Best keel for Morecambe Bay?


What keel type best suits Morecambe Bay?

Keel type

All sailboats have one or more lateral surfaces, known as keels. The primary purpose of a sailboat keel is to counter the sideways force of the wind and generate forward motion by creating lift. A secondary purpose of most types of keel is to provide ballast; the more ballast, the more stable (and heavy) the boat is. There are several different shapes of sailboat keels, and each has a different name—as well as different pros and cons.

Full-length keel Full Keel
Often found on traditional sailboats, the full-length keel uses length rather than depth to provide adequate lift and ballast for the hull. The rudder is often attached to the aft end.

Fin Keel Fin keel
A fin keel is separate from the rudder, and generally deeper and shorter in length in relation to the overall length of the hull.

Wing or bulb keel
Adding two wings or a single bulb to the very bottom of a keel allows designers to improve righting moment without adding too much weight. The wings poke out sideways from the main keel at its tip. Although winged keels are generally found on high performance sailboats, they can also help reduce the draft on cruising boats, which improves access to shallow or shoal water. The aim of a bulb keel is to set the ballast as low as possible, to help gain the maximum possible amount of leverage, without increasing keel depth (which is called “draft”) too much.

Bilge Keel
Bilge keel
Sailboats with bilge keels are able to stand upright on sand or mud at low tide. They are very common in areas with large tidal ranges. Bilge keels are not as effective as central keels in reducing sideways slippage (also known as “leeway”).

Centerboard or Daggerboard
Centerboards and daggerboards are able to be raised and lowered by the crew. When raised, they reduce both draft and wetted surface. When lowered, they provide many of the same benefits as a keel, though in smaller boats they are often unballasted. A centerboard is attached to the boat by a pin that creates a pivot point for lifting. A daggerboard drops into a slot through the boat. They are common on sailing dinghies, as well as on high-performance catamarans and trimarans.



  • Edit

    I would say that the bilge keel format is the most suitable for general purpose cruising in and around Morcambe Bay.
    Advantages are that you can moor pretty much where you want, say on a standard week cruise to Piel Island, without the worry of tipping over.

    However, from personal experience, the lifting keel is possibly the best choice if you want to venture up the Bay towards Ulverston or Arnside.