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1979 C&C 30 Mk I - 2QM15
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172 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Has anyone ever heard the term "Catalina Smile" or "C&C Smile" ? I looked at a 79 C&C today that had what appeared to be a crack in the leading edge of the keel about 8 inches down from the hull. It was filled with some type of filler material but definitely visible on both sides.

I asked the owner if it was caused by a hard grounding and he said no, it was somewhat typical for keels on boats of this vintage (late 70's early 80's) to have what he called the "Catalina Smile" crack in the front of the keel. He said most people try refilling it each year with some sort of flexible filler. But generally most need to have this redone each season.


When I asked if there was any type of permanent fix that could be done on this. He said that he wasn't aware of anything that would last for more than a full season on most boats.

Has anyone else ever hear of this? If so what causes it? How serious of a problem is it? How concerned should I be? And is anyone here aware of a permanent fix for this type of crack?

I found a reference to it here: "Catalina Smile" along with Catalina's rather expensive sounding recommendation of how to fix / rebuild it.

Here "C&C Smile Repair" I found a C&C with the exact same issue that tried fixing it with just filler compound. But no follow up as to how long the repair lasted.
 

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Dirt Free
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what size C&C ? Some of them are as you descibed ie. annual maintenance issues but on some C&C models it may be indicative of serious structural issues.
 

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Sea Slacker
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pretty much every older Catalina in the yard next to me has one :) its a fact of life, apparently not too scary if properly maintained.
 

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Telstar 28
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993 Posts
LOL... yes, this is a very well known issue. IIRC, in many cases, it was due to the fact that Catalina, in a less than wise move, used plywood in the bilge for the keel support. Maine Sail has some very disturbing photos of what happens to plywood in a bilge.. .... it ain't pretty. :) C&C may have had the same issues with some of their boats.

Yes, there is a proper fix, but it involves dropping the keel, removing the rotted plywood and rebuilding the keel support area with a very thick layer of fiberglass, and then rebedding the keel. While you're at it, you should probably inspect the 30 year old keel bolts and replace them as necessary. :)

Filling the crack with filler compound is going to look like a repair, but it really isn't—it's just a cosmetic cover up of the problem.
Without rebuilding the keel support inside the hull, rebedding the keel and torquing the keel bolts to the proper specification, you run the risk of losing the keel and if that happens you could be killed, as happened in the Cynthia Woods sailboat case, when it lost its keel.
 

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1979 C&C 30 Mk I - 2QM15
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172 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is a C&C 30'... I took pics if you want to see this particular crack. But it looks very similar to the "C&C Smile" link that I posted above.
 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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Five catalina 30s in my YC all have the "smile" one owner did fix his, he's a machinist btw, Made very large washers or plates for the keel bolts and used I think he said 7 tubes of 5200 between the keel and hull.
 

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Dirt Free
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The C&C 30 is not one of the C&C problem hulls. Most 30's have been raced and likely need the keel bolts torqued which is an often overlooked maintenance item on a racer. The cracks occur due to the different expansion rates of lead and FRP and the joint filler being somewhat brittle. Some people use 5200 as a filler which allows for a little give.
If the keel bolts are sound and the boat has not been grounded I would'nt worry about it too much. Tap the leading lower edge of the keel with a small hammer to determine if it has been damaged and repaired with filler and check for fractures in the liner around the aft end of the keel.
 

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Telstar 28
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While the C&C 30 may not typically have a structural issue with the "smile", I would hesitate to say it is just that the keel bolts need to be re-torqued without doing an inspection of the boat. Also, given that the keel bolts are probably original to the boat, corrosion could be a factor—and it is probably a wise idea to inspect 30 year old keel bolts regardless. :)
 

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Dirt Free
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While the C&C 30 may not typically have a structural issue with the "smile", I would hesitate to say it is just that the keel bolts need to be re-torqued without doing an inspection of the boat. Also, given that the keel bolts are probably original to the boat, corrosion could be a factor—and it is probably a wise idea to inspect 30 year old keel bolts regardless. :)

Agreed ! thats why I said "if the keel bolts are sound"
 

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Keel Bolt Torque

Does anybody know what the keel bolts should be torqued to? I know this will probably vary from one design to another but do builders actually recommend torque specs or is there some sort of guide as to how tight they should be by feel?
 
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