Cruisers Forum

  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on Cruisers Forums. Advertise Here
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 21-08-2011, 11:24   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Tempe, AZ
Posts: 64
Swing Keel vs Fixed

Looking for my first sailboat. I'm doing basic recon now & will start physically looking in 2-3 weeks.

What are the pros & cons of a swing keel vs a fixed keel?

The boat will be dry docked at a local lake & sailed 95% of the time in said lake (Lake Pleasant, Phx, AZ).

The swing keel sounds pretty cool. I'm concerned with leaking & maintenance specific to a swing keel.
rpoint16 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-08-2011, 11:57   #2
Senior Cruiser
GordMay's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario - 48-29N x 89-20W
Boat: (Cruiser Living On Dirt)
Posts: 48,306
Images: 241
Re: Swing vs Fixed

The centerboard, or swing keel has a small base keel stub, with a dagger than rotates downward.
When the water is deep, you stick the centerboard down. When shoal, you sail centerboard up.
The main drawback is maintenance with the centerboard. As with any moving part, problems arise. The centerboard has to be maintained, as well as operated.
They're often a little noisy.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

GordMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-08-2011, 13:21   #3
Registered User
Eleven's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Southampton UK
Boat: Jaguar 22 mono called Arfur.
Posts: 1,220
Images: 3
Re: Swing vs Fixed

My Jaguar has a swing keel, hinged above the slight keel and raised by a wire winch.
The wire and winch requires routine maintenance at each lift out as when it fails the keel swings down and strikes the 'soft' fibre glass. That will probably sink the boat.
However it leaves a keel (when up) some some nine inches below the hull. When down it works well for a race/day sail boat.
Maintenance should match well with hull anti-fouling but does require that the keel can be lowered and supported while on the hard. That's not a trailer situation unless you have nice service pit in your garage.
Ex Prout 31 Sailor, Now it's a 22ft Jaguar called 'Arfur' here in sunny Southampton, UK.
A few places left in Quayside Marina and Kemps Marina.
Eleven is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-08-2011, 15:03   #4
Registered User
Starbuck's Avatar

Join Date: May 2005
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 860
Re: Swing Keel vs Fixed

Have to presume you're considering a small keelboat of 20–24 feet in length.

If your boat is to be craned in and out (lifted by straps to the water and then back to its cradle), a fixed keel will offer a bit better performance. If you must launch the boat from a ramp with a trailer, the swing-keel is the lone practical hull configuration of the two. Check with the yard to find out how boats are launched/recovered, then you'll know.
s/y Elizabeth Catalina 34 MkII
"Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them." G. K. Chesterfield
Starbuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-08-2011, 16:54   #5
Moderator Emeritus
roverhi's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1976 Sabre 28-2
Posts: 7,505
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
Re: Swing Keel vs Fixed

The problem with swing keels, vs center board boats, is all the ballast is in that big swinging plate with a swing keel. In a knockdown, the board can swing back up and the boat will no longer have positive stability. The could leave you with the mast pointing down and the part of your boat that should never see the sun blinded by the light. Multiple deaths from a swing keeler that turned turtle in San Diego Bay last year.

Center board boats have smallish keel and a largely unweighted board. The board does not act as ballast. When it's down, it adds additional resistance to sideways motion for better windward performance.

Keel boats come in all sorts of configuations and keel depths. Racing boats will have a deeper, shorter keel. More cruising oriented boats will tend to have shallower, longer keels. The deeper the keel, the more resistance to healing and better able to stand up to more sail area in stronger winds. A blessing for the racer, not so much so for the cruiser.

What really will determine what you need is the launch ramps in your area. If they get deep quickly, full keel boats are easy to launch with an extendable tongue or even a rope to get the boat and trailer into deeper water. If the launch ramps are shallow, you'll be forced to go with a shallow draft fixed keel, centerboarder, or swing keel. That is if there are no lifts in your area. Most of the Yacht clubs on the Alameda Estuary have simple permanent cranes for launching keel boats up to around 30' length and 6' plus draft. The boats are built with a lift ring so it's just a matter of hooking to the crane, hoisting the boat out, and swingine it onto it's trailer. BTW, by crane, I'm talking about a simple inverted L shaped beam with a chain hoist, not some Bucyrus Erie behemoth.
Peter O.
'Ae'a, Pearson 35
'Ms American Pie', Sabre 28 Mark II
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22-08-2011, 19:49   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Boat: Bristol 38.8
Posts: 1,625
Re: Swing Keel vs Fixed

A swing keel and a centerboard are two very different animals. A centerboard is an airfoil (or more accurately a "water foil") that doesn't weigh much. A swing keel has weight and adds ballast below the boat.
Curmudgeon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22-08-2011, 20:07   #7
Registered User
Cheechako's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 25,327
Re: Swing Keel vs Fixed

A swing keel or ballasted centerboard will be very nice for lake sailng. I have seen photos of large yachts overturned that simply floated upside down too.
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

Cheechako is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
1975 Catalina 22 Swing Keel Maintenance ronosceola Monohull Sailboats 6 23-09-2012 09:34
For Sale: Melges 32 / 30 Keel captmmac1 Classifieds Archive 0 14-08-2011 20:31
Lag Screws in a Lead Keel ? skipmac Construction, Maintenance & Refit 4 11-07-2011 17:09
Cast Iron Keel Repair Bay Sailor Construction, Maintenance & Refit 4 01-07-2011 16:20
Keel Saga, for Those Contemplating this Procedure for Your Boat . . . CharlieCobra Construction, Maintenance & Refit 11 10-07-2010 03:47

Advertise Here

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:35.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.