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

02-'17-Trans-Atlantic_Downwind-Schralpin

At The Helm: Man Overboard!

Imagine this simple scenario: the boat’s powered up, sailing close-hauled in a building breeze under full sail. I come on deck as the skipper during the watch change to make sure the new crew is comfortable and the boat is properly set up for both the current conditions and ...read more

Promo-01-LEAD-MGR00321

Contrasting X-Yachts & Moody Cruisers

One of the most fascinating things about sailboats is the different ways that sailors, naval architects and builders will approach a single design problem. The result has been a bewildering array of rigs and hull forms over the years, and in the case of the two boats we’ll be ...read more

04-Yacht-anchored-in-front-of-one-of-Lastovo's-gunboat-tunnels-(3)

Cruising Charter to Croatia

As is the case with so much of the Mediterranean, to sail in Croatia is to take a journey through time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks traded amphoras of oil, wine and grain across these waters. During the first millennium, the Romans built lavish palaces and ...read more

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more