Is a small fin keel sail boat capable of blue water sailing

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Mickey1234, Jul 5, 2018.

  1. Mickey1234
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    Mickey1234 Junior Member

    I know you can technically do in anything I guess I was wondering how much less safe it would than a full keel boat of the same size
  2. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Whats "small" ?

    Here's a fin keel that has been around the world 4 times
    1959-C2 launch sequence1.jpg
  3. JamesG123
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

    I think he means a swing or dagger board keel.
  4. Skyak
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    Skyak Senior Member

    "Full keel boat" means that there is a more or less continuous curve from the bow down the front of the keel. A 3/4 keel is more common in old boats where the keel is cut away toward the bow and the keel still extends all the way back and the rudder is hung from it (sometimes referred to as full). "Fin keel" refers to a keel separate from any support of the rudder. Almost all keel boats built today are fin keel including world cruisers. The old argument that you need a full keel for cruising is dead. Fin keels and rudders are a bit more difficult to make extra strong but it is a well known and proven path by now.
  5. kvsgkvng
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    kvsgkvng Senior Member

    "Capable?" I guess yes,
    • if you are lucky,
    • if you are skilled sailor,
    • if you know your weather and currents,
    • if you plan your voyage well,
    • if you go where you could go in a small vessel,
    • if you like to stake your life.

    Would you change your light switch while it is "hot?"
    Technically it is possible, less safe when doing it with current off.

    Here is the link of Shark 24 claiming to cross Atlantic
  6. Mickey1234
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    Mickey1234 Junior Member

    27 feet was what I was thinking of as small
  7. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    In that size range, I think the keelboat, as in the Contessa 26 , Albin Vega 27, or Island Packet 27 is preferable. Those craft have made amazing bluewater voyages. In that size, you are probably thinking solo sailing. Then it's all about energy management. Anything you can do to reduce the effort and exposure is a good thing. The Cal 28 isn't a bad option, if you want to call that a fin keel. It does have a detached spade rudder. Higher performance, but a lot more effort to sail. The Cal is unhappy at anchor and doesn't heave-to well. I don't know any fin-keelers in that size that do. They were mostly designed with Midgit Ocean Racing Club (MORC) rules in mind if designed for blue water.
  8. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I've sailed small boats in the ocean. The last long passage I did was from Milwaukee to Cartagena (Colombia) in a 1969 Coronado 25.
  9. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Re a 'small' fin keel yacht offshore, Dave and Jaja Martin took their Cal 25 around the world quite happily - here is an excellent article about how it all happened.

    And a bio about them -
    A Sailing Family Takes to Dry Land - The Working Waterfront Archives

    I met them here in Barbados almost 30 years ago, after they had arrived from 'across the pond', and I remember thinking then that Direction was rather small for 2 people to live on board. I met them again in Antigua, 6 years later - in the meantime they had pottered around the world, had 2 kids on the way, and kid #3 was going to be in the offing fairly soon.

    They used to have a wonderful Blog on Setsail ( but sadly that (and various others) was scrapped some years ago in favour of the motor boats like Wind Horse.
  10. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    I consider a 19' open boat below the minimum to circumnavigate the globe, but Anthony was good enough to make it, while others fail on a good seaworthy 40'.

    Most boat are more seaworthy than their crew, so it mostly depends on your nowadays or future skills and knowledge where you can go.

  11. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    The longer racing canting keels are certainly more vulnerable over the long run. Below is a good article that states "Canting keels experience much higher stress ranges during tacks, vertical accelerations and pitching motions. It is likely that a canting keel will require detailed fatigue analysis even if it meets static load requirements." It goes on to state a keel should undergo a static load test and points out that stronger materials are not always the answer. The static test is key.

    Ref: Keel Fatigue Analysis

    So it goes without saying the thinner and longer a keel is the more fatigue it will encounter. By contrast many fin keels are shorter and sufficiently thick, as are the full in-line keels where fatigue is almost a non-issue.

    A couple of other factors:

    Keel bolts: Any keel that is bolted on will need the bolts inspected on a schedule basis and particularly after running aground. Lives have been lost due to bad keel bolts.
    Weather/Sea conditions: Routinely sailing in rough seas will increase the load on a keel. I don't see this mentioned in many places, but it is a consideration especially with newer boats where most of the load is riding on the keel bolts.
  12. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    A bit more info on the long canting keels. Strain gauges and scheduled non-destructive inspection (NDI) are used on racing boats to monitor their strength. So along with speed you must accept the on-going monitoring of the structure. Same approach is used with helicopter rotor blades. Being long and thin they encounter all sorts of minute stresses. Strain gauges & NDI inspection are routine business.

  13. gilberj
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    gilberj Junior Member

    John Guzwell sailed Trekka around the world 20'6" fin keel boat. I believe she circumnavigated a second time as well.
    Patrick Ellam sailed Sopranino 19' ( also a Giles design) across the Atlantic with Colin Moodie....also a fin keeler.
    You cannot just say that any fin keel boat can make it....some have handling issues, that are ok in around the buoy racing, but dangerous in a large sea, but then again some of the long keel boats can be cranky as well in certain circumstances.
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