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JacobI 07-18-2011 12:48 AM

Examining for potential swing-keel failure
Greetings everyone,

This is my first post on SailNet, but I have been reading a tremendous amount of material. I'm new to sailing; I took a class a few weekends ago and I'm hooked. Now I'm looking to purchase my first boat to sail exclusively on a nearby lake.

I'm looking at several late-80s Catalina 22s. The closest marine surveyor is about a 4 hour drive away, which is just not cost effective with the low price point of the boat, so I'm trying to be as diligent as a I can be.

I've found a lot of good "inspect a used boat" checklists and they've been very helpful. But one thing seems to keep stumping me: checking the swing keel to make sure it won't fail on me.

From what I can read, there are 2 basic ways it can fail that I should be worried about:

1) The cable that raises the keel can fail. While this has to be fixed to trailer the boat, it's not terribly dangerous.
2) The keel can fall from the boat, either because the copper pin failed or the hole on the top of the keel expanded to the point that it wore through the keel.

Most of the boats I'm looking at have only been freshwater sailed and have spent about half the year in the water, then dry stored in the winter.

Having read a ton of articles about this, I am stuck with one big question: is there a good, quick way to figure out if the boat in front of me has a keel that's about to fall off? I've read a lot of good articles about removing the keel and working on it int he offseason. It's very possible that something like that is in the works for this winter, but I want to make sure whatever I buy can make it through the rest of this sailing season at least.

Can anyone suggest a good way to make this check while the boat is still on the trailer? I don't need to know that it's perfect, just that I can sail with it for a few months before winter comes.


TQA 07-18-2011 12:01 PM


I bought a Jaguar 22 some years ago UK copy of the Catalina 22 and had the same wories. I think the risk of cable failure is always there and I guess MTBF to be about 5 to 10 years but the pin is another matter.

The pin is an area of known weakness with several failures reported. I can see no way to check it short of removal and inspection.

CalebD 07-18-2011 01:31 PM

Can you remove the pin (fulcrum) while the boat is on the trailer? If so you can inspect it.
To inspect the cable it would be easiest if the boat could be raised in a TravelLift slings or a crane and then lower the board for inspection of cable attachment point.
Can you look up the center board trunk using small pieces of mirror and a flashlight while still on the trailer?
You should be able to inspect the upper portions of the cable for 'meat hooks' somewhere inside the boat too.

mitiempo 07-18-2011 02:09 PM

Here's a link to a Catalina 22 owner's manual - scroll down a wee bit for keel info. It is for the 1977 model but I doubt the keel changed much.

Pin is easily removable - bronze not copper by the way.

SPC 07-19-2011 02:54 PM

Also, owners of that boat who do their own work are good surveyors for that boat.

Maybe you can ask someone to look it over with you as a friend, no strings attached -- not as good perhaps but owners probably are well aware of the typical problems and some look at boats for fun.

JacobI 07-19-2011 08:21 PM

Thank you all for your suggestions!

UPHILL 07-19-2011 09:29 PM

"Can anyone suggest a good way to make this check while the boat is still on the trailer? I don't need to know that it's perfect, just that I can sail with it for a few months before winter comes."

When the boat is on the trailer, crawl under (about a foot back from the front of the keel) and check the 4 bolts ( 9/16 head) 2 on each side, make sure they are there or are not rusted. They bolt into the hull and hold the "pin". If they look alright you can presume that you will be good to go for the season. replace and add a few shims in the winter if needed. As for the cable, can't say I have had a problem. Sure you could take a swim when it is the water and take a look. Seems it would be easy to change while in the water, maybe....

Hope that helps, I replaced the bolts in our C-22 year or so ago.

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