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Old 21-10-2021, 04:48   #1
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Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and brea

I’ve heard from people all over the forum saying that their keel is the “best” keel in heavy weather. People with lifting keels say “because there is no keel, the boat will drift sideways when hit by a wave”. People with full and fin keels say the extra weight down below helps prevent a capsize all together. I know their are many other things that come into play (freeboard, ballast etc). But with all things being the same, with keel type is the best in heavy weather and breaking seas?
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Old 21-10-2021, 05:12   #2
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

You've heard people say ----- some percentage of them were actually in heavy weather, of those, they all survived. There is no best. People circumnavigate in a very wide range of boat styles and lengths, and most do fine. Seamanship and luck are far more important in heavy weather than keel style.
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Old 21-10-2021, 05:17   #3
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

To add to what Paul said, if you're worrying about the boat, it's not just a question of keel design. It's about overall hull shape, durability of the hull (including windows, etc.) if being hit with breaking waves, how bad the conditions get before you can no longer actively sail or motor the boat and have to switch to passive tactics, etc.


People have gone through very bad weather in everything from heavy, full keel sailboats down to lightweight fin keels, to full displacement ballasted powerboats, to planing hull (no ballast) sport fishes. Survival tactics will look different for each type, as will the biggest points of concern in terms of construction and design.
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Old 21-10-2021, 07:17   #4
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

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Originally Posted by Arthurgifford View Post
But with all things being the same, with keel type is the best in heavy weather and breaking seas?
I fear none show significant advantage.

For ISO STIX (STability IndeX in ISO/EU rules), now with near 20 years of proven history, the main factor of seaworthiness is the length.

The base value of STIX is (Lhull + 2 Lwl) / 3, with correction factors.

It is very likely that a 60" , whatever keel, will behave better than a 40", whatever keel, in heavy weather and breaking seas.
And a 40" will be better than a 20".

In other words, take any boat. Upscale it by 10" in length : you will have a more seaworthy boat, whatever the initial boat...

It is a bit size of the boat vs size of the wave.
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Old 21-10-2021, 09:09   #5
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

My main concern would be how the keel behaves when Hove to in real bad seas. Every boat is different and there is no simple solution, but some hove to and stay there while others get pushed about or are very sensitivity to inputs and dont stay put very easily.



My second concern would be hitting bottom in remote poorly charted areas. I would prioritize boats with skeg hung rudders.


I personally sail a cutaway full keel, but if I where to do it again id look at a design with a partial keel (moulded in, not via keel bolts) with skeg hung rudder, happy middle ground between robustness, tracking and maneuverability.
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Old 21-10-2021, 09:18   #6
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Hi Arthur,

First I might comment that this issue has been through the mill several times. Do a search on the forum and you will find pages and pages of discussions mainly on full keel vs fin keel.

If you look at the data on round the world voyages and also look at voyages into the high latitudes the majority of the boats are fin or modified fin keel. Is that because that is the most common design today or because the sailors find that a better option? I think mainly the latter but regardless it's clear that fin keels will work.

On the other hand, plenty of sailors prefer full keels and hundreds have made major voyages over the years so that design will work as well.

One observation and this is not saying anything against experienced sailors that sail full keel boats. I have noticed that a lot of completely inexperienced boaters that read a lot of books, want to buy his/her first boat and sail solo around the world are fixated on full keel boats, strictly because they read it in a book.
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Old 21-10-2021, 09:30   #7
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

For heaving to in bad seas a full and long keel is always better, always more stable for keeping the boat in this position and mode. Surfing sideways down a wave will not prevent roling over, the boat will only stay longer in this dangerous phase. Daggerboard or extendable keels only have advantages for navigating shallow waters, and for nothing else.

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Old 21-10-2021, 09:35   #8
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

I own a true full-keel boat.

I like it for what it does well; tracks straight, heaves-to easily, is easy on the helm when balanced, protects rudder and prop during groundings.

I dislike it for what it does poorly; mainly turns like a Mack truck, so sucks in tight quarters. Also has a lot of wetted surface, so slower to get going and obviously slow in light airs. Also takes a lot more bottom paint!

When buying this boat I did not choose it for its keel. My preferred keel would be some sort of modified fin with a skeg-hung rudder. But as others have said, it's meaningless to look at a keel on its own. It's all part of the hull form and function. Look for well designed and well built boats. The keel is only one aspect of this full picture.
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Old 21-10-2021, 09:57   #9
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

It does not really matter. I personally prefer centreboard boats, mainly because you can go to more places. A well designed full keel boat is easier on the crew, because they can heave to stable and be quite comfortable in this condition. I have done this for 2 days in force 11 and 35'+ waves in Biscay. Fin keel boats need to be sailed. If you sail them they are just as safe. Well designed boats of course.

The boat is seldom the problem, but the crew. And reliance on autopilots. And do not underestimate the stress a storm at sea creates. Just the howling of the wind in the rigging could be enough to unnerve. And fatigue and lack of sleep. Keels are probably number 99 on the list of problems.
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Old 21-10-2021, 10:23   #10
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthurgifford View Post
I’ve heard from people all over the forum saying that their keel is the “best” keel in heavy weather. People with lifting keels say “because there is no keel, the boat will drift sideways when hit by a wave”. People with full and fin keels say the extra weight down below helps prevent a capsize all together. I know their are many other things that come into play (freeboard, ballast etc). But with all things being the same, with keel type is the best in heavy weather and breaking seas?
In the first place most of what you read is opinion. Based on the numbers of boats of all kinds of keels which survive heavy weather and complete circumnavigation, obviously any well found boat will do fine.

But the key point I'd like to make is that you should not let fear of heavy weather dominate your thinking. A heavy preponderance of your sailing will not be in heavy weather. I'd say that more than 99.9% of your days on the water will be other than heavy weather. Just normal sailing conditions. If you limit it to the kind of conditions you describe, it is very close to 100%. I've been sailing for 46 years. (35 years on this boat). I've crossed all the world's oceans and sailed in some of the areas prone to the worst weather. I've never been in conditions like you describe. I don't even worry about it. So, to select a boat which will be the "best" in those conditions is like a guy in Florida choosing a car based on how well it handles tundra conditions (what kind of car is best for not breaking through the permafrost?) Or the guy who chooses a house on how well it can withstand volcanic activity.

You are far better off looking at what boat is going to provide you with excellent sailing in the conditions you will presumably encounter 99% of the time. That is, winds from 0 to 25kts, occasionally to 35 knots, waves from tiny to moderate, never threatening to break over the boat or roll you. And whatever boat you choose, it will get you through if you ever hit that really bad stuff.

There is true joy in sailing. If you have a boat which can sail and you outfit it to make sailing easy and fun you can have many wonderful days on the water and at the helm. You should look forward to putting up the sails and sheeting in and just getting into a groove. Motoring is not the same as sailing. Windward ability is really useful. Maneuverability is really satisfying and gives you confidence around docks and other boats.

My own boat is a fin keel racer, set up for living aboard and ocean passage making. It is good in all conditions and it excels in bad weather when it can withstand waves and high winds with small sails up can still keep going. It will go to weather and beat off a lee shore. The boat gives us confidence. And when we get to port after a rough crossing we are not telling stories about “how we almost died”. Instead we’re saying, “That was nasty and we are sure glad to in.” How did the boat do? “Oh, the boat was fine.”
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Old 21-10-2021, 10:53   #11
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Here are some opinions I have about what makes a boat great for cruising and sailing:
  1. Keep the boat simple, don't try to pack it with everything you had in your house back home. You'll spend enough time fixing things with adding a lot of additional stuff to fix. It's a boat. Rejoice in the fact that it is a boat, not house. For those conveniences, stay home. Live a simple life on the water.
  2. Find a boat which is easy to sail, and I don't mean one with tons of "labor saving' devices which just add complexity and don't really make things much easier.
  3. For sailing, make sure it has well placed winches and friction free leads on the lines. Tacking or raising a sail should not be like a day at the gym using too big of weights.
  4. Keep the decks clear. Being at sea when waves hit, you don't want to be worrying about whether the kayak or jerry cans are going to get ripped off. You are better off in the cockpit dealing with wind and waves and steering etc, than going forward to secure lashings which have broken or stanchions which are bent.
  5. Maintain good paths for moving easily and quickly on deck. Getting out of the cockpit should be easy, not an obstacle course of ropes, canvas flaps and stainless steel tubes.
  6. Make sure you have good visibility from the cockpit, not blocked by dingies, life rafts, surfboards, and bundles of stuff that won't fit down below. Do you have to look through plastic windows?
  7. Keep weight out of the ends, that means avoid too many anchors and chain rodes in the bow and avoid the high structures in the back which add weight, windage and reduce stability.
  8. Look for a boat which is maneuverable and has performance is all points of sail

Below decks
  1. Hand holds and ways to secure yourself when the boat is bouncing around.
  2. sea berths near the middle of the boat on both sides, with lee cloths.
  3. Easy communication with the watch stander (so she can say, "Honey can you come up here, I don't like what I am seeing?" and you'll hear her.
  4. Safe galley with good room for cooking at sea and in port.
  5. Preference for storage areas not added berths and heads.
  6. Access to all mechanical stuff including tanks and removeable cabin soles. (there is nothing I cannot remove from my boat, including the engine, in four hours or less)
  7. A safe dry and comfortable place to navigate. You don't want to be poking you fingers through the spokes on your wheel in a rough and rainy night trying to make a new course on your chart plotter with a touch screen. Do it in a quiet and dry place below where you can see it clearly and can use a keyboard.

Notice that there is nothing about how well it will handle capsizing waves or brutal groundings?
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Old 21-10-2021, 11:33   #12
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthurgifford View Post
I’ve heard from people all over the forum saying that their keel is the “best” keel in heavy weather. People with lifting keels say “because there is no keel, the boat will drift sideways when hit by a wave”. People with full and fin keels say the extra weight down below helps prevent a capsize all together. I know their are many other things that come into play (freeboard, ballast etc). But with all things being the same, with keel type is the best in heavy weather and breaking seas?
Heavy encapsulated, long keel.
For comfort, when Hove to.
Not the best in up wind.
In less you have lots of wind.
Then it's up to you.
But stable.
SV Cloud Duster
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Old 21-10-2021, 11:36   #13
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
A safe dry and comfortable place to navigate. You don't want to be poking you fingers through the spokes on your wheel in a rough and rainy night trying to make a new course on your chart plotter with a touch screen. Do it in a quiet and dry place below where you can see it clearly and can use a keyboard.
That's a good point for electronics in general on a sailboat (and one that many boats fail at). Don't just put it where it fits, put it where it's actually useful to you. If you've got a networked setup, a plotter below is great for planning, then one at the helm to navigate with. But make sure the one at the helm is placed such that it can be easily seen, reached, etc. Same thing with engine controls (being able to position yourself to see and steer as needed when docking, etc. is key) and anything else you need to use while underway.
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Old 21-10-2021, 11:45   #14
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Super big plus for Wingssail!

That’s awesome advice. I really enjoyed reading the two posts you made.

Thank you

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Old 21-10-2021, 12:31   #15
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Re: Full keel, fin keel, or no keel (lifting keel/centerboard) for heavy weather and

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boatyarddog View Post
Heavy encapsulated, long keel.
For comfort, when Hove to.
Not the best in up wind.
In less you have lots of wind.
Then it's up to you.
But stable.
SV Cloud Duster
Boatyarddog, How much of your time is spent Hove To?

And I'm not exactly sure it is more comfortable in a heavy, encapsulated keel?

Nevermind "long keel", what makes an encapsulated keel more comfortable?

But anyhow, it's like I said in a previous post, do you choose your boat for being more comfortable while being hove to when you'll probably rarely have to be hove to? Wouldn't it make more sense choosing a boat which would be more comfortable all the rest of the time? Then you have to decide what make a boat more comfortable? I prefer a boat which has a nice easy motion in all points of sail, doesn't bury the bow and stop going when pointed into the waves, doesn't require the motor whenever the wind is ahead of the beam, and gets to the next port days earlier so I can be comfortably at anchor when my buddies are still trying to beat around that last point of land with the motor on going 2 knots.
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