Hi Chris, keel
length is only one of many parameters that contribute to boat stability, so it's problematic to focus on just one factor when considering which boat to buy. Even the concept
of stability is problematic. Do you mean stable as in flat? If so, you need a multihull
. They're "stable" till they're not
. If you mean stable as in slower sea motion, then size matters (both keel and hull
, as well as form design). If you mean stable as in lower tendency to get knocked down, then again it comes back to hull
, keel and even rig design.
I guess what I'm saying is, I wouldn't focus on just one aspect. Find a boat that well designed, well built, does what you need it to do, and most importantly makes your heart beat a little faster.
Seven foot draft shouldn't pose significant problems -- certainly not on the PNW. Now, it is true that deeper keels will be a limiting factor in some areas. The Bahamas
is one are which purports to be a challenge for us deeper-draft boats (mine is 6'). I've not been there yet, but I accept I may not be able to get into all nooks and crannies. But that is true everywhere. Here on the Great Lakes
my 6' draft puts some anchorages
and harbours out of reach. And it means I sometimes can't anchor
as tight into shore as I'd like. So be it...
All boats are a collection of compromises. The trick is to understand what is important to you and your sailing family
, and to then find a boat that best fits those criteria. This is why I usually recommend that new sailors/boat owners first buy a solid, simple monohull
in the 25 to 32 foot range. Get one with all the basic systems (inboard engine
with cooker, plumbing
, electrical) and then get out and cruise
for a while. This boat will teach you what is really important for you and your crew.
Here are a couple of websites that list raw boat data. This first one lets you compare specs head-to-head.
Sail Calculator Pro v3.54 - 2800+ boats
While these other two let you search the database for various designs and then view their specs:
SailingJoy.com - Resources - Sailboat Specifications
Sailboatdata.com is the worlds largest sailboat database.
It's fun to compare specs, but this is in no way a replacement for actually getting out and cruising on various designs. Specs only tell a limited story. It's how they all fit together that makes each boat unique.