I stumbled on this thread, or tripped over it rather awhile ago, as it is large with an odd 400+ posts. The reason was that I was looking for comments or views on “Mobjack”, the search returned this thread.
Mpricer (Mark) who started this thread (OP=Original Poster) has been absent for 10 months. Not sure if his questions has been answered or not. However most threads benefit many other readers, not just the OP. It is for that reason that it may be wise to regroup, recap, for those who are considering long keel cruising boats, their benefits and if there are any negative aspects, or Mpricer put it.
Those who waded through all the posts, certainly would have noticed that there were many very good comments, many accolades from owners praising their own boats, even more distractions and sidetracks, and then some terse language between some posters.
First some facts as they have been mentioned:
Very few long-keeled yachts are been built commercially, except for maybe some on-offs. Island Packet
yachts (IP) are an exception.
Over the last 30-40 years or so none of the racing
boats have long keels
Insuring cruising boats with long keels is not cheaper (disclaimer: I have not checked this myself)
Old long keel boat do not
win races now (meaning complete course in fastest time), except on handicap.
Advantages of long keel boats:
Most (but certainly not all!) track well and are made easy to selfsteer
Rudder and prop are well protected:
When hitting something, damage is often limited therefore damage to keel, rudder
and prop are likely to be less when hitting something
When going over craypot ropes, The long keeled yacht does just that: going over, little or no chance getting caught on keel, prop or rudder
Most of the time there are deep bilges that can take some water
before it becomes a problem
When drying out, might be relatively easy to keep the mast
vertical (that is compared with a narrow/deep fin keel)
Disadvantages of long keel boats:
For approx. the same displacement
and length: they have more wetted surface
If sail plan is similar, boats with long keel will be slower
Needs a little more antifoul
Difficult to manoeuvre
etc is lot more difficult, including going astern
Racing around the buoy, ie tacking takes a lot more time and effort
I believe that is all there is.
All the remainder of the arguments are subjectives or are introducing more variables, and these arguments would apply to all
boats not just to long keelers. For instance:
Heavy: most older boats are built heavy, many older boats have long keels, therefore old boats with long keels tend to have a largish displacement/length ratio; an advantage could be:
the motion is more seakindly
one can load more gear
on such yacht, without influencing the performance too much (hehehe, one goes from ‘slow’ to ‘a bit slower’)
Narrow waist: Many older long-keel boats were narrowish, therefore
initial stability is low, boat is tender
, and not easy to live on board whilst sailing. Has anyone sailed a Herresfoff 53 ft Marco Polo? If you have, you will know what it is like….. however at the same time boats like that sail really well, just not comfortable when heeled that much.
not that much living space
Narrow ends: many older long-keelboats had narrow ends, therefore restricting usable living or storage
Draft: I don’t think it was mentioned in this thread as such, but long keelers have generally a shallower draft
compared with a fin keeler and shallow craft yachts don’t go as well to windward.
Price: generally long keelers are all older or/and homebuilt therefore cheaper
Many posts were spent on how well (or not) yachts could be loaded for cruising, but no-one mentioned any concrete figures. I would say that for 2 on board a 40ft plus boat should be able to carry 3500 kg or nearly 7000 lbs of stores, equipment
and liquids, see attachment for that. That includes, fuel
, genset, liferaft
, dinghy outboard
, groundtackle etc etc. If your requirements are different than I listed in the spreadsheet, please alter the figures to suit your purpose or boat.
So when you see a boat, fin or long keeled one, check how that one would go with such weight on board.
Note: if 3500 kg seems a lot to you, I travel lighter when camping using my pushbike or seakayak for transport, so I know how to travel light as well.
There is no doubt that many long keel sailboats from the 60s, 70s and even 80s were and still are superb sailing yachts and classic beauties. Freya 39 and Baba 40 come to mind. However there are just as many or even more long keelers that may sail not as well. And with "sailing well" I mean a real joy to sail, easily to trim, light on the helm
, forgiving, not necessarily fast.
Disclaimer: I am not naval architect, nor a world cruiser, but lived on board for 15 years, my longest passage
was 700 Nm, sail regularly 200-500 Nm in the Indian and Southern Ocean, but I have sailed many heavy long keelers, raced (and still do race) on many fin keelers, go out in wild weather
in sea rescue
boats (hmmm, have then 500 or 800 HP at my disposal), sailed cruising cats and own a ferro
long-keeler. Yes I know, being ferrro AND having a long keel means double demerit points for speed.
I am looking to upgrade my yacht. Generally looking at longish-fin-keelers, although just a Herreshoff Mobjack ketch
caught my attention. Let me re-read what I just wrote……