What Does A Sailboat Keel Do

What Does A Sailboat Keel Do?

Sailing is a fun way of getting to anywhere you’d like to go.

If you’ve never been sail cruising through the water, you are missing out.

Sailing provides you with a gentle experience when caressing the ocean’s surface.

You get to enjoy a beautiful sight.

For the boat to handle the smooth, graceful curves, it will need a keel.

What is a Keel?

A keel acts as a backbone or a structural member of your sailboat.

It runs longitudinally from the stem, along the centre of the hull to the stern.

A keel may be made of any strong, stiff material like metal or timber.

Traditional keels had a principal member with ribs attached on both sides.

What’s the Essence of a Keel?

There are multiple reasons why your sailboat requires a keel.

However, the main reason why a sailboat needs a keel is to help counteract all sideway forces from waves and wind.

This helps keep the boat upright in the water.

It is essential as the forces can be very strong to your bought leading to accidents.

The keel of your sailboat prevents capsizing by holding the boat’s ballast.

Furthermore, a keel will provide lift and counterbalance, thus ensuring that your boat performs better.

Another function of the keel is to control drifting.

It makes your boat stable and makes sure that your journey is safe.

To make sure you are safe you have to incorporate a keel in your sailboat as water bodies are always moving and you have to counteract the excessive force.

When in the water, your boat must be on the correct heading.

With a keel, you can hold your boat’s heading, thus ensuring that you don’t get lost.

You only get to set it once and forget it.

Without a keel, you must keep on checking your heading frequently.

This can be dangerous especially in a large water body.

Therefore when you have this with you will be able to navigate your water journey with ease.

Types of Keels

There are lots of sailboat keels that you can consider.

However, I will cover the main types of sailboat keels available.

This can help you understand which keel can work best on your boat and which considerations you need to make.

Dagger Keel

Dagger keels are retractable, and you can easily store them in their compartment when not in use.

These keels enable you to brave any shallows without any worries.

With this, you will travel with no worries as it will be of so much help. if you are that person that uses shallow waters then this is the ideal kneel for your boat.

Fin Keel

If you’re planning on going fast on your sailboat, you should consider a fin keel.

It’s sleek and small, thus being able to provide the least water resistance.

These keels can help you zip around in the water without worrying about grounding the boat.

You will be able to navigate the water body at your own speed without any hindrance

Full Keel

It’s the most common type of keel, and it’s prevalent in blue water sailboats.

This keel provides you with more stability compared to options like fin keels.

However, full keels are a bit harder to manoeuvre and much slower.

Sailboat Keel Uses Summary

Here’s what a sailboat keel does…

  • A keel acts as a backbone or a structural member of your sailboat. 
  • A sailboat needs a keel is to help counteract all sideway forces from waves and wind.
  • It helps keep your boat upright.


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igor desperatesailors

Hi, I’m Igor, Skipper of S/Y "The Hooker". A decade ago, I conquered my childhood dream: to be a sailing skipper, own a sailing yacht. Yes, it knocked dullness out of my urban life — Read more →

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