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Deep Keels Mean Deep Trouble


Dec 30, 2010
Pacific Seacraft Orion27 HP: San Diego, M: Anacortes
While at the USNA in Annapolis, I sailed one season on Semper Fi. (previously named Recluta). She was a 48' Mahogany Frehrs with a deep keel. We had a lot of fun getting her back into shape after she was donated to the sailing program. She was a great boat, and raced very well. The summer after I left, she competed in Block Island Race week. During a race she hit a sandbar that was not on the charts at speed, lost her keel and turtled. I don't know if she was ever returned to sailing condition. Deep keels are great for racing, but you have to be very aware of your sailing environment.
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I recall racing a J-105 (6+foot keel) in San Diego harbor and taking it damn close to some day marks and around some ammo docs out near the edge of Coronado. More than once I held my breath as the skipper took the boat beyond what I thought was safe. We might have barely scraped bottom a bit, but sure never managed to take off a keel. That skipper knew his "sailing environment," and I was proud to crew with him. :biggrin:
Nov 30, 2015
Hunter 1978 H30 Cherubini Treman Marina, Ithaca, NY
:hijack: What has happened to the OP titled thread? Deep Keels, Deep Trouble? Lots of unrelated sidebars here...but I'm curious about perception of fin keeled vessels relative to that of shoal and swing keeled vessels. Isn't it simply a matter of anticipated usage and choosing proper boat design for the waters you expect to sail on? I don't really see an argument develop here, but I do see a potential paranoiac rant without supporting evidence that deep trouble is associated with deep keels.

As a refresher here's a good description of paranoia:

Paranoid thoughts are to do with your ideas about other people and what they might do. It can be difficult to work out whether a suspicious thought is paranoid or not. People might disagree on what is a paranoid thought. Someone else (a friend, family member or doctor) might say your thoughts are paranoid when you don't think they are.

People may think about risks in different ways and believe different things are good or bad evidence for suspicious thoughts. People might also believe different things based on the same evidence.

Ultimately you have to decide for yourself.

Suspicious thoughts are more likely to be paranoid if:
  • no one else shares the suspicious thought
  • there's no definite evidence for the suspicious thought
  • there is evidence against the suspicious thought
  • it's unlikely you would be singled out
  • you still have the suspicious thought despite reassurance from others
  • your suspicions are based on feelings and ambiguous events
Fin keels work great in appropriately depthed bodies of water. A storm event is an accident, and not a cause for selecting less stable boating in deeper water. Navigation skills and a good depth sounder are really all that's needed to keep a deep keel trouble free...and yes I have a deep keel boat.



Jul 24, 2005
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
The only boat I have seen with a snapped off keel was a Beneteau 36.7 that got stuck on sand in a shoaled up channel that showed a 9 foot chart depth. The story on that was the tow boat operator attempted to pull the boat off sideways and the keel resisted. The skipper of the sailboat was not a local and did not know about. the shoaling. Most of the local sailors were aware and it was posted in the notice to mariners.

Todd D

Jul 4, 2012
Allied Princess Southwest Harbor
The attachment point of the keel may look small, but unless the boat was really cheaply built there is a substantial grid inside the hull that the keel is bolted to. The grid serves to spread the keel load over a quite large area of the hull.
Apr 4, 2013
O'day 240 NY, NY (City Island)
Does anyone have any specific details about what brand and model boat that is?
Feb 14, 2014
Hunter 430 Saba Waveland, MS
After reading this thread I suddenly realized how this sailing term formed.

"Shiver me Timbers"

Also remembering Forrest Gump's words...

"Stupid is as Stupid Does!"


May 17, 2004
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Possible, but that gray hull and short keel stub looks to me like it's an O'day 302 or 322.
I agree it looks like one. Assuming it is it’s not the first case of a 302 or 322 losing its keel. This is consistent with reports of the keel sump layup being thinner than spec’d on some production runs. Also if that is the model then it’s not really an inherent problem with “deep keels” as the title would suggest; More an issue with low manufacturing quality control as a company is headed toward bankruptcy.
Jan 7, 2011
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
It certainly looks like an O302 or O322.
If the Hydrokeel was stuck in the mud, that is a lot of surface area
of force on the keel when they tried to pull it out. And that keel joint is a weak point on the boat.