Maximum Heel

Nov 22, 2017
catalina capri 22 1222 delaware river
I'm a relatively new owner of a Catalina Capri 22, standard rig, wing keel . What is the approximate maximum degree of heel before disaster strikes? Thanks.
Nov 8, 2010
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
The AVS (angle of vanishing stability) of that boat is probably around 100 degrees. Keep your boards in and lockers latched.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
If you find the boat slipping beyond 90 degrees I would advise you step out on the high side onto the now visible keel. It is not supposed to be visible under normal conditions.
Hope and pray you can put enough weight out to the keel end that the boat will right itself.
As soon as it starts to sit back down you had better be scrambling to get back in the cockpit or you could become one of those statistics lost swing beside his boat.
If you are unlucky and the boat rolls turtle, at least you will be on top of the boat.
Now would be a great time to take out that portable waterproof VHF radio from under your PFD and call for HELP!.
Nov 8, 2007
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
Hmmm... so what is a disaster?

A keel boat with its hatch boards in place (to prevent flooding the cabin) should quickly recover from a knockdown by unexpected wind. That’s the 90 degree heel some have proposed.

It takes waves to push the boat further. If a boat is struck from the side by a breaking wave taller than its beam, it will be pushed beyond its Angle of Vanishing Stability (AVS), and will be inverted. That qualifies as a disaster! So I think Jackdaw got it right.

Practically speaking, it takes time and a long fetch (length of open water for the wind to build waves) to develop 8 foot breaking waves. So you have time to make it to port before that happens. And even if you were caught out in those conditions you can work at the helm to avoid being broached (turned sideways to the wind.)

In 19 years of sailing the Great Lakes, and sharing stories with other sailors, I have heard of a number of knockdowns from unexpected bursts of wind, but only one capsize of a keel boat. That one was a silly design with an AVS near 90 degrees and was staying out in nasty weather on Lake Michigan during one of the Mackinaw races.


Feb 11, 2017
J/Boat J/160 Annapolis

Is this a theoretical or practical question.

The "before disaster strikes" is probably a function of sea state, wind direction, sails up, and crew's experience and tolerance.

If you want a simple answer for your 22' boat (without taking into account the current and wakes on parts of the Delaware River), I would think 45 degrees would be a portent of major memories.
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Sep 14, 2014
Catalina 22 Pensacola, Florida
Well if ya get to 180 degrees , time to break out the life raft.
Dec 25, 2000
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
It would help if you defined disaster for us. On our boat, anything over 20 degrees is a disaster according to the admiral, and screeching ensues. The skipper is okay up to 45 degrees, which puts the rail in the water. Beyond that skipper gets a bit nervous, but not yet a disaster. Odds of a knock down in our protected waters is next to nil.

Skipper likely reaches the screeching mode when the heel approaches 60 plus degrees, but having never been there before, hard to say. Usually when heel becomes a bit excessive I will pinch higher to reduce pressure on the sails, thus helping to keep the boat upright. Around here we will duck for cover in some protected anchorage until the system passes. A different matter in blue water.
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
You've probably figured it out by now, but your boat will recover from a knockdown on her own. The question is a bit open ended so it's fun to see how outrageously correct we can get in answering. However, what you really want to know is if you can sail too hard into the water. It's possible, but not probable. As you heel in higher and higher winds, the nature of your extreme angle will spill air from your sails. As the gap between your sail's lifting surface and the water surface begins to disappear, airflow will get more restricted and eventually you will simply lose the lift as the sail gets too close to contact with the water. You might experience a lifting force from your keel and a wave could come up and catch your sail which will be quite wet already from sailing with the spreaders almost in the water, then you're caught. The water will grab you and it's all stop. If water has time to pool on the windward, now the upper, side of your sail, you might not recover. Even then, it's not very likely. The sea conditions when the wind is strong enough to do that to the unwary captain, makes it important to keep everything buttoned up, you don't need to take on water when you want your boat to right herself.
The biggest danger is that things start to fall off the boat if you haven't tied them down. So get a gimbled cupholder for your :beer:.

-Will (Dragonfly)
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Jul 22, 2013
Catalina Capri 22 Mk II Salem Harbor
I too have a capri 22 with wing keel. I don't reference an inclinometer when water is entering the cockpit due to excessive healing; just the same, I'd say 40 degrees is when the ocean pours over the leeward rail into the cockpit; that's my definition of disaster.
Some sailors (me too) say the less heal the better so when flirting with 40 degrees/disaster, it's past time to flatten and/or shorten sail, imo.


Jun 5, 2014
ODay Mariner Guntersville
If water is entering the cockpit due to excessive healing, should the skipper endeavor to injure the crew?
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Oct 3, 2011
Anam Cara Catalina 310 Hull #155 155 Lake Erie/Catawba Island
Whenever you and first mate are screaming , BUT why go there...
Enjoy the sail, That is why its called "PLEASURE BOATING"
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