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Shadbjohnson 08-29-2011 02:52 PM

How far can I heel over? Will I tip?
My father and I just purchased a 32 foot Catalina and am feeling a bit uneasy when the wind kicks up. We are sailing off the coast of Long Beach, CA and just want to know if it's possible to tip this boat over? I have been getting the rail pretty close to the water very consistently but keep backing off for fear of tipping. I would like to go as fast and heel over as much as possible, all the time staying safe. How far is too far over? Am I even close to the limit? I have sailed 22 & 14 ft boats and this is a whole new world.

Any and all advice would be much appreciated!

Ajax_MD 08-29-2011 03:00 PM

There is not a linear correlation between heel and speed. Eventually, you are heeled over so far, that the keel is not doing it's job, and all you're doing is sliding sideways and going slow. It looks exciting, but that's about it.

Keep it between 10-25 degrees. You can buy an inclinometer at West Marine or

Donna_F 08-29-2011 03:07 PM

What Bubble said. Most modern cruising boats are not designed to sail efficiently heeled over and the tub (said lovingly) that is a Catalina, definitely not. It's exciting, but chances are you won't get there faster.

I think, theoretically, it's possible to capsize any boat.

jackdale 08-29-2011 03:15 PM


Originally Posted by DRFerron (Post 767470)

I think, theoretically, it's possible to capsize any boat.

In protected waters, it is virtually impossible. The laws of physics will prevent it on a keel boat. As the boat heels the effective area of the sails is reduced and the righting moment of the keel is increased.

(EDIT) - spinnakers are a different matter.

In the open ocean, waves will capsize a boat.

sailingfool 08-29-2011 03:16 PM

54 Attachment(s)
Practically speaking you cannot tip over a keel boat like a Cat32 with white sails. If the boat heels excessively, it will automatically turn towards the wind, overwhelming any effort you could make to maintain let alone increase, the heel angle.

Over 20 degrees or so of heel, most boats start to experience increasing sideslip so progress upwind is actually reduced by the excessive heel.

If you really go looking for trouble...large sea action or an out-of-control spinnaker can lay a keel boat over, or even roll one, but for most production boats like Catalina, the boat's inherent stability will roll it back...

WDS123 08-29-2011 03:30 PM

The Wind can get rather heavy in the late afternoon outside in LB.

How far can you heel over ? - until 'green' water is flowing over the gunwhales

How far should you heel over for speed ? - Heeling modern boats beyond 10-20 degrees produces a sensation of speed, but all you are doing is moving sideways faster.

Ease the main in puffs, tighten in lulls - it is called "working the main".

Have fun - and keep us posted !

celenoglu 08-29-2011 03:38 PM

You cannot capsize a keel boat with wind alone. It needs breaking waves much higher than the width of the boat.

The rule of thumb for maximum hell is 17 degrees. This might vary from boat to boat. But after this degree you will be loosing speed therefore it is best to reduce sail or change to more favorable wind angle.

Shadbjohnson 08-29-2011 03:40 PM

Wow! Thank you all so much for such quick replies with fantastic information!!!


MikeinLA 08-29-2011 09:52 PM

If you're out and the wind builds, but you don't want to reef the main, letting the jib out will spill some of the wind and decrease heel. It's not the most efficient way to sail, but I've done it myself on occasion when I had "sensitive" passengers onboard. Also, if you ever get real scared, just point the boat straight into the wind. Everything will stop, the boat will right itself from heeling, and you can take a second to gather your thoughts.


Sublime 08-29-2011 10:39 PM

Here's a video that demonstrates what will most likely happen if she goes too far over:
huntercapsize02 - YouTube

You won't be up a creek but it'll cause a mess. Hopefully you can hang on until she pops back up.

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