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Real world experience w/torpedo bulb keels in the PNW


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So it seems designers and manufacturers are fully embracing torpedo keels on cruising boats as well as racers these days.  Are they the grass and kelp paddy catchers they appear to be?  The good news is that I’m not sailing in NE waters infested with lobster pots but we have our share of crud in the water and plenty of truly intimidating ‘tide lines’ of debris as well.  

Torpedo bulbs— stay away and insist on a slightly raked or swept leading edge with trailing bulb perhaps or, just grow a pair and enjoy being in the ‘in’ crowd today?

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Kelp cutters are your friend. 

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7 minutes ago, Tom O'Keefe said:

Kelp cutters are your friend. 

yep, but they are expensive to install and most people won't pay for it. if you live where there is kelp - find another boat with a normal keel with enough rake to shed it..

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34 minutes ago, Editor said:

yep, but they are expensive to install and most people won't pay for it. if you live where there is kelp - find another boat with a normal keel with enough rake to shed it..

So, that's why you bought the Erickson?

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Almost any boat with even a trapezoidal keel will be a kelp catcher.

Learn how to back down. 

This was standard pre-start practice at RVic when I raced out of there in the late 80's.  Did it mid race often too, which sucked.  But with practice you can do it in well under a minute.

But the kelp problem there was seasonal and lasted maybe a month.  Occasionally caught a few rogue strands out of season.

On the other hand in Van kelp is seldom if ever a problem and I don't know if anyone even knows how to back down.

I don't know what it is like in Seattle or other parts of PNW, but the kelp issue seems to be very seasonal and locational.

 

Edit:  Now that I think about it, often the rudder would pick up kelp as well - or in isolation.  Which is a lot worse than picking it up on the keel alone since it made backing down more difficult as steerage becomes almost zero.  And I am guessing a kelp cutter would be useless when kelp is hung up on the rudder. 

So kelp is an issue now matter what type of fin keeler you have here.

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4 hours ago, Editor said:

 if you live where there is kelp - find another boat with a normal keel with enough rake to shed it..

Exactly - this is the keel of my last boat and kelp was rarely a problem in the PNW.

The folded prop on a shaft extended almost all the way to the rudder, which along with the keel seemed to keep it pretty clear as well.  

image.png.66757cc666f3a9f8f4384ab30f08675c.png

2 hours ago, 12 metre said:

Learn how to back down. 

This was standard pre-start practice at RVic when I raced out of there in the late 80's.  Did it mid race often too, which sucked.  But with practice you can do it in well under a minute.

On the other hand my buddy has a plumb keel with a torpedo bulb, and in some races we're literally running the kelp cutter every 5-10 minutes, so backing down to de-foul it isn't really an option if you want to win. 

It's also not just kelp, but smaller stuff like eel grass too, at least around Southern Vancouver Island.

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1 hour ago, gspot said:

 

On the other hand my buddy has a plumb keel with a torpedo bulb, and in some races we're literally running the kelp cutter every 5-10 minutes, so backing down to de-foul it isn't really an option if you want to win. 

It's also not just kelp, but smaller stuff like eel grass too, at least around Southern Vancouver Island.

Well, there you go...first hand experience with a T-keel in PNW. 

Surely it's not that bad year round.  Or is it just during kelp season?

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1 hour ago, gspot said:

Exactly - this is the keel of my last boat and kelp was rarely a problem in the PNW.

The folded prop on a shaft extended almost all the way to the rudder, which along with the keel seemed to keep it pretty clear as well.  

image.png.66757cc666f3a9f8f4384ab30f08675c.png

On the other hand my buddy has a plumb keel with a torpedo bulb, and in some races we're literally running the kelp cutter every 5-10 minutes, so backing down to de-foul it isn't really an option if you want to win. 

It's also not just kelp, but smaller stuff like eel grass too, at least around Southern Vancouver Island.

Yeah, the eel grass... at least with my catamaran, I could haul up the vertical daggerboard(s).  The rudders, well they were easy (relatively) to reach... at the dock, mostly.  I think gspot's pic shows the optimum... well, we could discuss  fin or full keel here...  nahh.

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4 hours ago, 12 metre said:

Surely it's not that bad year round.  Or is it just during kelp season?

 

4 hours ago, See Level said:

Tide lines are the worst areas, unfortunately they seem to roll through the starting area on a pretty regular basis around here.

No it's not bad all year, but seems to be worst during extreme tides that also pick stuff up from the beaches, including kelp that washed up previously. 

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Kelp is a problem in Dago right? Didn't the IACC boats then had kelp cutters? I was a guest of TNZ in '95 and in the compound with the keels but I don't remember. It might be an Issue for boats like X-119 in our general region so what say you?

 

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6 hours ago, Maxx Baqustae said:

Kelp is a problem in Dago right? Didn't the IACC boats then had kelp cutters? I was a guest of TNZ in '95 and in the compound with the keels but I don't remember. It might be an Issue for boats like X-119 in our general region so what say you?

 

I sailed in Van on an X-119 or a while and another bulb keeled boat and it was never an issue.  Don't know if I've ever even seen a kelp bulb on the shores in Van.

Vic is another issue.

I remember soon after getting my HF27 following Dave Richardson into a kelp bed figuring if it's good enough for Dave - good enough for me.  I was maybe a boat length behind and reasoned if I stayed glued to his stern either we both get through or we both don't.  Sure enough about halfway through, we slow down to a stop - almost like a very slow grounding but Dave continued on through without missing a beat.  Finally got through.  Can't recall if we backed down to get out.   Probably did at some point just to clear the foils - but we lost over 5 minutes on that one.

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21 hours ago, Maxx Baqustae said:

Kelp is a problem in Dago right? Didn't the IACC boats then had kelp cutters? I was a guest of TNZ in '95 and in the compound with the keels but I don't remember. It might be an Issue for boats like X-119 in our general region so what say you?

 

Kelp is a year round problem here in SD. In the 70s, sweep angles on trapezoidal keels were sufficient but rudders were the problem. Then the greater efficiency of keels with high aspect-short chord-near vertical foils began taking over designs. Now you have bulbs which amplify the problem. Also, the company that pioneered industrial scale commercial harvesting, Kelco, left for Ireland due to the cost of complying with ever more stringent environmental regulations and the beds are no longer "trimmed" on a regular basis so it reaches a certain length on the surface and then breaks off. It's everywhere now.

Serious racers here have cutters or $2,000 custom curved, carbon fiber kelp poles and the crewman who knows how to use them (there's apparently a trick to it) is almost more important than the mainsail trimmer. As is the bow lookout.

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