Skip to main content

Ask SAIL: A Crack in the Keel

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:
Keel

Although this crack is likely cosmetic, it still needs to be watched

Q: I am the owner of a 1985 Cal 22 sailboat that is moored during the season in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The boat is in very good condition; however, when I pulled it out of the water at the end of the season in early October this year I noticed a slight crack in the keel that extends around the entire keel, about one third down from the hull. A friend looked at this condition and called it the “Catalina Smile,” explaining the crack occurs on older boats where the hull meets the bolted on keel. I am wondering if this condition requires immediate repair, and if so, what type of repairs are needed.

Bill Jonkey, Minden, NV

DON CASEY REPLIES

Your friend is right, although Catalina has no special claim to keel smile. Well, maybe some claim because the company unwisely used plywood in its keel stubs up until around 1987 or 1988, which has tended to make the “Catalina smile” somewhat broader than some others. The crack exhibited in your photo is more or less normal for a 30-year-old boat with a bolt-on keel. Plastic boats flex; metal keels don’t. I doubt that your smile requires any action, but before you repaint the bottom, you would not be wrong to reef out the crack a bit with a wire brush and give it three or four coats of an epoxy primer (Interlux Epoxy Primecote or something similar). If you still have a gap, fill it with a troweled application of polyurethane sealant, like 3M 5200, and then let the sealant cure for a week before painting. Moving forward, just watch the area every year. If the smile doesn’t return, or even if it does but not any wider, deal with it cosmetically. However, if it shows any signs of widening, you may need to re-torque the keel bolts. The definitive repair is to drop the keel, check the bolts, perfect the mating surface and reattach on a fresh sealant bed. However, the current condition of your boat doesn’t suggest anything this drastic.

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

April 2017

Related

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more

bermuda

How to Spectate on the Newport Bermuda

The biannual Newport Bermuda Race starts on Friday with the first warning signal at 1 pm. Whether you’re tracking a loved one’s progress or just spectating an event that draws pros and weekend warriors alike, there are plenty of ways to stay up to watch. The starting line will ...read more

03-Hyeres-220429_SOF2022_SAILINGENERGY_1933_3184-copy

US Sailing Strikes Gold in Hyères

After being skunked or nearly skunked at multiple Olympiads, could the US Sailing Team (USST) now under the direction of Olympic veteran Paul Cayard, be finally turning it around? If its performance at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyères, France, where the team posted ...read more

P1480042

New York City’s Newest Fleet

120 children enrolled in Brooklyn Boatworks’ STEM and life skills-focused program launched their hand-built optimist prams on June 14 from Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The launch is the culmination of years of student work, with boats in process before the pandemic caused the ...read more

AdobeStock_197518370

Charter: Off the Beaten Path

So, you like to charter in the Caribbean with its warm waters, swaying palm trees, steady trade winds and strong rum drinks. What’s not to love? It can be easy, though, to get stuck in a rut when chartering year after year in the same place. Sure, the British Virgin Islands are ...read more