I have owned an Irwin 37 for a number of years and just discovered in a recent haulout that it has a centerboard hidden in a slot in the keel. Nothing in the interior of the boat seems to be connected to the board to operate it. Do you know how the board was meant to be operated?
Sue and Larry respond:
What a surprise that must have been for you! The Irwin 37 was built with three different keel configurations. The standard keel has a draft of five feet six inches; the shoal keel sports a four-foot draft; and what you've discovered that you now own is the keel/centerboard version. This is the same keel as the shoal-draft model with a centerboard that extends to eight feet of draft when fully deployed.
If your centerboard has been in the up position for all the years that you have owned the boat, and who knows how many before that, chances are it's good and
stuck! Corrosion, marine growth, bottom paint, and who knows what else is
probably holding your centerboard up. It's possible that a previous owner decided that the centerboard was more of a problem than it was worth, and therefore had it fixed permanently in the up position. Thus the reason you find no evidence of a raising and lowering mechanism.
It's very common to have problems with swing keels or centerboards on boats this size. They require diligent maintenance and upkeep to ensure smooth operation. So if you've been happy with the windward performance of your Irwin to date, your best course of action may just be to let sleeping dogs lie. If you do want to pursue making your centerboard operational again, you might want to contact one of the Irwin owner's groups, or the company itself for more information and help. Here at SailNet, you can join the Irwin owners e-mail discussion group. Also, Irwin Yachts has a website: Irwinyacht.com with an e-mail address for information on older models (contact email@example.com). Associated with this website is an owner's list with about 55 individual Irwin 37 owners whose e-mail addresses are listed. You'll find this at: www.Irwinyacht.com/assoc/ownersemail.htm. And there's yet another Irwin owner's website at angelfire.com/sys/popup_source.shtml.
Best of luck with your new centerboarder.