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H26 Swing Keel and Heel/Lean


Aug 12, 2019
Hunter H26 Houston
Hello Everyone,

I've got a 1994 Hunter H26 and I am trying to learn to sail. We took the boat out for the first time this year and only my third time sailing it so all of this is still new to me.

How much rope should the keel take when lowered?
It only took like 9-12" of rope leaving us concerned that is might not be down all the way. I pulled it up multiple times and could feel it hit the bottom of the boat but it never took much rope going down. We reefed the main and felt like we caught some good wind without flopping over ridiculously so we feel like the keel was doing it job.

How far can the boat be safely leaned over?
We hit 20 degrees on multiple occasions.
May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
I am under the impression that H26 and H260 have a water ballast tank and just use a center board for pointing ability. a ballasted retractable keel usually requires a winch and a wire instead of rope. Ok, it is important that right after launching you fill the tank completely full as a in a partially filled tank there will be weight shifts. The center board plays no part in maintaining the boat upright and it just serves to offset drift under sail. When motoring or running with the wind behind you can raise the centerboard to reduce drag. Sometimes when the boat is kept in the water and it is not used frequently marine growth can prevent the center board from sliding up or down. Take a dive under the boat and observe how the center board is operating. The boat can heel probably more that it would feel comfortable but these Hunter boats sail faster when upright. I know the water ballasted boats feel a little tender but I really don't know how far you can heel them. I don't know how forgiving they may be.


Apr 5, 2009
Hunter 26 Pueblo Lake CO
I also have aH26 (had it about 9 years and love it). The line travel on the center board is very short-you sound ok.
I tell passengers the boat likes 15 degrees, but is ok at 20 and they can yell at me if we approach 30. That said we sail a very deep lake and the winds are crazy but due to the depth we have mild waves. Big waves might change my habits on tilt.
It’s a great boat, have fun.
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Likes: Charisma
Sep 17, 2018
Hunter 23.5 Charleston, SC
How far can the boat be safely leaned over?
The answer is: All the way. The boat has positive ballast and won't capsize unless caught by an extremely large breaking wave over the broadside.

This has been posted before but I'll post it again because I love this video. Every new sailor should watch it.

Enjoy your boat and don't fall out! :)

Nov 1, 2017
Catalina 25 Tall Rig Valiant Watergate Marina, Kemah, TX
ALWAYS learn to sail on a keelboat. They always point better and will give you a more realistic feel for boat control.