Select Page

Hugo Boss

Keel design is constantly evolving and nowhere is this more apparent than in modern racing yachts such as the Imoca Open 60 class. These fast offshore monohulls use highly sophisticated canting keels to help them stay upright when sailing upwind. The boats are designed to be as light as possible while at the same time being solid enough to cope with ocean racing.

While cruising yachts are not designed to win ocean races, there are several options of keel design available. Traditional yachts tend to have long deep keels which are an integral part of the hull, which make them heavier than modern designs, but stable and seaworthy.

Traditional long keel yacht

Many modern yachts have fin shaped keel designs, which are bolted beneath the hull. This produces lighter, faster and and more manouevrable yachts than deep keel designs.

Vertical bow cruising yacht

Below is a summary of all the common keel designs found on types of sailing yachts on the market today.

Long keel design

Long, deep keels are common on traditional yachts. They form part of the hull structure as opposed to being bolted on to the hull. They provide plenty of strength and stability but are less efficient than modern designs.

Long keel

Fin keel design

A fin keel is bolted on to the underside of the hull. Fin keels vary from shallow fin to deep fin. Cruising yachts tend to have shallow, wide fin keels, sometimes with heavy bulbs at the foot to minimise the yacht’s draught. Racing yachts tend to have thin and deep keels with heavy bulbs to improve performance.

Fin keel

Bilge keel design

Twin, or bilge keels enable a yacht to remain upright when dried out at low tide. They have a shallower draught than fin keels, making them suited to cruising in shallow, coastal waters. They do not perform to windward as well as a fin keel and are used for cruising as opposed to racing yachts.

Bilge keels

Lifting keel design

A lifting keel enables a yacht to stay afloat in very shallow water. Lifting keels work in a similar way to a sailing dinghy’s centreboard. They are an alternative solution to bilge keels, with the advantage that when lowered they perform as well as a fixed fin keel. Their design is ideal for trailer sailers.

Lifting keel

Canting keel design

Canting keels are used on high performance racing yachts. They have a deep fin with a bulb. They can be tilted or “canted” out sideways to counter the heeling forces. These advanced designs are used with daggerboards and foils to further improve performance. Boats with canting keels are pricey.

Canting keel

Hull shape

When making a choice, consideration should be given to the shape of the hull as well as the keel design. The shape of the bow and stern are the most noticeable aspects of hull shape as they are above the waterline.

Modern designs favour vertical bows but in the past raked bows were more common.

On modern yachts, the scooped stern is popular as it allows for a swim platform and easy access on and off the boat from the water. In the past canoe shaped sterns and flat  transoms were popular and while pleasing to the eye, were not quite as practical as today’s designs.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4c80

In summary

When choosing a yacht, there are many design variations and shapes that will influence your choice. It is worth spending some time exploring the options and weighing up the pros and cons to ensure that the boat you buy will suit the type of sailing you have in mind.

Diesel engine winterisation

An inactive boat engine needs to be protected from corrosion during the winter, caused by the rising humidity levels through the cold months and the salty coastal air. This applies whether the boat is left afloat or hauled out over the winter. Read here about the two important stages of winterisaton for a diesel boat engine.

Narrowboating on the Kennet and Avon Canal

A recently cancelled sailing event I was due to take part in left us with a free weekend in the diary. Given that my wife and I were celebrating a bumper wedding anniversary and the weather forecast was for fine weather, we decided to hunt around for a last minute canal holiday.

Boat electrics inspection checklist

With the boat ashore, here are some recommendations for carrying out a boat owner electrics inspection. Safety is always paramount so remember to do the checks with the batteries off. Wearing a head torch helps, make notes as you go and only tackle a repair if you are 100% sure you know what you are doing:

Sailing into a storm

Weather forecasting has become increasingly accurate, but despite this, I was caught out recently by a forecast that considerably underestimated the wind strengths and consequently was sailing single handed in to a Force 8 gale, which proved to be challenging!

Peer to Peer yacht charter – How can you monetize your boat?

There is a growing trend in peer to peer yacht charter. How does it work? People already rent rooms, cars and bikes from one...

Leaking decks

Leaking decks are perceived as a nuisance by some boat owners, but if leaks are ignored a much more serious situation may well be developing, especially in the case of boats with balsa or plywood deck cores. So deck leaks do need to be investigated and dealt with.

Passage planning and pilotage

Passage planning and pilotage help skippers navigate safely from one port to another. A passage plan takes into account all...

First aid at sea basics

At least one person on board should be trained in first aid and know how to administer the contents of the first aid kit, ensuring there are adequate supplies for the planned duration of the trip.

Competent crew skills: arriving and leaving a berth

Skilled boat handling is needed when entering or leaving harbour. Crew tasks include preparing the mooring lines and fenders before docking and...

Wooden Hull Repairs

While wooden boat hull maintenance is mostly straightforward, it is always a good idea to take expert advice on any repair job needed doing to a wooden boat, unless you have done the job before and know what you are doing.

Weather forecasting resources and tips

All competent sailors need to have a good basic understanding of how to interpret a weather forecast. They also need to be able to interpret the actual conditions they are experiencing.

Sail trimming for cruisers

Sail trimming tips for cruisers. Whether racing or cruising, a well tuned boat will sail faster and tend to heel less than a boat with badly adjusted sails.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Getting to the Start

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the start of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

Capsize – understanding the risks

A skipper should know how their boat will cope with rough seas. By working within known limits and understanding the risks,...

Essential yacht tender safety for skippers and crew

Essential yacht tender safety - the dangers inherent in using a dinghy to get ashore from a moored or anchored yacht are all too easily...

Keel maintenance and Repair – Part 2

If you have ever witnessed a boat colliding with a rock or other submerged obstacle you will know that there is an almighty thump and the whole boat shakes and judders. While such hard groundings seldom result in catastrophic keel failure, something has to give and even the sturdiest keels can easily be damaged by such an impact.

Boat ownership

Owning a boat is a big commitment that should bring no end of satisfaction for the owner as well as the owner's family and friends. In...

Boat interior varnishing

Most boat interiors have a combination of varnished and painted surfaces including solid wooden joinery, plywood laminates with thin hardwood veneers and glass reinforced plastic. When making your assessment of what you are going to do, bear in mind that the varnishing process consumes a lot of time, especially if the existing surfaces are in poor shape.

Liferafts

Liferafts should be stowed where they are ready for immediate launching. All crew should know the location of the liferaft and know how to launch, inflate and board it. They should also know what equipment it contains.

Understanding boat engines

Irrespective of what kind of engine a boat is equipped with and who does the work, the regular care and maintenance of a marine engine is essential. The most common cause of marine engine failure is widely known to be lack of maintenance.

Top five windvane self steering installation questions

Top five windvane self steering installation questions answered by Sarah Curry of Hydrovane International Marine, courtesy of Viki Moore from Island Cruising NZ

Learning about diesel engine maintenance

Marine diesel engines are internal combustion engines that are designed specifically for use in maritime applications. These engines are commonly used in a variety of watercraft, ranging from small boats and yachts to large ships and vessels. Learn about marine diesel engine maintenance courses.

Rudders and steering systems – Part 3

In the third of our three blog articles on rudders and steering systems, we look at how to replace rudder bearings and repair a water-saturated core.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 3 – Preparations

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the third of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

Boating Rules of the Road – International ColRegs

    International ColRegs Rule 7: Risk of Collision Anyone who is responsible for a vessel at sea, from the...