Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Wilson, NY
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Safe angle of heel
By long keeled do you mean full keel? As jeff answered, many of these older full keel boats are narrow. They will typically have an intitial tendency to heel quickly (tender), but often settle into a groove which one can easlily feel. If the boat is reasonabley well designed, a gust often will dip the rail under, but they ride it out. I had an old Paceship Eastwind 25 (''64) and she used to regularily put the rail in. She would even keep going with water splashing over the cockpit combing. I was young, daring, and foolish back then, but this boat never did lay flat over, though we took some mild knock downs that brought solid water into the cockpit.
The boat will tell you when it is unhappy - weather helm is a great indicator, Also, use your knot meter and determine where the boat is fastest - that is where it is happiest.
Until you are sure, continue to reef early and reduce headsail as well. The previous owners probably know their boat.
My guess is that you are probably being a bit conservative, but there is nothing wrong with that. Give it some time - you will learn the limits of your boat and easing into that is a good thing. Generally speaking, our boats can take more than we can give them.