Cornish Yawls could be ordered as long keel with bilge plates, or with a pivoting centre plate and beaching legs. ‘Lucy’ was the long keel variety, but at some stage she was adapted and a sort of fin keel added.
The benefits of the bilge plates is that the boat can sit comfortably on a drying mooring, is shallow enough to sail in shoal waters, and will take to the ground on a beach. The centre plate version possibly offered better performance to windward. You paid your money and took your choice.
My guess is that a previous owner wanted to add more weight down below to make her less tippy and sail better to windward. I’ve discovered that the design of her fin type keel was overseen by Roger Dongray, the original Cornish Yawl designer, and from it’s size could be up to 300kg in weight – that’s three times the weight of the centre plate. It also means that the cabin doesn’t have a box rising from the floor like the centre plate versions do.
The keel was fabricated and fitted at Falmouth Boat Construction Ltd in Flushing, Falmouth, although I don’t know when. They were able to furnish me with some of the photographs of the work.
After being treated it was bolted through the long keel, with the joint between the two make good with tar, or such like. You can see that it tapers, so the boat sits level when resting on it, rather than at an angle.
In the image above you can see where the bilge plates have been removed. There are substantial plates on the inside where the holes were, although I can’t see much evidence on the outside.
Solid wooden fairings have been fitted to either side of the original long keel to cover the bolts.
I’ve no idea how this boat sails, but experience tells me that the extra weight, and longer, deeper profile, should make her sail well. I also believe that this ‘fin’ may have been added as ‘development work’ ahead of the launch of the design of the Crabber 24, which superseded the Cornish Yawl. Have a look at the image below of a Crabber 24. It does look quite similar.