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Old 23-09-2021, 12:24   #1
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To Tartan or not to Tartan

Fellow Sailors,

Recently I found a 1989 Tartan 40 which on the surface truly meets my needs. In fact, went to see it just yesterday with my wife and she fell in love with it. In my questioning of the Broker prior to going to see this boat he indicated that it has a fully encapsulated keel. The keel is posted in the listing as 5'2" and there is a badge in the boat indicating that it is indeed a Scheel Keel which I understood to be a good design. Yesterday, near the end of my inspection of this boat which is in the water I lifted out a cabin sole cover right by the mast step. Uh! my heart felt like it tumbled down several flights of stairs. Feeling as if I had finally found my boat right in my back yard, I looked down and staring right up at me were enormous bolt ends. I knew they could only be one thing, bolts for the keel I'm still in shock, disbelief and disappointment.

I now have this burden on my mind that I'm hoping to get some input on especially if there are some Tartan owners in this forum. I've done a great deal of research on keels to be sure including on this forum, Information overload is part of my problem. The research that I've done suggests a couple of things:
1. Tartans are really good Racer/ Cruiser Sailboats (one of the best in fact).
2. Bolted on keels should be avoided as they can and do fall off which spells the end.

I'm asking myself if it is the case that "all" bolted on keels are horrific or is it a case of some being better than others. Should boats be reviewed more on an individual basis rather than shunning all boats with bolted on Keels? Tartans are supposed to be wonderful boats so how can they be if they have the dreaded bolt on keel?

I'm confused, help! Thanks in advance.
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Old 23-09-2021, 12:38   #2
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Many quality boats and long distance passage makers have bolt on keels, I wouldn't consider this to be a deterrent.
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Old 23-09-2021, 12:41   #3
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap Morgan View Post
2. Bolted on keels should be avoided as they can and do fall off which spells the end.

I'm asking myself if it is the case that "all" bolted on keels are horrific or is it a case of some being better than others. Should boats be reviewed more on an individual basis rather than shunning all boats with bolted on Keels? Tartans are supposed to be wonderful boats so how can they be if they have the dreaded bolt on keel?

I'm confused, help! Thanks in advance.
Oh please. The reason it is a good cruiser racer is it has a bolt on keel for starters. If you were in Europe you couldn't buy a new yacht with an encapsulated keel, they are all bolt on, which makes me wonder why the broker said it has. I hope no one has gone and stuck a layer of GRP on the outside of the keel.

Seems that in the US encapsulated keels are sought after. The rest of the world, less so. The scheel keel is interesting, shallower and longer than a deep fin keel which has obvious advantages but didn't really catch on because there were expensive.

I think you might want to approach this with an open mind, certainly having two bolt on keels doesn't worry me. Indeed there are positive advantages that wanted two keels.

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Old 23-09-2021, 12:46   #4
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

There's nothing inherently wrong with a bolt on keel. There's no reason the bolted joint can't be engineered to be stronger than the surrounding hull. The issues are when the joint is under-speced, or you have a skinny, short (lengthwise along the hull) keel without a lot of joint area. Or if the keel is bolted to the hull without the hull being adequately reinforced to spread the loads. Then you end up with a situation where you can either snap the keel off or rip the keel mounting out of the hull.



But if the joint is of adequate size, has appropriate structure above it to spread the load, the bolts are in good condition, etc. then it shouldn't be a weak point at all.
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Old 23-09-2021, 12:49   #5
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

The only boat I know of that ever lost a bolt on keel was my dockmate's Tartan 40. I'm not even joking. Proceed with caution.
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:07   #6
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

There are lots of Tartan 37s out there roaming the planet with a bolt on keel. They manage to not lose them. Have your surveyor check the bolts. You'll likely be fine.
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:17   #7
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumroll30 View Post
Many quality boats and long distance passage makers have bolt on keels, I wouldn't consider this to be a deterrent.
Thanks for the quick turnaround Drumroll. I am keeping your response in mind.
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:25   #8
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Oh please. The reason it is a good cruiser racer is it has a bolt on keel for starters. If you were in Europe you couldn't buy a new yacht with an encapsulated keel, they are all bolt on, which makes me wonder why the broker said it has. I hope no one has gone and stuck a layer of GRP on the outside of the keel.

Seems that in the US encapsulated keels are sought after. The rest of the world, less so. The scheel keel is interesting, shallower and longer than a deep fin keel which has obvious advantages but didn't really catch on because there were expensive.

I think you might want to approach this with an open mind, certainly having two bolt on keels doesn't worry me. Indeed there are positive advantages that wanted two keels.

Pete
Pete,

Truly appreciate your candor! Iím aware that practically all new boats have encapsulated keels or centerboard keels. Iíll keep an open mind for sure. Will need to read a few more of these replies before I make a decision. Frankly, I feel that this is the boat and plan on having it surveyed anyway. Of course the survey here in Miami is pricey $1700 plus $500 for the haulout so itís a bit of a gamble.

Thanks again!
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:32   #9
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Rslifkn,

I find your explanation of how the keel is spec’d to be very interesting. Even in my non-Engineer’s mind it makes sense that if there is good proportioning where the keel meets the hull then there should be better load distribution. Outside of that then there is the issue of how well the Seller has taken care of the boat. I’m hoping that the Surveyor can bring that to light in the survey. Wish me luck����
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:36   #10
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Again, most new boats DO NOT have encapsulated keels. The vast majority are bolt on. As long as it was designed and built properly and bolts are in good shape, nothing wrong with a bolt on keel. Encapsulated keels have their.own set of problems. Survey should identify any problems.
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:45   #11
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Our Catalina 38 had a bolt on keel.We put thousands of miles on it in the Pacific. We hit a basket of rocks in Hiva Oa while looking for an anchor spot (old mooring) It bent the keel a little at the stern end. We sailed it like that some 2200 miles to Am Samoa. We hauled out and got hit by the 2009 tsunami. She landed on her side up against a building. We stood her back up and filled the bilge with water to see if any leaked out the keel/hull joint. Then we banged to keel straight with some boards, clamps and a sledge hammer. She was just fine when we re- launched her. My naval architect friend swears by bolt on keels.
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:45   #12
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

I'd care more about the hull being balsa cored than the keel being bolted on, just me tho.

That being said- I am a huge fan of Tartan's and I think the Tartan 40 is a great cruising sailboat
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Old 23-09-2021, 13:46   #13
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

[QUOTE=Cap Morgan;3488553]..............
.........................
Iím aware that practically all new boats have encapsulated keels or centerboard keels.

....................
.................../QUOTE]


Could you provide a source for this?


It is not true, though.
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Old 23-09-2021, 14:30   #14
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Headlee View Post
Our Catalina 38 had a bolt on keel.We put thousands of miles on it in the Pacific. We hit a basket of rocks in Hiva Oa while looking for an anchor spot (old mooring) It bent the keel a little at the stern end. We sailed it like that some 2200 miles to Am Samoa. We hauled out and got hit by the 2009 tsunami. She landed on her side up against a building. We stood her back up and filled the bilge with water to see if any leaked out the keel/hull joint. Then we banged to keel straight with some boards, clamps and a sledge hammer. She was just fine when we re- launched her. My naval architect friend swears by bolt on keels.
Rod,

That's pretty amazing, what a story! I'm getting more interested in the Tartan as I read most of these comments. My hunch is that preventative maintenance may play a key role in whether a keel separates or not plus perhaps the builder's reputation. I have to say that your story speaks well for Catalina Yachts too. Thanks for your response Sir.
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Old 23-09-2021, 14:33   #15
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Re: To Tartan or not to Tartan

[QUOTE=Stu Jackson;3488570]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap Morgan View Post
..............
.........................
Iím aware that practically all new boats have encapsulated keels or centerboard keels.

....................
.................../QUOTE]


Could you provide a source for this?


It is not true, though.
Stu,

I must admit that my understanding of this is based on my boat shopping experience and related articles when I do research. Are there any manufacturers producing encapsulated keels anymore, especially with lead?
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