Gilliane Sills
I'm posting this message for Richard Ayres, a new member. He's recently seen a Parker 275, and is v keen for advice. He says:

My main concern moving from a bilge keeler and in my home waters of S devon is how would the 275 take the ground? I now see that the bottom of the boat is pretty well flat, but with a little skeg to protect the prop. Until one is actually grounded it is often not possible to see what the substrate that the boat will sit on is like. Often there are rocks etc and my concern is about whether there is a risk of damaging the boat, and especially the skeg and propeller if one is unlucky with what you end up sitting on?
Also, do sand and stones sometimes get into the keel box and get it stuck?
I have no experience of lifting keel yachts and (since I saw the boat on my own, the owner has unfortunately passed away) I could not work out how to lift the keel. I could see a 12mm rope disappearing vertically down just forr'd of the mast, and a lighter rope also, but I could not get any movement of the keel (keel is down, boat been standing on a trailer for a long time). I assume that the lighter rope works a locking mechanism and then the 12mm sheet is winched from the cockpit - so perhaps this keel is simply stuck from lack of use?
Finally, the spec says that both main cabin seats can be used as bunks, but both seem too short - they are also very low (no cushions) but maybe I am missing something.
I can absolutely see the appeal of these boats, it is mostly the keel/grounding issue that is making me hesitate!
Delphine, Parker 275, no. 41
Welcome to Richard from a fellow PSSA member - a good choice of yacht.
I'll only comment on what I know from my experience and what I've heard from other Parkers and Seals.
1) The risk of damage from grounding on unknown surfaces is very real. Basically, you need to know the nature of the seabed, either by inspection, perhaps from the land or a visit in the tender, or from (recent) visits by other PSSA members. For instance, on Rallies to the head of the Beaulieu River, an advance party makes a visit at low tide to inspect and remove any debris that's accumulated since the last visit. If visiting a Club then they should be able to give advice on the nature of the sea/river bed, eg sand, mud, gravel; level, sloping, deep troughs and banks etc. My 325 also has a skeg to protect the propellor, and the boat has tipped back onto it a couple of times when we'd dried out on a sloping bank; fortunately it's taken the weight. Some members have actually strengthened the skeg - there is a thread on this somewhere.
2) Mud and gravel can and does sometimes get into the dagger board case, and perhaps cause the lift-keel to jam. Ask other owners, and chose the solution you like the best! Some leave the board down just a little, others etc. I can't help because my 325 sits on its wing keel, which means there's less likelihood of material entering the slot - but of course there are other issues associated with a hydraulically operated lifting keel!

Hope to see Richard if and when we head West - we've friends at Shaldon, so often enter Teignmouth.

Best Wishes,

Nosey - Parker 325-26
Richard Ayres
Thanks so much for that reply. Sounds like a lifting keel Parker 275 is a lot more precarious to leave to take the ground than a bilge-keeler. I wonder what specifically is the main danger? Is it that there might be a rock that punctures the hull, or damage from lots of smaller rocks? I think that I read that the bottom of the hull was protected by a steel plate - is that right?
All views or experiences on this topic from members with these yachts would be very much appreciated!
Ken Surplice
Hi Richard. These yachts are built to dry out safely. I’ve had a 21 and now a 275 for ~20 years.

The 275 lives on a drying mooring. The curvature of the hull means the propeller is always safe when drying, even on firm sand. I’ve never had a hesitant or stuck keel. As the keel fully retracts, the boat will be flat and stable when the tide goes out. Compare this with a bilge keeler I once saw at East Head in Chichester harbour, dried out on the sand but leaning precariously. The skipper was digging furiously to persuade the higher of the two keels to sink.

Where you should be careful:
The bottom should be mud, sand or shingle. Avoid lumpy stuff that will damage the gel coat
Ensure there is no risk of wave action that would bang the hull in the final moments of drying[/list]
Richard Ayres
Thanks so much for that reassurance Ken. My concern is that its not always possible to know exactly what is there when choosing a spot - but I guess with such a shallow draft when the keel is up one could just walk around and find out!
Ken Surplice

Richard, you are so right.

If the bottom is decent mud, not the sort you would want to walk in, you will get a good cushioning anyway even if there are a few larger chunks of rock about.

If the water is clear you will have peace of mind and can even walk out the anchor. It is very satisfying to head to the shallows on a falling tide, descend into the sea (seasonal water temperature permitting) and walk around to check.
I do enjoy leading the boat by hand, a bit like leading a horse.

A great trick when you are very shallow and want to set off, having raised the anchor, is to leave keel and rudder fully up, and push firmly on the transom as you walk on the bottom. Once the boat is moving you can climb up your stern ladder and keep going. At low speeds you can steer with the rudder floating horizontally, so lower the rudder until it floats, start the engine and off you go. Lower the keel a little once you have sufficient depth.

If you know the south coast, examples of places Parkers and Seals like to dry out include: Bembridge harbour entrance, East Head, Wooton Creek, Ryde, Gosport Cruising Club basin, Newport, Eling, Beaulieu, Newtown, Keyhaven, Studland (before new restrictions), Poole Harbour, Looe and Gweek.