This past season, I spent a great deal of time on my Northern 1/4 ton (same as a Mirage 24) trying to figure out why I was having reasonable weather helm on starboard tack but a bit of lee helm on a port tack. After countless adjustments to rigging, sails, and rudder, I kind of gave up on things and learned to ignore it. Fast forward to lift out last week- when placed in her cradle, I sized up the hull and noticed that my keel was bent/canted to starboard:
At the bottom, it is off center by about 2 inches. There's no sign of damage to the hull around the keel or the keel bolts, and I don't recall any hard groundings recently. My best guess is that the boat went into her cradle a bit tilted in the last few years and gradually bent herself this way. This bend was not present when I bought the boat three years ago.
So now I'm left with that timeless dilemma of what to do. I see a few options:
Option 1- leave well enough alone. The boat still sails fine (albeit with the helm issue), and an attempt at repair may be more effort than the boat is worth, or may just cause bigger problems.
Option 2- Attempt a fix by jacking up the stern of the boat enough to take weight off of the keel, putting straps on the top of the keel to reduce lever force on the hull, and use a come along or winch on the bottom to try to pull it back in to alignment. I'm sure there are a million things that could go wrong with this.
Option 3- wait until lift-out next year and modify the cradle to allow me to attempt a fix then without having to jack up the boat.
I'd love to hear any thoughts on best course of action or other potential fixes!