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Old 05-11-2020, 06:47   #1
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Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

I am curious about swing keels like the southerly line.

In an ocean scenario a large worry of mine would be getting knocked down and having the keel slam back into the trunk.

I have searched for information on this but the only thing I have found is heresy and nothing that resembles any real experience.

Out of curiosity I looked at the setup for a southerly swing keel to look for a down lock pin but I did not see such a thing, or if there was one installed, how it would be put in and out with the trunk being a solid glass case except for the few holes for inspections or parts to go through.

Any swing keel owners out there have experience with ocean transits or rough conditions, maybe experienced a knockdown?
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Old 05-11-2020, 06:58   #2
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Disclaimer - I don't have experience with swing keels or the ocean for that matter. But my highly uneducated guess would be that you would choose your storm tactic for the boat and gear you have. In this case, running before the storm or even with a drogue and the swing keel already up should still provide weighted ballast. Isn't the deeper keel for better windward performance/the added benefit of shoally cruising?
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Old 05-11-2020, 07:18   #3
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

for what Artey said about winching the keel up in conditions that pose a risk of a knockdown.

Before buying my Catalina 25, I read an article that said most swing keel owners would not consider the boat safe enough for significant offshore use, specifically due to the risk of losing the keel. The attachment to the boat is not as secure as a fixed keel. Having reinstalled my own swing keel after maintenance just a few days ago, I find the four bolts surprisingly small considering they are holding nearly a ton of iron. Some owners have taken theirs from the states to the Caribbean. I would be pretty reluctant myself.
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Old 05-11-2020, 07:29   #4
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

you could ask Distant Shore TV youtube chanel , they have been sailing southerly boats for some time.
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Old 05-11-2020, 07:57   #5
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Hmmm. No experience with swing keels per se, some with centerboards that are steel.

Artey, the deployed swing keel supplies a much greater arm for that ballast, and should be sufficient to right the boat in a knock down, whereas stored in the hull it very well might not, and that appears to be Spider's concern.

The points about attachment and not taking such boats into knock down weather is well taken, but you can get a knock down under moderate conditions by the simple strategy of not uncleating the mainsail sheet when coming about. Been there, done that, but in small boat, thank goodness.

But then, what is it that is going to cause the very heavy swing keel to retract in a knock down? At 90 degrees, flat on the water, that sucker is going to have serious friction with the side of the well, and zero force toward retracting. As you go mast down, red side up, it gradually gets more force to retract and less friction stay put. At 180 degrees it's free to retract. At that point, your day is already spoilt.

Keel boats can and do do 360 degree rolls, the most famous being the S/V Doubloon off Charleston in 1964. Actually did two complete rolls, and the first mate, tied to the helm (fortunately) is still sitting in the closet sucking his thumb as of 2020.

https://vault.si.com/vault/1964/06/0...and-over-again

But now, seriously, are you going to take a 25' boat into that stuff? Have you found a history of swing keel boats retracting keels in knock downs? I think you have imagined a scary situation that practically speaking does not exist. I've had those fantasies, but mine are fire scenarios, and the fire protection in my boat shows it.

I recommend that you go sailing, with usual prudence in not setting out in the midst of bad weather, understanding your boat's limitations, and reasonable prudence in releasing the mainsheet before crying out "Hard over." Have a good time.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:40   #6
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

The Southerly 110 keel has a 2" steel pin which goes through the keel box and holds the keel up when it's in the raised position to take the hydraulic pressure off the system. For ocean crossings or rough seas most people would insert the pin and then raise the keel so that it is locked against the pin.

In any event the keel system has a heck of a lot of ballast in the bottom plate (1.5t out of 2.5t total), so you're gonna come right side up whatever happens. In my opinion raising the keel before lying a hull would reduce the chance of a knock down anyway.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:51   #7
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

This is a good question and I have thought about this myself, and have some minor experience with a Sabre 34 Swing Keel in a storm.

First, I suspect that a lot of the answer depends upon the boat itself. Also, what are the similarities and differences between a swing keel and a retractable keel?

I was in a '94 Sabre 34 swing keel in 30 knots sustained gusting to 50. The seas were ten to fifteen feet (4.6 meters) and breaking. The storm lasted roughly two and a half days before it calmed to twenty knots, along with a significant calming of the seas to six or so feet (2 meters). We event hove to on a parachute sea anchor.

We initially had the keel deployed as we were heading to windward, but as it became obvious that we were heading into weather, we retracted the keel. At no time during the storm did we have the keel deployed.

We rode out the storm just fine and the keel was never an issue. My understanding is that the keel's purpose was for better windward performance and was not for purposes of stability. Based upon the handling of the vessel during the voyage, this seems correct as we sailed far more often without it than with it, even in many cases where we were heading to an extent to the wind. I could not feel any difference in her stability between the keel being up or down.

N.B. I am not terribly well versed in swing keels as my experience with swing keels is limited.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:52   #8
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

I'm thinking that it all depends on the specific boat. Southerly has certainly over engineered their keel given the whole structure surrounding it. The proof is in the number of boats sailing the world and few if any instances to report.

This cannot be said for all boats of this design. I'm inclined to believe that the numbers speak for themselves.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:52   #9
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

There are a lot of offshore swing keel/ centerboarder/ deriveur style boats sailing the oceans. Some are internally ballasted with lightweight centerboards, some have weighted centreboards. Many are aluminum, quite a few are built for high lattitude sailing, as is mine. Handy for beaching, shallow water sailing, rivers, etc. Mine has sailed the Atlantic and Pacific and is due to head north and back across the Atlantic in another couple of years. Lots is written about the benefits of such vessels. As long as they are well built (as with any yacht), they are great offshore boats. Locking pin on the board is a good idea although I've never used mine.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:56   #10
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Google Skip Novak. He is a high latitude expedition sailor who exalts swing keel boats. Of course his boat, Palegic, is a custom expedition boat, so it might not be a good comparison to a fiberglass Southerly.

Another point of reference are Ovni sailboats made by Alubat. The French are known for aluminum swing keel boats. Very few of these have been rolled. The ones that have have rolled upright without too much time turtled.

To Artey's point, you choose your storm tactic based on your boat. In high seas, lifting keel boats have the benefit of pulling the keel up, at which point, they don't trip over their own keel and flip on the face of waves.

Added benefits of swing keel boats are:
Reduced wetted area while sailing down wind.
Ability to get over reefs and into shallow more protected areas for hiding from weather.
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Old 05-11-2020, 09:21   #11
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Army Dave a Sabre does not have a swing keel. It is a fixed keel with a centerboard.
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Old 05-11-2020, 09:23   #12
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KadeyKrogen38 View Post
Army Dave a Sabre does not have a swing keel. It is a fixed keel with a centerboard.
The Sabre 34 offered both a fixed keel and a swing keel. The one I was on had the swing keel.
Edit: The Sabre 34 and the Sabre 34-2 both offered the option of a fix or swing keel.
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Old 05-11-2020, 09:28   #13
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KadeyKrogen38 View Post
Army Dave a Sabre does not have a swing keel. It is a fixed keel with a centerboard.
My apologies, you are correct. I was using the incorrect terminology. Oops
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Old 05-11-2020, 09:30   #14
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmyDaveNY View Post
This is a good question and I have thought about this myself, and have some minor experience with a Sabre 34 Swing Keel in a storm.

First, I suspect that a lot of the answer depends upon the boat itself. Also, what are the similarities and differences between a swing keel and a retractable keel?

I was in a '94 Sabre 34 swing keel in 30 knots sustained gusting to 50. The seas were ten to fifteen feet (4.6 meters) and breaking. The storm lasted roughly two and a half days before it calmed to twenty knots, along with a significant calming of the seas to six or so feet (2 meters). We event hove to on a parachute sea anchor.

We initially had the keel deployed as we were heading to windward, but as it became obvious that we were heading into weather, we retracted the keel. At no time during the storm did we have the keel deployed.

We rode out the storm just fine and the keel was never an issue. My understanding is that the keel's purpose was for better windward performance and was not for purposes of stability. Based upon the handling of the vessel during the voyage, this seems correct as we sailed far more often without it than with it, even in many cases where we were heading to an extent to the wind. I could not feel any difference in her stability between the keel being up or down.

N.B. I am not terribly well versed in swing keels as my experience with swing keels is limited.
I was in error, as the boat I mentioned was not a swing keel but a fixed keel with a centerboard. I apologize for the error.
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Old 05-11-2020, 09:42   #15
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Re: Anyone have ocean/offshore experience with swing keels?

Heavy swing keels that contribute a lot to the righting moment should be locked in the down position to avoid swinging in when overturned. But they should also give way when hitting an obstacle, and not free fall back in the down position when the obstacle is surpassed. Friction lock ? ...hard to gauge. Mechanical fuse plus schockabsorber ? I have seen cases where the freedownfalling after an obstacle damaged the lifting mechanism and could have damaged much more, including the hull itself.

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