RE: P17

Judith Blumhorst, DC (
Fri, 17 Dec 1999 16:01:45 -0800

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Just to clarify Harry's message: I don't think Harry was suggesting it's a good idea to sail with the P19 keel up.

For beginners who are reading this, I'll state the obvious : Always lower the keel before you raise your sails. Always lower your sails before raising the keel. You can motor with the keel up and the sails down -- it's stable but you'll slip sideways in a good breeze and it's difficult to steer. Nobody should ever try to sail a P19 with the keel all the way up; it'll capsize.

P19s were designed by Herb Stewart to be sailed with the keel fully lowered. No ifs, ands or buts. The original HMS 18's had a keel winch and cable that were removed from the cabin top as soon as the keel was lowered. Their stability depends on having the keel fully lowered. The P19 is designed to sail like a full keel sailboat. That's why they point so high in with a good skipper at the helm.

In a race downwind, you might raise the keel to gain an extra few tenths of a knot, but you do so by greatly increasing your chance of capsizing if the breeze shifts. It's a tactic to be used only by skilled skippers. Dinghy sailors do it all the time in unballasted boats, but they use their body weight (usually nearly as much or more than the boat weighs) to stabilize the boat.

The P19's centerboard-style keel is not meant to be raised like a swing keel during sailing. Raising a straight up-and-down centerboard won't truly ease weather helm like raising a swing keel up and aft does. Raising the CD keel will just cause the boat to slip sideways more and a great loss of stability. If there's too much weather helm, you need to trim your sails differently, reef them or tune your shrouds.

I suppose you could sail with the keel partially raised, but I wouldn't want the keel hanging by the cable if I ran aground. If it came crashing down, I'll bet you could do some real damage. I can just imagine the cable snapping or the keel blocks ripping out of the cabin top! If I planned to sail often with the keel partially raised, I'd install some way to secure the keel other than just let it hang on the cable. Maybe some bolts thru holes drilled in the keel; the bolts would rest on the top of the keel trunk and support the weight of the keel.

I don't know how far up you could raise the keel to sail in REALLY shallow water, but I personally wouldn't raise it more than about 1/4 of the way for the reasons harry stated.

The only time I've sailed with the keel raised a few inches was when we were approaching a sandy beach. Otherwise, Redwing's keel is always fully down. Maybe it's okay to sail with the keel raised up a few inches for a short period of time, but I have serious questions in my mind about it. I'd be interested to hear other points of view on the topic.

Fair winds,
Judy B

---------- Original message follows:
Sent: Friday, December 17, 1999 9:57 AM
Subject: Re: P17

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Another disadvantage is the high center of gravity when the P19's keel is
raised. The P19 will turn turtle if someone tries to sail with the keel up,
but I've only heard of one instance where that happened. Everything is a

Harry Gordon
P14 #234, Manatee
Mountain View, CA

Todd Lamb