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I regularly attend concerts on my boat and sometimes motor to them because of their close proximity to my marina. looking for an opinion as to when the keel should be down and when it should be up. Right now the only time I drop the keel is when I sail but I'm wondering if it would benefit me by lowering it when I motor or sit anchored. Boat is a 1977 26' fractional rig with a traditional swing keel that is operated by a winch. Attached pictures are the triangular base that is attached to the bottom of the boat and 2 sections that when are bloted together weight about 750#'s and tale the draft from 2'6" when folded up to 6' when let down.
 

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I use mine half down when motoring. I get better helm control and helps auto keep a straight course. It would be nice to have down when anchored, it would dampen the rolling, but mine bangs around. I'd rather get rocked to sleep.

And it all depends on you boat.
 

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On my boat Cat 22 I dont notice any loss of speed with the keel down while motoring.
I lower the keel as soon as I clear the jetty and leave it down untill I pull back onto the trailer.
The motion is better with the keel down and the keel (on my boat) is not designed to be up.
IMHO

Our lake water is incredibly clear so I jist pick a spot where I wont swing over larger rocks.
If I was anchoring in murky unfamiliar water I would most likely raise keel rudder and outboard untill I was sure there was no hidden obstructions.
 

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I use mine half down when motoring. I get better helm control and helps auto keep a straight course. It would be nice to have down when anchored, it would dampen the rolling, but mine bangs around. I'd rather get rocked to sleep.

And it all depends on you boat.
Exactly what he said! I have a 25' Mac with swing keel. :D
 

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If you're just motoring, I wouldn't worry about lowering it, unless you were attempting to motor through a hurricane or something of the like, OR if you are having a tricky time with certain turns, it might help to give you a little more control in certain situations if you're getting blown sideways a lot, but on the basic, in light conditions, probably not worth worrying about it.
 

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We had a relatively big center board boat for 10 years...the center board was in a trunk....if you left it down at anchor it would bang around hitting the sides of the trunk when the boat rocked, so we never did.

The boat you got seems to have a weighted centerboard/keel that hinges beneath the boat if I understand it right. Hey, I'd try it down, if it doesn't bang around it might make you more stable at anchor when it's deep enough. It also looks like it leaves enough of a blade in the up position for motoring.

Cool boat.
 

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There are two swing keel hazards that are often overlooked. First, if the hoisting mechanism of a heavily ballasted swing keel drops suddenly (as they do occasionally), it commonly does catastrophic damage to the hull. As a result most manufacturers recommend that the keel generally be kept down at all times, and that the mechanism be regularly inspected and maintained. Edit: Looking more closely at your photos, your system might be more robust than some, and it might tolerate a sudden drop better than less sturdy designs, but personally, I'd still make a point of keeping it down. A sudden drop of 750 lbs can't be a good thing. Secondly, if a swing keel boat is overloaded with passengers with the keel retracted, it can roll over suddenly if the passengers move to one side.
 

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I'm always harping on my dockmate/buddy about him leaving his keel up.

I can tell when it's up when he comes in by the amount of drift from the boat (leeway) . Leave it down.
It's a warning device for shallow water and offers more control.
 

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Have hit some big wakes from yachts with the swing keel up. Awful.

After that, I always, always have it down unless the boat is docked.
Good point. With the keel up if you get hit with bad wakes it can be horrendous. We got hit once while on the hook by two boats coming into the cove, with a bunch of jet ski's following intentionally making huge wakes for them to jump. When it hit us it was confused 4/5' seas about 3/4' apart. Seemed like it was going to take the mast off. Still, anchoring with it down sounds like someone is beating a base drum. Not sleep inducing at all.
 

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I leave it 1/4 to 1/2 when coming in. I have a 24 ft with water ballast and swing keel. It's nice hauling in on narrow diameter line vs cranking a winch! I second at anchor though. I sway back and forth more but the keel slams inside the trunk even with a tiny wake. Not enough to do damage but loud enough to be annoying.
 

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I have extensive experience with swing keel boats (all of eleven days) and I've left my keel down the whole time. Doesn't seem like it hurts anything and I'm sure it adds stability. Catalina Direct sells a keel spacer kit to eliminate the thunk, but I've only noticed it a little bit when sailing, never when swinging on the mooring. I'm sure all boats are different.
 

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My 35 ft sloop has a weighted swing keel of about 3000#. There is no vestigial keel, so the boat is beachable, if you don't care about your bottom paint. With the keel completely retracted the turning radius increases dramatically and control in tight quarters quickly goes south in a cross wind.

In my case, I leave the keel down almost all the time when the water is deep enough to handle the 6' draft. I've checked my speed with the keel in various positions and don't see a huge difference when the keel is up vs. down. Having the keel down definitely allows us to take monster wakes with more comfort. If we need to motor a long distance, we might raise the keel to get the extra fractional knot, as long as the seas are calm (otherwise we'd likely be sailing!)

With an 11' beam, we have enough form stability that we don't need the keel down at night, which allows us to seek a shallow water spot for the night.
 

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The answer will certainly vary from boat to boat. My Precision 23 has 850 pounds of ballast in it's fixed keel, which draws about 2.5 feet. The centerboard weight is under a 100 pounds and with it down, the boat draws about 5 feet.

Because the ballast isn't in the centerboardl, and the it can rattle around in the slot when down, it's only down when I'm under sail, but not always when I'm sailing downwind.

So, my answer on a Precision 23 is keel up for motoring.
 

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I have a Hunter 23.5 water ballast boat. I normally keep the board down unless I'm in shallow water or about to put the boat on the trailer. It definately helps turning while motoring to have the board down especially in breezy conditions. It doesn't slow the boat much either. My board doesn't thunk at anchor so I leave it down to stabilize things a bit. My boat does sail on the anchor pretty bad with board up, down or in between. Tried rudder up down and in between with all combinations with the board. Oh well. LOL.

Kevin
 
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