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Can I take a boat out without a keel?

by Kevin
(Sydney, Australia)

I have been given a 5.45 metre trailer sailboat by an old friend. It has a wind up keel, which has seized inside. I was wondering if it is safe to take it out and fish with no mast or sails or does that stop it rolling.

Thank you, Kevin.

Hi Kevin,

If I understand you correctly, you are asking whether or not it is safe to take out a boat that doesn't have a centreboard/keel?

Well it depends. A centreboard or keel stops a both heeling over when under sail and converts the sideways energy into forward momentum. Since you have no sails, it may seem not useful.

However, the wind still plays a part in the movement of boats, even if they don't have sails. Your boat will be pushed sideways by the wind even if you don't have sails and a centreboard or keel may slow this down.

There are also tides and waves, which can make a boat without a centreboard rock about. But if you are asking "Is it safe?", then of course it is, it just won't be comfortable to sit in and it will rock with every movement.

Best Regards,


Comments for Can I take a boat out without a keel?

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Jan 11, 2010
Alex's comment covers it. An extra:
by: Han

A boat without centreboard or keel behaves like a rowboat; once you're used to it's behaviour it's perfectly safe.
In the case the keel is stuck in it's upper position, it still adds to stability if it's a ballasted one.
So don't worry, be happy, and try to free the keel by repeated gentle tapping.

Regards, Han.

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