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Old 29-10-2020, 11:10   #16
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

After roughly 17 years sailing fin keel boats (minus a brief stint with a twin screw powerboat) and now the owner of a heavy displacement full keel, I'm compelled to jump into this discussion.

Maneuverability is a VERY different animal between them. I took for granted the "bite" that a spade rudder has and the ease with which fun keels pivot. Full keel boats (even with the helm hard over) curve on an arc- making the hard turn out of the slip a thing of the past. Backing, as others have said, is also a different proposition.

I'm leaning much more heavily on the "back and fill" method- with reasonable success. Making prop walk work FOR you becomes pretty essential as well.

The bottom line is, these boats are going to do what THEY are going to do. You aren't talking them out of it. The key seems to be to understand what they are going to favor, and figure out how to make those forces work for you.


So far I am absolutely LOVING the full keel- even if tacking and maneuvering are entirely different now. It's great to have the opportunity to learn something very different after 17 years of pretty much the same thing.
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Old 29-10-2020, 11:21   #17
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

It has taken me about six years to finally purchase a boat. I spent a lot of time at work, as I was approaching my retirement date, reading boat reviews, and wading through all of the debates on here, and over at Sailnet, about fin keels versus full keels, and everything in between.

The debate gets pretty crazy at times, with some people expressing some very extreme opinions. As diverse and confusing as some of the debate is, it helped me for my own opinion. You can tell who the crazies are.

The ones I like the most, are the people who say, "The fin keeled boats are safer in a storm, because they are faster and you can outrun the storm, and get to a safe port faster". Ha! LOL, like the difference between 6.5 and 7 knots are going to help you outrun a storm.

Based on my research, I settled on a Bristol 35.5 encapsulated fixed keel model. Some call it a fin keel, some call it an elongated fin keel, some people call it a cutaway abbreviated keel. It's a wide fin keel, that's probably twice the width of a Catalina 34 fin keel.

Some people told me that it will sail pretty much like a fin keel boat, some said it will be a little slower and a little less maneuverable. One person told me that I should expect it to sail just as slow and stodgy as a full keel boat (I think he was confusing the 35.5 with a different Bristol boat.).

At any rate, I bought my Bristol 35.5, based only on my extensive reading of reviews, and talking to other owners. I never had an opportunity to actually sail one. My initial experience with sailing my new boat, has me quite pleased and impressed with my choice.

She is pretty maneuverable, in and out of the slip and marina. She points pretty well, and tacks easily.

There was one afternoon, when I was teaching my son how to crew for me, and practicing tacking maneuvers.
The boat I had just sailed as a charter, a few weeks before buying my boat, was a Catalina 34 with a winged keel. There were times when the Catalina changed tack so slowly in light winds, that we got stuck in irons.

There was one of those days while training my son, when the wind died down to 1.5 knots in the afternoon and we were moving very slowly.

I warned my son, "We may not have enough wind and enough speed to do it, but let's try another tack".

I eased her off the wind a little bit, trying to get the most speed we could get, which was a barely noticeable difference. We brought her about, and released the working jib sheet. She was moving very slowly and I thought, (actually, I probably said it out loud, "No, I don't think she's gonna make it. Wait we're turning, we're turning. Oops no we're in irons, she stalling. Wait, wait she's still turning. Wait she's turning a little, maybe. Ooo ooo, the jib is passing over! Oops, she's slowing. I don't think we're going to make it. Wait! She caught wind! Yay trim the jib sheet. We did it! We're still sailing!"

It was pretty exciting and gave me a new appreciation for my new boat.
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Old 29-10-2020, 11:23   #18
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

Drcaptain:

What people have said in the preceding posts is all unassailable, but I think you need to delve further into boat behaviour than these answers will permit you to do.

Every boat ever built or designed was built or designed for a specific purpose. Therefore, to select a boat sensibly for YOUR purposes, you need to know and specify with some precision what YOUR purposes are. Let's paint with broad strokes for a moment: Are you a cruising man, or are you a racing man? Boats that suit cruising men are in concept and design entirely different from boats that suit racing men. Not to put too fine a point on that, but boats with FIN KEELS are boats for racing men, NOT for cruising men, although for a number of reasons that have to do with marketing and very little to do with naval architecture, the vast majority of boats you will find in the "new to you" market will be fin keeled boats.

That is precisely why you "felt like (you were) constantly fighting with the tiller and sail trim". That is how a racing man's boat is SUPPOSED to feel, and that is why racing boats are by and large unsuitable, or at least bloody awkward, for cruising.

The long and the short of it is that being on passage, when cruising, can be excruciatingly boring. In a well-mannered cruising boat there is nothing to do, and out of sight of land there is nothing to see. BOOOring! Therefore many people, so many that they dominate the market, go for racing boats rather than cruising boats just so they will have something to do - fighting the helm, yanking on this rope and that. When done right, in the right company, that can be tremendously exciting and satisfying. Whether or not YOU find it so depends on how desperate you are for an adrenalin rush :-). It can also be tremendously expensive even if you only race in minor local events such as the Swiftsure Race out of Victoria BC. Don't even think of racing for America's cup!

So let us know whether you want to be a cruising man or a racing man, and where you wish to sail since boats need to be designed for specific waters. Then we can make far sounder suggestions about what kind (and what make and model) of boat will suit your purposes. If you don't mind falling between chairs you are, of course, quite free to buy a boat designated "Cruiser/Racer". Still, better to know thine own self and buy a boat that is good at what YOU want it to do!

I hope that sets you to thinking :-)

All the best,

TrentePieds
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Old 29-10-2020, 12:05   #19
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

"i will gladly trade speed for comfort and ease."

Then find a nice yawl or ketch, or even a small schooner. Any well-designed sailing vessel with more than one mast should be able to be trimmed to sail herself on almost any point of sail except dead downwind. If you trim her right, helming can be limited to tacking and jibing; most of the "steering" is done with the sheets. Yes, sometimes you have to sacrifice outright speed and live with a bit of luff in the hoist, but that's the trade-off between "speed" and "comfort and ease." Now that I'm getting on in years, I won't own a boat that will not trim up properly and sail herself hands-off while I relax in the cockpit. I've sailed way too many sloops that trap you on the tiller or wheel, unable to let go for a second lest the boat round up and go all-aback. The key to comfort at sea is not the shape of the keel; it is the design of the sail plan.
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Old 29-10-2020, 12:07   #20
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

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Originally Posted by Training Wheels View Post
[ATTACH]226101

[emoji23]

Fin keels can stay upright too!
Rimas lives!
Having owned one of those I am astonished it didn't snap rtf off!
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Old 29-10-2020, 12:12   #21
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Yup. Full keel is great for going in straight. It tends to be easier on the helm when underway since it's not as responsive to small changes. But this also makes tight maneuvering harder.

I sail a full keel boat. When I sail friends' fin keel boats I find it rather exhausting. I lose attention for a few seconds and I'm off course! On my boat, once balanced, the boat doesn't wonder much at all.

But of course, marinas scare the shyte out of me. Docking is my nightmare ... which is probably why we anchor out most of the time .
Mike, I feel your "pain" (Morgan OI 41) directionally she's great but in a marina she's a "Bull in a china shop" I go in as slow as I can ( no faster than I'm willing to hit something) and still have control. Reversing out into a fairway is a "Crap-shoot" never seems to go the way I want! just the way she wants!
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Old 29-10-2020, 12:35   #22
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrentePieds View Post
Drcaptain:

What people have said in the preceding posts is all unassailable, but I think you need to delve further into boat behaviour than these answers will permit you to do.

Every boat ever built or designed was built or designed for a specific purpose. Therefore, to select a boat sensibly for YOUR purposes, you need to know and specify with some precision what YOUR purposes are. Let's paint with broad strokes for a moment: Are you a cruising man, or are you a racing man? Boats that suit cruising men are in concept and design entirely different from boats that suit racing men. Not to put too fine a point on that, but boats with FIN KEELS are boats for racing men, NOT for cruising men, although for a number of reasons that have to do with marketing and very little to do with naval architecture, the vast majority of boats you will find in the "new to you" market will be fin keeled boats.

That is precisely why you "felt like (you were) constantly fighting with the tiller and sail trim". That is how a racing man's boat is SUPPOSED to feel, and that is why racing boats are by and large unsuitable, or at least bloody awkward, for cruising.

The long and the short of it is that being on passage, when cruising, can be excruciatingly boring. In a well-mannered cruising boat there is nothing to do, and out of sight of land there is nothing to see. BOOOring! Therefore many people, so many that they dominate the market, go for racing boats rather than cruising boats just so they will have something to do - fighting the helm, yanking on this rope and that. When done right, in the right company, that can be tremendously exciting and satisfying. Whether or not YOU find it so depends on how desperate you are for an adrenalin rush :-). It can also be tremendously expensive even if you only race in minor local events such as the Swiftsure Race out of Victoria BC. Don't even think of racing for America's cup!

So let us know whether you want to be a cruising man or a racing man, and where you wish to sail since boats need to be designed for specific waters. Then we can make far sounder suggestions about what kind (and what make and model) of boat will suit your purposes. If you don't mind falling between chairs you are, of course, quite free to buy a boat designated "Cruiser/Racer". Still, better to know thine own self and buy a boat that is good at what YOU want it to do!

I hope that sets you to thinking :-)

All the best,

TrentePieds


Hmmm, so the new Amelís are racing boats?
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Old 29-10-2020, 13:26   #23
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

Quote:
Not to put too fine a point on that, but boats with FIN KEELS are boats for racing men, NOT for cruising men
Well, if that don't beat all! Here I was, having put over 150,000 miles on my last three boats, all of which had fin keels, thinking I was cruising successfully and happily, and now you tell me I wasn't.

My view: when cruising, most folks spend very little time actually steering their boat. Mostly an autopilot or windvane is doing the job for them. And if the boat is happy being steered by such a device, then it is suitable for cruising.

And TP, believe it or not, many fin keel boats are not only happy under such conditions, quite a few will self-steer by balancing the sail properly, just like your full keel boat will.
My S&S 30 would hold her course with the wind anywhere forward of the beam without even lashing the tiller. And for t hat matter, we did ~2000 miles in her, returning from Hawaii after her silly little autohelm 2000 tiller pilot died, using only sheet-to-tiller steering.

Of course, not all fin keelers are so polite, but I can say with a great deal of confidence (having encountered so very many such boats in distant anchorages) that even the more fractious ones do indeed make long cruising passages with happy crews... only the autopilots are stressed out by the design of the boat.

Blanket statements, like the one quoted above, have mislead a lot of newbies (and experienced folks as well) into making poor choices. Analysis of each individual design yields a better understanding of the potential of a b oat than all encompassing platitudes.

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Old 29-10-2020, 14:04   #24
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

Do you mean a high aspect fin keel (short but deep) or a low aspect fin keel (long, probably not so deep) or maybe like my boat a low aspect fin keel, bolted to a deep keel stub, with a long deadwood leading back to the propellor (so no need for a P bracket). My boat is directionally very stable going forward, easy to set up to sail herself with minimum stress on autopilot, but in reverse will not answer to the rudder doing less than 3 knots so in close quarters you must know what the prop walk is going to do & make it work for you. Fighting it is worse than useless - have you ever failed to complete a 10 point turn??
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Old 29-10-2020, 14:55   #25
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

one thing not so far mentioned. If you live or go off the beaten track no travellifts, etc, and you have to dry out alongside a wharf to do maintenance, a full keel will give you a lot less grief
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Old 29-10-2020, 21:33   #26
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

Hello Drcaptain, You have asked "are my assumptions correct?" I say "some of them". You have asked "anyone else with experience with both?" Yes, as a delivery skipper, I have plenty. Probably 75% of the boats delivered have been fin keeled of the more than 160 sailboats I have delivered. My previous boat was a fin keel. Both kinds of boats can do just about everything, if built strong enough. That includes racing and winning and cruising and live-aboarding.
My current boat and my preference is the full keel. My current boat is a Westsail-32 and probably a good choice for you too. In my opinion, the fin keeled boat has no advantages as a CRUISING boat, worth mentioning, when under about 38 feet. As length increases, I feel that the fin keel becomes more suitable for cruising for it's length. I feel I have a pretty good handle on the "Feel" of a sailboat in the ocean. I fully understand where you are coming from. My preference is just that. My preference. Good Luck
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Old 29-10-2020, 21:56   #27
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

Having sailed now for 30 years , personally I donít think it matters what keel is under the boat. Iíve taken find through storms where the autopilot still handled the boat , Iíve been on long Keels that were wet boats and pigs to control in a harbour etc.

Really look at your typical sailing requirements , buy for the 80 % not the 20%
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Old 29-10-2020, 23:15   #28
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

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Hmmm, so the new Amelís are racing boats?
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Old 30-10-2020, 03:53   #29
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

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it was a hunter 25.5

the bottom was dirty and was eat up with pox

i sold it a couple of years ago

i absolutely think most of my problems were my fault

but still kinda feel like full and or modified keel would be easier to sail

i do alot of single handing too

thanks rockinar, anyone else with experience with both?

any recommendations on a manufacturer or model?

i was thinking somewhere in the mid 30s
If you decide to go a bit small say 27'-28', a small outboard on the stern virtually eliminates docking problems.

My outboard rotates thru about 190 degrees so I can move the boat almost directly 90 degrees off center if I need to.

Also my boat is a 1974 Bristol 27 with full keel (cutaway full keel) but the engine was bought new in 2011. So it basically has a new engine not an ancient leaky diesel which is important because it's dependable and gives you the peace of mind that you don't have to sail in to your slip especially if you are single handing like I do most of the time

There are tons of small full keel boats to choose from just check the atom voyages website

I use a 5hp 4 stroke and have motored home from 25 miles out with it when the was no wind. Autopilot all the way.

Plus the keel on my boat is very strong so a grounding isn't usually a problem. I have bounced myself off being grounded a couple times with wind, waves, and engine.

Of course with only a 4' draft, I could have jumped overboard and push, but it didn't come to that.

But, these boats do not point very well so you have to plan for that.......but they do well when it gets rough. I've been in winds near 33 knots sailing and 45 at anchor and the boat did fine.
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Old 30-10-2020, 06:25   #30
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Re: full keel vs fin keel

My only real experience with a full keel was on a friends Atkin Elf. Designed in 1925 I believe. It was built in the late 50's. While it was undoubtedly very stable and tracked well it was otherwise very tender initially and needed a nautical mile to make a turn. Tacking in tight quarters was next to impossible and the rigging meant having a crew aboard to sail a 30 foot boat properly. While I acknowledge that there are some good qualities when it came time to buy my own boat I got a fin keel for the maneuverability and sailing qualities as apparently I'm not a gentleman and often sail to weather.
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