You have your...Fast...

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Old 08-08-2008, 09:55   #12
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I know of an Irwin 52 with a centerboard that went aground in the Bahamas. They had it towed backwards off the reef. And, you guessed it. As they were getting free, the centerboard dropped down and got ripped off causing plenty of damage.

I used to sail on a Trip 33 that had an electric raisable keel. I thought it was pretty sweet.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:24   #13
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We have a Philip Rhodes 60 FT with centerboard and it is perfect. we draw 1,75 m and 3.60 with the keel down, although we never have.
About the Ovni. It was my favorite too untill I saw my friends Ovni 36. What a disaster!!
Simply everything on that boat breaks or is likely to break. Unbelievable poor design and craftmenship. And you can ask my friends. Out of pure frustration, everything including his centerboard and even his retractable rudder gave up on him on a 6 year old boat. So much for Ovni, over and out.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:30   #14
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My CB is a 'dial a depth' which is great for trim. The downside is that it locks into any position, and there is no bump-up, only a crunch. The extra point of failure below the waterline is an issue, but worth the trade-off, IMO when I can glide into 4' of water.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:31   #15
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I was once captain on a 77 foot Alden ketch with a hydraulic centerboard. This monster drew only six feet with the board up, so we could get anywhere a much smaller boat could go. My heart was in my mouth every time we raised or lowered it, but it never actually failed. Still, I don't think I would want one on my own cruising boat: just another thing to worry about, and antifouling and scraping the barnacles out of the slot was very very difficult.
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