Some time ago I wrote a post over on BB regarding internal ballast and as I have a lot of questions/remarks on the subject in my email today which induced a strong case of Déjà vu so I thought I’d re-post it here..
Looking at my mailbag this morning I notice that not everyone agrees that a sharpie makes sense as a cruising boat.
Now, I actually get that as sharpies (or scows/whatever) are just that little bit different and folks don’t generally like things that either makes them think about how things work or interfere with their slavish devotion to conformity and nothing I can say will change those folks minds so I’m not even going to try… Life, as they say, is simply too short.
On the other hand, several readers have written and asked a couple of questions…
The answer to the most popular question is… Nope, you do not need a keel for ballast purposes. A keel is mainly about providing a lateral plane to allow the boat to sail to windward but other forms of lateral planes work just as well (centerboards and lee boards come to mind) and, while it is true that using the keel as a handy place to put ballast is no bad thing, it is not the only way to skin a cat… Don’t believe me?
Back when I was a kid I had a Bozo punching clown and the physics involved in punching the clown taught me everything I need to know about internal ballast and the fact that it works just fine.
Hit him once and he pops back up. Hit him a bunch of times and guess what… he still keeping popping up. Wrestle him to the floor and hold him down till he cries “uncle” (hey, I was an imaginative kid) and as soon as you let him go up he comes…
Throw him in the pool and invert him so his head is pointing to the bottom and let go… Guess what happens!
Like I said, internal ballast works just fine!
For those folks who like their facts without the clown element, Wooden Boat Magazine had a great issue about sharpies a bunch of years back and you can buy issue 114 as a digital download for $3.50 (just a warning but our Bolger Loose Moose 2 design was a featured sidebar).