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  #1  
Old 11-20-2006
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Keel locking device

Hi all. my partner and I have been sailing our 21' Boomerang for around 5 months with n ot alot of previous sailing experience.

We went for a sail on Westernport Bay, thats in Victoria Austraila, over the weekend and had a blast. We had nice light air in the morning and the wind swung 180 degrees and picked up to 15 knots. Having to beat back into the wind and a building swell to get back to the boat ramp the boat was pitching a fair bit. At one stage I thought I felt the keel lift and drop down again. looking down into the cabin I then notice a fair puddle that I hadnt seen before, not that I was looking though.

The keel is a dagger board design lowered on a winch through the hull with a seal of sorts that its 400lb just sits on. I hadnt seen water come through there unless we did stupid things like try to lower or raise it whilst doing more that a couple of knots ( part of the learning curve Doh). I have heard stories of keels lifting then smashing back down and through the bottom of the boats, not that I think ours can do that as the cable holds it from going down to far. Can anybody give me some advice as to waht I should do to lock it down as it doesnt have a lock of its own?

Keep it black side down

Mick
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Old 11-22-2006
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I'm not familiar with the Boomerang in particular, but I think the weight of the board in a small boat with a ballasted keel/centerboard is ordinarily enough to hold it down in a choppy sea. I've seen some small boats with a device to hold the board down, and others without. I think the reason for such a device is not so much to hold the board down in normal sailing, but to prevent the heavy board from slamming up into the centerboard trunk if the boat is inverted by a big wave. A number of such boats have had holes ripped in their bottoms, and have sunk. Boats with the heaviest movable centerboards seem to be the least likely to have such devices. I think the reason is because a 1500# board is in no danger of lifting and pounding in a seaway, and, if the boat rolls over, it would be very difficult to design a device to hold such a heavy keel in place. The manufacturer's advice would probably be, "Don't sail the boat when it's that rough."

Small boats with that type of keel/CB are not usually designed to be sailed in heavy weather. They're primarily designed for fair weather, bay and lake sailing, and coastal sailing in relatively fair weather. That's not to say that they're fragile or unseaworthy, because a little pounding usually won't hurt them, but they can't survive a roll-over without serious damage. When the waves get big enough to become uncomfortable and cause such a boat to pound, they're also getting big enough to be capable of capsizing the boat, especially if you stray into a shallow area that can create breakers. When you sense that the boat is starting to struggle and pound due to the condition of the seas, it's time to take the boat to shelter. If you sail the boat in the conditions for which it was designed, you won't likely have any problems.
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Old 11-22-2006
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Centerboards and daggerboards can sometimes be locked down, but keels including lift keels usually rely on their own weight to hold them down. That's one reason some folks call them unsuitable for bluewater sailing, because they are free to move and during a rollover or other violent move they can become powerful weapons.

If you wanted to rig some type of lock for your keel that's probably a simple (ha) matter of carpentry but, as sailormon hints, the rest of the boat may not be up to the strains of holding that mass in that weather. You might want to check with the maker, or with someone more familiar with the structure of the hull.
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Old 11-22-2006
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There's one thing I would add. If you get caught out in rough weather, and the boat is starting to pound and cause you concern, you can greatly reduce the stress on the boat by reducing your sail area, and thereby reducing your speed. Even though they aren't designed for heavy weather, they'll take good care of you if you don't press them too hard.
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