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Trailering a Retractable Keel Boat

Trailering a Retractable Keel Boat

For a complete understanding of the Catalina 22 and Catalina 25 keel raising system, start with the first article in this series: How the System Works.

Never trailer your boat with its keel hanging from the winch.
The dynamic load from bouncing down the road will stress all of the components far more than the loads anticipated from raising and lowering the keel. We have seen the small “bridge deck” on the C-22 (where the winch is mounted to the deck with through bolts) and the ladder steps of the C-25 companionway break from the load of the keel while trailering. Lower the keel into the trailer’s rubber cradle or onto the rubber roller. Stop cranking when the keel is on the trailer. Remember to winch the keel back up before launching.

Always snug the winch slightly after lowering the keel to set the clutch mechanism. Apply enough tension to keep the drum stationary, not so much as to lift the keel. This prevents a “rat’s nest” of keel cable which will damage the cable when tension is applied again.

Another contributing factor to a weakened bridge deck in the C-22 is water intrusion into the laminate. The boat is a laminate of fiberglass, marine plywood, and fiberglass where the winch is mounted. Water leaking around the winch bolts can cause dry rot, severely weaken the deck and lead to failure. Remove the winch at least once every three years, check for dry rot and re-caulk the bolts.