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Old 13-04-2016, 04:26   #1
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Help me to understand Swingkeels

I have been looking to downsize my current vessel to a more manageable, maneuverable and cost effective size. This search for a pocket cruiser has lead me down two distinct paths, trailerable and semi trailerable. My budget is $5000 Canadian for the purchase including transport costs, but I will be able to free up cash for upgrades and goodies over time.

Cruising grounds are mostly fresh, sheltered waters, specifically, St Lawrence, Ottawa, and Rideau Rivers with occasional trips to Lake Ontario, Georgian Bay, Lake Champlain and the Gulf of St Lawrence- for now. The crew consists of a reasonably capable sailor (me), my wife who has lived aboard larger vessels, my small son, also a former live aboard and my hound dog, for now any way.

My back up plan is a semi-trailerable fixed keel boat, I have seen a couple of very nice boats in my area in my price range including a Grampian 26 and Halman 20. The way I see it these boats are trailer once a year jobs, crane out on to the trailer, drive them 2 km home to my drive way and take them back again in the spring. They just aren't quite what I want.

My first choice is a fully trailerable swing keel or keel + centreboard option. The boat would be kept in the water at a fresh water marina for 6 months a year, but I would have the option to trailer it to near by sailing grounds, such as Toronto, North Channel, potentially even North Carolina and even Florida when I chose.

My problem is I know nothing about these boats, aside from what I have found searching the archives on this site, a couple of other sights and a few online articles, I have never sailed one or even been on one.

As the price is under $5000 and I won't be insuring it, I'm not going to bother with a survey. Does any one have tips on self surveying the keel areas on these boats? I have read the boat should have the capability to lock down the keel in order to maintain your righting moment in the event of a knockdown. What should I look for, for a lockdown mechanism?

Specifically, this week end I am looking at an early 70's CS 22, I believe they are very similar to Catalina 22's and Bomaroo 22's of the same era for any Aussies or Americans reading. Sails, rigging, motor, trailer etc. are advertised to be in good shape, and I know what to look for with these items. Any tips on what I should look for in the keel area?

I don't believe the CS 22 is a true swing keel, but rather a boat with a low profile keel and a centre board, so this boat should be relatively stable in a knockdown, even in the event of a centre board failure? I believe there is 1100 lbs of ballast in the fixed keel. I am not sure I understand the design fully, but I assume a 22 foot boat would not have an 1100 lb swing keel?

I read a couple of opinions on another sight these boats are only sailable in sub 15 knot winds? This can't be true? I can see a very light cat boat being limited to such light conditions, but I can't imagine any sloop, especially with reefing points being limited to 15 knot winds, sounds like hogwash to me, but let me know if you have had experiences that support this.

Any CS 22 owners on here with tips for me?
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Old 13-04-2016, 04:44   #2
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

I have owned two Sk boats. An RL24 and an RL28. (RL=Rob Legg).

The 24 had a simple 6:1 pulley system to raise it. (some have small winches)
The 28 had a hydrolic system.

The main thing to look for is the Swing Pin. How strong is it and has it aged and "thinned out". Its also a good place for leaks.

Both my boats had cast iron keels. These can suffer from rust and electrolosis. As I was regularly racing the 24, I removed the keel, faired it and re-tarred it due to some rust and pitting. I only did that once in the ten years I owned the boat.

I never really looked at the entire keel on the 28 .

If you are going to moor the boat, you will need to consider antifouling the inside of the case as well as the keel itself. One of the biggest problems I have heard of is moored boats ending up with a keel stuck in the case. This was often due to a mix of shell build up and uncared for keels.

Re the CS22 I am sure someone else here will know about the Ballast vs Keel weights. Good Luck.
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Old 13-04-2016, 05:10   #3
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

For some basic information, check out ➥ Used Sailboats in central Canada
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Old 13-04-2016, 05:12   #4
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

My first boat was the Macgregor 26 classic (not the motor sailor) with a swing keel. Reefed down there was no problem sailing in 25 knots of wind in protected coastal areas.
Had much fun with her and learned a great deal. So yes your right that competently sailed you can safely sail above 15 knots, as your well aware you just have to play around with her like any boat to find what she can and can't do.

In my experience with the swing keel, Once you start heading into more open areas where ocean swells are a factor or even very rough water, I found the swing keel would bang around which always made me nervous of it cracking off or damaging the hull, not that it actually would. The boat being fairly light, I believe it had around a 3000 lb displacement, was at its max for comfortable handling at around those wind speeds, IMO. Not saying that she can't be sailed in more challenging conditions.
The width of the keel was fairly narrow also and I found that in strong winds there would also be some side slip.
I have also sailed in a mac with a centre board and it sailed very solid compared to the swing keel.
I would choose the centre board or fixed rather than the swing.
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Old 13-04-2016, 05:58   #5
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

I have a Chrysler 22 swing keel...

As Oz says, the pivot pin assembly is the "wearable point" and definitely needs to be made sure it is in serviceable shape...

I don't have a way to lock down my keel... Estimated 600 lb at 3ft long???

Last time I had her out it was blowing 20-30kt, and was the most fun I ever had on her...
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Old 13-04-2016, 06:00   #6
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Whether or not it needs to be able to lock the keel down depends on whether or not the keel is a significant part of the ballast. The last swing keel boat that I had (other than little, centerboard daysailers) was a San Juan 23. This had a stub keel that contained the ballast. The centerboard was relatively light weight. Hence, it needed no lock-down mechanism. Quite a few pocket cruisers are made this way.
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Old 13-04-2016, 06:02   #7
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

All good information!

Nicholson31, if I understand correctly, the keel knock concern is as much a function of sea state as wind speed?

What I am imagining from your explanation, if sailing hard in a chop, water pressure on the keel may help to reduce the keel knock, but if wallowing in a swell it can be annoying and unnerving? Possibly really annoying if anchored in a swell?

When motoring, do people generally leave there swing keels up and just lower them for sailing?

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Old 13-04-2016, 06:08   #8
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Along with Oz and Happy on the pivot pin...also check/replace keel pendant, much better to replace before failure...
Good hunting!


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Old 13-04-2016, 06:20   #9
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Check the cable lift system, viewed one swing keel that sank at the dock. Flawed design, the lift cable had snapped and the keel dropped, pulling the control rod out past the stuffing box. The guide tube/stuffing box was horizontal at the bottom of the bilge, not a failsafe design at all. Sorry, can't remember which boat, couple of years back.
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Old 13-04-2016, 07:00   #10
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Whether or not it needs to be able to lock the keel down depends on whether or not the keel is a significant part of the ballast. The last swing keel boat that I had (other than little, centerboard daysailers) was a San Juan 23. This had a stub keel that contained the ballast. The centerboard was relatively light weight. Hence, it needed no lock-down mechanism. Quite a few pocket cruisers are made this way.
Indeed... Never saw a need for a lockdown on the Chrysler swing, but DEFINITELY on the Potter drop keel...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungvar View Post
All good information!

Nicholson31, if I understand correctly, the keel knock concern is as much a function of sea state as wind speed?

What I am imagining from your explanation, if sailing hard in a chop, water pressure on the keel may help to reduce the keel knock, but if wallowing in a swell it can be annoying and unnerving? Possibly really annoying if anchored in a swell?

When motoring, do people generally leave there swing keels up and just lower them for sailing?

Sent from my XP7700 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
They make noise, but it's not unnerving... Function of sideways motion, but not much at all when making way... Some like mine have a mechanism to spring load one side....

Motor up or down... but I leave mine down all the time for stability... Unless things get "too stable" (keel in the mud)

Quote:
Originally Posted by captjcook View Post
Along with Oz and Happy on the pivot pin...also check/replace keel pendant, much better to replace before failure...
Good hunting!
Goodness yes! Good catch Cap'n!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dymaxion View Post
Check the cable lift system, viewed one swing keel that sank at the dock. Flawed design, the lift cable had snapped and the keel dropped, pulling the control rod out past the stuffing box. The guide tube/stuffing box was horizontal at the bottom of the bilge, not a failsafe design at all. Sorry, can't remember which boat, couple of years back.
As relayed here... a sudden impact drop of the keel can ruin your day...
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Old 13-04-2016, 07:08   #11
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Re Keel Locks..

Having keel lock is more than just about ballast. There have been cases where boats have been rolled and the keel has slammed its way through the top of the CB case. Or, worse, not only have they slammed through the top of the case, but they have created significant damage at/near the waterline, thus allowing ingress of water once the boat rights itself.

I would say that a keel lock is an absolute must in any TS/TY.
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Old 13-04-2016, 07:59   #12
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Thanks again for the valuable information to all.

In terms of terminology, I am gathering the pendant is the term for the steel cable that raises and lowers the keel?

More questions on the keel lock. This boat is being sold by the former owners daughter, and the daughter is not familiar with the boat or her equipment.

How am I going to recognise the keel lock?

Will it be a pin that passes through the trunk and keel when it is in the down position?

Does any one have a pic of a keel locking mechanism?

Edit: I found some pics on Google images, I see there are different types, but a pin is most likely.

There is some food for thought here, the thought of an 1100 lb keel free dropping on a 2200 lb boat doesn't sound pleasant. Especially if it decides to rip the bottom out of the boat, not good right side up, very not good if you're upside down.

It sounds like the risk can be mitigated through good maintenance and prudent seamanship though, which is good.

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Old 13-04-2016, 08:39   #13
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Ungvar-

I had a mid-70s ODay 25 with a swing keel (probably more accurate to call it a center-board). Loved the boat. Sailed well, lots of cabin space, not-quite standing headroom (I'm 6'3", nothing in this size lets me stand), nice cockpit with tiller and OB motor. Swing keel was a simple pendant to the trailing end of the board and pulled up (no winch, easy peasy) and cleated at any position (in the cabin). Great for getting in close. The keel stub was enough to sail on a run, and strong to beach at low tide to clean the hull.

The swing keel wasn't ballast, just friction for better windward performance.

Didn't trailer it often, but it was doable and I think trailering to warm climes is a great idea. You'd need a substantial tow vehicle for this unit. I used a Tahoe in and out to the yard for bottom painting.

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Old 13-04-2016, 08:47   #14
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

Hi Ungvar,

Very exciting news that you are searching for your next boat.

FWIW, I live in Kingston, your neck of the woods (this is a global forum after all!)...happy to see your post. If there is anything I can do locally to assist, please ask...happy to help...I have a lot of time on my hands all of a sudden.

Back to boats....

First, with two adults, a child and a dog aboard, its going to be crowded. No way around it.

I owned a Tanzer 22, and it is an excellent boat. Very well built, rugged, easy to sail, yet surprisingly fast and fun! I would not hesitate to recommend a T22. The swing keel model trailers much more easily, but I've seen fixed keel versions on trailers too.

Here's one I've had my eye on, mostly because of the price:
Tanzer 22 fin keel. 1976 | sailboats | Kawartha Lakes | Kijiji

I've also toured the MacGregorr 26, which is a water ballasted trailer sailer. Its very spacious above and below, and much more modern. If you can fit one in your budget, it would make the wife pretty happy...its a lot more boat, but still goes in your driveway. The hunter 26 is similar, and the hunter 27 the same boat with a fixed fin keel...better sailor, still goes on a trailer, but heavier to pull so it needs a more serious tow vehicle. I was seeking one for a while, since my concerns/requirements were pretty much the same as yours. I also live less than 2km from the marina/ramp/crane...and hated paying for winter storage at the marina, and paying for haulout on a boat that could be lifted with the self serve crane at POH or KYC.

Here is another small local boat for sale. I actually used to own this boat, and can personally say with no hesitation from my own experience that it is great for a small family:
Selling my C&C 25Ft Sailboat | sailboats | Kingston | Kijiji

My offer to help is sincere...like if there's a boat here in kingston you are interested in, I could go see it on your behalf, take a few hundred pictures for you, and give you my opinion. I've bought boats before (8 times) so I like to think I have a clue. You are also welcome to PM me.

And for anyone else reading this, since I sold my own boat last fall, I'm looking for crewing opportunities...deliveries, sharing my knowledge, or just good crew to keep you company.
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Old 13-04-2016, 08:51   #15
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Re: Help me to understand Swingkeels

A Swing Keel is when most, if not all, of the weight is in the centerboard that swings down. Benefit is the weight is lower so the boat is more stable. Con is it is heavy and usually has a mechanical means to lift it. (Pulleys and/or winch) As stated, they can be iron which rusts and expands, and can get stuck tight in the pocket.

A Keel/Centerboard has all the weight in the fixed keel portion, and a (relatively) light centerboard swings down to provide lateral resistance. The centerboard is usually raised/lowered by hand with a light line. The ballast portion stick below the cabin, so the cabin floor is smooth. The centerboard come up into a pocket in the ballast. Con is the weight is not as low, so the boat can be more tender in a breeze.

I had an O'Day 23 with a lead keel/and fibreglass centerboard. It handled well, but was tender. Easy to quickly raise and lower which comes in handy in shoal water. . .
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