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Is this keel fixable??? Catalina 30, Need help before purchase!

Sep 5, 2020
Catalina 30 Lake Erie TBD

I am looking to purchase a 1983 Catalina 30 and I have some concerns about the keel and whether it is worth fixing. I appreciate any and all responses!

This is a lead keel and is showing signs of blistering and damage. My experience level is basic but my research would tell me that I should be able to grind this down, and fix. The issue i have is determining where the issue is originating in order to prevent it from happening again. When I go under the table and pull the board up to view the Keel Bolts, there is standing water in there. Does anyone have any advice on how I should approach this problem, and if the work is still worth the purchase?? I have trouble understanding how water can affect a solid lead keel like this --- but I suppose that is part of being new. Please see the attached pictures and again I appreciate your time! Thanks


Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
It doesn't look too bad to me. The front needs re-sealing and keelboats checked. In 2208 there's evidence of water leaking out - probably from the water in the bilge which could easily be rainwater. You need to look into that. That doesn't look like incidental water in the bilge. Something is leaking - windows, mast and or partner, chain plates, deck hardware. A hose and a helper might tell you a lot. The bottom paint likely has copper in it. Maybe the lead and copper aren't playing nice? Or what is the "Zinc" situation? If you have to lift the boat off the keel to re-seal the keel, move on.
Aug 28, 2006
Bavaria 35E seattle
I hope you're getting a really, really good price on this boat to entertain the work involved. It's certainly do-able but as Shemandr said, you need to find out where the water is coming from. Maybe running a hose all over the boat, if you can do it the yard there. I'm more concerned about the separation in #2209. It looks as though it was a previous repair that hasn't lasted. Fixing someone else's bad repair can be a nightmare. Hope the surfaces can be joined back fairly easily.
Sep 5, 2020
Catalina 30 Lake Erie TBD
I would be purchasing for a substantial discount, due to the 'uncertainty' of the issue.
The current vendor was expecting that it may need to be dropped to be re-sealed --- I'm curious what that would cost...
However, he also doesn't know for sure, so its possible i could get away without it.
How long does it take to accumulate this kind of damage?

I am very thankful for the quick responses and great feedback. I will definitely try to run those tests to see if it can be duplicated where the leak is coming from.
Feb 10, 2004
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
In #2215 of the water in the bilge- I see a large hose on the left. Is that hose for a bilge pump that was removed? In 2208 where the water stains show water exiting- are there a bilge plug that was removed to let water drain? Is the water level inside at the hole position on the outside.

I too would be concerned about the separation in #2209. What does your surveyor say about that? If it is repairable, I would have it done by a professional. Also, is the separation the result of a hard grounding? You and the surveyor should look carefully for additional damage to stringers and bulkheads inside.

Lastly, can you find another boat that is in great condition that does not have any damage? You might be able to avoid this entire situation. Not every boat is worth saving.
Apr 8, 2010
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
As with any frp boat, with money and material you can fix most anything. That being said, reinforcing the inner structure of an old Catalina to properly re-attach a keel is probably not the best place to start proving this. The keel-to-hull problem is a "foundation level" problem.
Look around. There are Oodles of better constructed boats to choose from, including Catalina's.
And follow Jackdaw's good advice.


Jul 29, 2018
O'Day 35 Buzzards Bay
Catalinas from that era are notorious leakers of rain water - there could be many sources. What is most concerning is the brownish ooze coming out at the hull-to-keel joint. Prior to 1988, Catalina 30's had plywood in the keel stub - if water gets into the plywood, it will rot and compromise the strength of the stub - the brown ooze is a pretty good indication this has happened. This can be repaired by removing the plywood from the inside and re-glassing - big job. You would also want to drop the keel and re-bed it.
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Jul 6, 2013
Catalina 30TR, Atomic 4 2480 Milwaukee
Search this forum for “Catalina Smile.”

You’ll find a lot of discouraging posts.


Jul 30, 2016
Hunter 31 Lewis and Clark Lake
Are you sure that keel is lead? I see rust on it which would tell me that it is steel. Much on the keel can be repaired but like the other comments I am very concerned about the seepage and the moisture. It is hard to tell the level of damage that has occurred due to that moisture and that problem must be resolved before the keel is repaired. I did some keel repair on my hunter 30 this past winter. Used Pettits faring compound and their rust inhibiting paint before applying underlayment and finally ablative bottom paint.
Oct 29, 2012
Catalina 30 TRBS MkII Milwaukee


These may help you understand what you are looking at, the second image refers to dmax suggestion of boats built before 1988. As suggested there are many posts and information on the Catalina "smile".
Do you have a good yard that will allow you to do the necessary repairs over the winter, and are you willing and able to take on a project like this? Some yards don't want another project boat that someone may potentially walk away from.
Buy a good sound boat and just put your money into normal maintenance items and upgrades.
Rather spend money on a good sound, well maintained boat and get a nice new set of sails. imho


Oct 13, 2014
Beneteau First 22 and Oceanis 38 San Francisco Bay
Whether you are a newbie or an old salt, I would not buy any boat of that vintage without a thorough professional survey of the hull, rigging, and engine/mechanical. The surveyor is likely to find issues in areas that you didn’t even know existed. The survey isn’t cheap but still likely way less than the cost of repairs of problems that show up after you become the owner of an older boat. If no major issues are found you’ll have the confidence of knowing that you own a sound boat.
Feb 22, 2015
Catalina 30 Redondo Beach
Find another.
A decade ago I got a $10,000 estimate.
That boat would have to be perfect in everything else. As in new everything for it to be a deal, even at given away prices.
On my 1978, bought 11 years ago, within 6 years spent $23,000 on majors, repower, sails, :banghead:dumb to nth degree.
Nov 6, 2017
Catalina 30 5611 Stratford, Ct
As captcoho said, you may want to find another boat. I say don’t walk away from this boat run away. To me the gap at the front of the keel along with the potential of stub repair due to that nasty looking stuff running out between the stub and the keel would necessitate removal of the keel to address those two problems. That job requires a high level of skill and a way to lift the boat off the keel once the keel bolt are removed. Although I have never done that I fully understand the work involved and would not take on a job like that myself. Further the marina will charge thousands to do that job. So I think it’s time to Put on those running shoes and hightail it out of there. There are plenty of other boats out there to choose from.
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
...On my 1978, bought 11 years ago, within 6 years spent $23,000 on majors, repower, sails, :banghead:dumb to nth degree.
Thanks for posting this. I was feeling bad about losing nearly - too soon to look at the real numbers - 10K on a boat I bought for 6K. Dumb squared! :banghead::banghead:You've brightened my day. Have a nice Labor Day!