Live aboard to sail away part 7

The boat I chose was 43'10” aft cockpit vessel that provides a balance to my requirements. The free board is low enough that I can board from the dinghy without using a ladder and the combing is six inches or more in height surrounding the cockpit. Water is drained off the deck via hole in the toe rail and the toe rail is only 3 inches in height. I can manage the sails using manual winches without too much difficulty. A powered winch would be nice to have for the main sail, but currently I do not have a powered winch and can manage the sail without such a winch.

Draft 6'5” or less
“Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.” [Shakespeare: Henry VI III.i]
“A great ship asks deep waters.” [George Herbert: Jacula Prudentum]

My experience with draft is limited. In the Caribbean there are many anchorages I have used that are 3 meters or a little less. I have also seen large Swan sailboats in Annapolis with 11' draft or more that are seriously limited. In some cases, just entering or leaving Back Creek in these large Swans requires 10 minutes or more running the engine at full throttle to plow their way through the mouth of the channel. I have a friend with a small boat and a 3'5” draft. He can sail over sand bars in the Chesapeake with ease were I have to divert a mile or so around the bars. There are also boats with swing keels that have a shallow draft built into the hull and a swing, drop, keel that can be lowered in open water to increase the draft.

The selection of draft is going to depend upon your cruising plans. If you are going to spend a significant time in very shallow water, then look for a boat with a very shallow draft. If you are sailing only in deep ocean water and large navigation channels then very deep drafts are possible. My plan is to sail in a variety of conditions, and thus my draft restriction and construction restrictions.

No matter the draft you choose, you will hit bottom! All sailboats that move in the water hit bottom at one time or another. Sometimes this is done intentionally, but usually not. So another important factor is hull strength and the underwater structure of your boat. Once again, fin keels and spade rudders may have a disadvantage in that their design may be prone to more damage when grounded. Larger keels and rudders above the depth (shallower) than the keel can provide some protection in groundings.