Bilge keeler essential ?

H. Callens

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I am Belgian and looking for a sailing yacht to explore the South and East coast of Britain. If you really want to enjoy the British coast line with all its rivers, inlets, creeks, ... and avoid marinas now and again is a bilge keel boat not absolutely essential ? For practical reasons I am limited to the Belgian and Dutch boat market. The only bilge keel boats to be found here and in Holland are Westery Centaurs and I am not really fond of lift keel boats. Will I miss a lot of scenery if I do stick to a long keel (e.g. Albin Vega) or fin keel boat ?
 

William_H

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I can't comment on cruising coast of UK. However I was lucky to buy a small (perhaps too smal) lift keel sail boat 35 years ago and still love it.
The keel actually lifts vertically inside right up to the cabin roof. It is partially ballasted. What this means is that with keel up the boat will float in about 25cms of water. This means I don't need a tender when anchoring as I can get so close tot he shore. It can be motored under o/b pwer with keel up or just partially down. Rudder swings up. Albeit with lots of lee way. It is very easy to haul onto a trailer. There is no fixed keel or skeg. With keel down it sails well agaist the best fin keels.
Anyway my point is I find it surprising this style of boat is not made in UK or Europe. Perhaps it is. It would be ideal for drying out on mud. No good on rocks. Disadvantage is the loss of space in the cabin to the keel space. I suppose major surgery but any fine keel boat could be modifies to this style. Or perhaps that is a crazy idea. good luck olewill
 

LittleSister

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In short, no a bilge keel is not essential.

I have sailed thousands of miles round the South and East coasts of England (and beyond), most of which was in neither bilge or lift keeler.

It helps in some places, particularly to get the cheapest permanent moorings, but we are currently based on the East coast with a long keeler, spend most of our time up rivers and creeks, generally and don't regret not having bilge keels. We do enjoy the fact that our draft is quite shallow, and we wouldn't want a very deep draught boat round here (though some people manage OK with them) as that would limit some of the places we visit and be more restrictive in terms of tide times.
 

dylanwinter

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I regard boats that fall over when the tide goes out as being depth challenged

you will be cutting yourself out of hundreds of miles of delightful sailing areas if you have a single keel

I have had a lift keel and going down on smooth mud is fine(as long as it does not block the box - but the thought of going down on a boulder is bloomin frightening

D
 

seumask

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Having had both a lift keeler and a bilge keeler (current) I can recommend them both for exploring. However my choice would be the additional complications of a lift keeler as it really is capable of exploring water thinner than the bilge keelers and has that wonderful get out of jail card that you can lift the keel up when you touch the bottom to get going again. That said its really only worth having a lift keeler that sits upright on the bottom, stub keels that prevent this are a compromise in my view. When you have the keel up the water is usually thin enough to see the bottom or to get out and explore the bottom if you are worried about landing on a rock or something nasty.
 

Daydream believer

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Ask yourself what you want to do. If you really want to creep up some muddy creek to look at filth & scrub then yes you need a bilge keel. However, i have been on the east coast all my life & soon ditched the bilge keels for a boat that actually sailed. ( a Stella)
Depending on size oa you can get by with up to 1500 draft with no problem at all
 

NealB

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You'll get very different answers to this.

It depends on the type of exploring you like to do.

You've already heard from the renowned, world famous, ditch crawler, by the name of Dylan Winter.

I have a feeling you'll also soon get a reply from Sailorman, who very successfully bashes around the east coast, and near continent, in a boat of (by Dylan's standards) very considerable draft.

So......horses for courses!

And don't overlook catamarans.

Good luck!
 

ProDave

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I'm a lifting keel owner.

The first thing you will find about lifting keels is there are as many different ways of lifting a keel as there are lifting keel boats.

On mine the keel pivots at the front and is wound up into the keel box by an in built winch mechanism inside the cabin, and when the keel is up the bottom of the boat is flat and she sits upright.

The main advantage being In a drying harbour, I can sneak out as the tide come in long before the bilge keelers. In my case the rudder also pivots like a dinghy rudder to work in shallow water. But with the keel up the makes a lot of leeway so best wind it down even if just a little.

I will echo the comments of others. I have no issue with my boat settling twice a day on the soft mud in the harbour. But drying out on a beach I would be afraid I might have picked the one spot with a sharp rock sticking up which could rather spoil the day.

The choice for me was not that I wanted a lift keeler, but that I wanted either a lifter or a bilge keel and I looked at what was on the market at the time. I could have looked at the market at a different time and ended up with a bilge keeler.

And the other advice most lift keel owners will give is you need to maintain the keel mechanism. In my case I have modified my trailer so I can lower the keel while the boat is on the trailer over the winter. But in my case that's just for cleaning and anti fouling as the lifting mechanism is serviced from above by removing the table that forms the top of the keel box.
 
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dylanwinter

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Ask yourself what you want to do. If you really want to creep up some muddy creek to look at filth & scrub then yes you need a bilge keel. However, i have been on the east coast all my life & soon ditched the bilge keels for a boat that actually sailed. ( a Stella)
Depending on size oa you can get by with up to 1500 draft with no problem at all

The east coast is all about the filth and the scrub as you so eloquently call it




 

SiteSurfer

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Absolutely not hijacking - but given the comments above : does a bilge / lifter not also help with mooring costs? (Not a statement - a hypothesis! - given the ability to take a drying out mooring).
 

Tranona

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Absolutely not hijacking - but given the comments above : does a bilge / lifter not also help with mooring costs? (Not a statement - a hypothesis! - given the ability to take a drying out mooring).

Of course. That is one of the reasons why they were so popular 30 or 40 years ago before marinas when many moorings were drying. Still popular because drying moorings are still used and invariably cheaper than deep water.
 
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