This page updated on 14th September 2009

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14th September 2009


We cut a hole in the keel/ wedge nut housing in line with the spindle for the wedge, just above where the cavity for the wedge nut joins the main keel housing. The hole for the wedge spindle between the keel and wedge housings was about 20mm which was allowing water to flow back into the wedge nut housing.
We put a hose pipe sleeve around the spindle packed it with silicon glue and filled in the area between the base of the wedge nut cavity and the bottom of the sleeve with resin. This seems to have resolved the problem.

John Goddard


30th April 2009

Hi Dave


Just to add to Rob's detail about the keel.


First clear off all the old gel coat till you get to good dry fiberglass. Take a standard grinding wheel and grind a channel into the the front of the keel box but not through all the fiberglass layers.

Take the channel about 2cm back on either side of the keel housing. Do a couple of channels about 2 cm apart along the affected area


Then soak some nylon rope (5 to 6 mm) in resin and force into the channel. Allow to harden and then grind off / level at the two back ends to so that it smoothes out at the rope ends.

Cover with 3 layers of matt and flow coat on top of that.


It should never crack there again. AND KEEP THE WEDGE TIGHT.


Regards Frank


PS I had my rudder box professionally repaired twice and then used this method and 15 years later still no problem, except that the stainless steel strap on the rudder box recently broke !!!


30th April 2009

Rob le Roux replies:

It is a common problem with the little boat regarding cracks where the keel protrudes from the keel box. The most common cause for the failure is the wedge not being wound up tight enough and there is a little slack causing the keel to knock. I see from a couple of "pics" on the site that the weather was not the best in February. The box needs tlc once in a while. It really is not a big job at all.

I found the water used to enter through hairline cracks near the heads and "weep" slowly. Make sure when you do the repair you cut back by grinding carefully. Frank usually suggests that you cut 3 or 4 deep grooves in the bulkhead and then apply a "string" of glass or carbon fibre. Once tacked into place, then glass over and use a bit of flow or gel coat. T

The finish does leave a very small bump where the "string" is situated, but Frank guarantees that this adds more years and structural stability.

Regards bon chance.

Rob le Roux


30th April 2009

Dave Vanderbanck writes

On another note, every couple years we seem to manage a trip in around the Island in StaSea which is always a blast in more ways than one. This is the 1st time I have left her in the north (Grand Bay)however, partly because the wx was crap (tropical depression) and on one of the legs (Black River to Port Louis) we had very rough seas from this storm and even with one reef in the main, put the hull through quite a bit of stress because the keel started banging a bit more than to my liking as we would crash down. Turns out we may have caused some hairline cracks around the base (which are visible) because we are getting a bit of saltwater in where we never used to. As the boat is in the north on a friends safe mooring in a nice little bay, I will take advantage and use it for now to explore the Islands, but I am concerned about the cracks and will have to haul her out to inspect and repair eventually. I was reading something about the keel on the site that other owners had contributed and I am convinced this is caused by many years of "keel banging" in rough seaways when we were too lazy to go below and tighten the clamp...... 

Dropping the keel will not be a problem in these clear waters (and I have experience putting one back in on Celine with the previous owner -not James- when he lost his keel with a thud in 4 meters of lagoon! That is another story to tell!) We will have to figure a way to drag the keel-less hull onto the slipway trailer on a heel to gain access to the keel slot as we do not have the luxury of a dry dock or crane. I plan on epoxying some carbon fiber into the box. Anyways Coenie, if you can put us on to any others who have been through the same it would be appreciated. 

Thanks again for all the info and work you do on the site- I will try and make some contributions with our own experiences for the benefit of others when I get more time. 

Best Regards, 

Dave Vanderbanck



16th February 2009

I am aware that one boat in the distant past who was going to try a trans-Atlantic venture was required to fix the keel and seal the hull around the keel to prevent water ingress as well as fixing the lower and sealing in position the lower companionway board for the same reason.

Bruce Richards


16th February 2009

I think you got it wrong, Frank. I have had water coming in through the bolt hole, (especially after Mother has packed the boat, and we have all the kids on board). But John’s problem seems to be water through the area around the screw ring for the wedge (which is quite a bit higher). Even Mother has not managed to pack us that heavily………. 

Do you think John’s wife packs more than mine?? 

Michael Robinson

PS Coenie, we have more salt water ingress than fresh water, mainly because Mother is more energetic in her packing for holidays at the sea than for inland holidays.


16th February 2009

I have had water leak in through the bolt hole, and solved it as Frank describes below-rubber washer either side. 

Rob Wilson


16th February 2009

Sorry I did not read your e-mail completely as regards where the water is coming in.


I have never had that ie. water coming in through the wedge ring, and I have sailed at 11,5 knots !!!! ( Once , Just before we broached and took the spinnaker down!!! )

The actual wedge should not allow water to 'run' up the back of the keel housing.


Are you sure it is from the wedge ring and not the keel bolt?


If not sure try my suggestion as per the previous e-mail.


Regards Frank


16th February 2009

This situation has arisen before.


I had it once when I did a demo and we overloaded the boat with people and water entered through the first keel bolt hole.

In extreme weather conditions ( and a heavy boat ) this is also possible and the best and simplest solution is to cut a sponge gasket which is placed either side of the keel bolt between the box and the washer.


That should solve the problem.


Regards Frank


16th February 2009

I previously owned Belles ‘n Boys on the Vaal Dam. 

As the keel and wedge does not create a water tight fit, in the right conditions water can and will be driven into the keel box. It then can splash into cabin through the wedge screw fitting and the upper keel bolt holes, that is why the boats were originally delivered with two black rubber bungs to block these holes.

Bruce Richards


12th February

I have sailed my Holiday 23 and other in various condition around the Cape Coast, not once have I experienced or heard from other owners of water coming in around the screw ring or the hole of the pin that holds the keel.

All I can think is that there might be some growth around the keel and keel box, or something that got stuck there that prevents the water from draining. I have seen speeds of up to 9 – 10 knots on a Holiday 23 and no water came into the boat.



12th February 2009

Question: John Goddard


I live in Zimbabwe and have a Holiday 23 No 053 which I sail on Kariba. 


When beating into the wind a substantial quantity of water gushes into the boat through the area around the screw ring for the wedge.

The wedge appears to lock the keel tight and there is no knocking of the keel when sailing. 


Any suggestions as to the cause of the problem and the solution? 


Many thanks.


14th January 2009

I sold my H23 a year ago. I dry-sailed her on the Vaal dam, and would regularly left and drop the keel every time I came back to the beach. The keel was stiff the very first time I launched her, but found with Q20 and with regular use, the keel always ran easily and trouble free. My rope strap never once jammed, I must have hoisted and dropped the keel well over a hundred times - myself on the winch and my young daughter ready with the securing pin.

Like lifting and dropping masts, I think it is one of those tasks that familiarity makes less daunting.
Richard (ex-H23-175)


14th January 2009

Excellent advice and precautions. I sympathise with the problem. Quite frankly, I have no confidence in the ‘safety rope’ if one of the pulley block came adrift (like mine did!)-I think even miner free fall of the keel would snap the rope.



13th January 2009

I transported my H23 to the worlds in 2006. When I raised my keel, the support strap inside the keel housing got jammed between the keel and the bulkhead. There was absolutely no way we could drop it. Eventually young Frankie Stuyk, Dean Korver and I had to drill a hole through the keel. We then put a bolt through the keel and attached a chain. Frankie had to use the crane to lift the boat while we attached the chain to a fixed bollard on the shore. The keel eventually came free.

Word of advise here. When raising the keel ALWAYS open the enclosure on the bulkhead holding the keel. This is the removable fibre glass unit inside the cabin. When raising the keel, someone should always make sure that the strap is free whilst raising. Brian Cole's suggestion is that the strap be replaced with a piece of chain the same length as the strap but thick enough not to be trapped.

Happy H23'ing

Rob le Roux


13th January 2009

My yacht is Paxos – Sail no.  77.   Based at Mykonos.  I have been receiving your emails and getting the newsletters for the last couple of years.  I originally registered with Gordon Fitzsimmons.   I think the website is great and I look at it frequently.   I am very glad that you have taken it over.  You are doing a terrific job!

Despite owning the boat 3 years,  I have been unable to raise and lower my keel.   I got it up when I went on to the lift at Mykonos by them gently putting the boat down onto a trailer while I took up the slack on the winch, and reversing the procedure when I put it back in the water – but that is a very expensive exercise and I would not like to do it more than once every 2-3 years.   There are no impediments such as barnacles etc but the pulley wheels at the top seem to be jammed (salt water, age oxidation of the alloy) and I don’t know how to sort this out as access is very limited.   One suggestion was to take the mast and tabernacle off completely.   I am interested in doing the Worlds at Easter but nervous about sailing around and consequently consider trailing the boat but I need to get the keel sorted out.

Any suggestions?


Mark Smeddle

By the way for some historical perspective my Father – John Smeddle – was a keen sailor and won line honours in the 1979 South Atlantic race to Uruguay in a Ketch called Kwa Heri.  (When Rio boycotted SA)  He built Mainstay with sponsorship for the 1982 race but was not quite ready for the race and had to sell it to Momentum Life who came 2nd to Apple MacIntosh in 1985.   By contrast I am an enthusiastic but careful day sailor but would like to spend some more time on the water and get more experience.


From:  Rob Wilson

Hi Coenie, 

Thank you for the Newsletter and well done for keeping things going. I am no longer a H23 owner having sold my boat (Shenanigans, No 88) to Bruce Hepburn. The boat was previously named ‘Francesca’, which I changed because I was sure the boat was named after another man’s wife! It is still at Pennant Nine Yacht Club, Vaal Marina along with about 5 others, and is regularly sailed. I sold my house and bought an Atlantis 36 which is also at PNYC, and will be moving to either Mossel Bay or Hout Bay in about 20 months. You are welcome to keep me on the mailing list as I have fond memories of my H23 days. I suggest that you put him on the list. 

A word of experience for other owners. I bought the boat around 2003-it was in immaculate condition and it’s list included a recent keel box rebuild and galvanising of the keel itself. I lifted the keel a number of times, including for trailering. In 2007, when preparing to lift the keel, the pulley block attached to the top of the keel came loose completely-luckily (as the boat was in 15m of water!), the pin was still in! On removal and inspection, I found a stainless steel pulley block attached to the top of the now galvanised keel (painted over with anti-foul) with 4 broken (and evidently preferentially rusted cap screws) arranged so that screws were in tension. It was impossible to see the bolt material, but I moved, re-tapped and replaced with 5 X 12mm Grade 304 Stainless cap screws, sealed with epoxy in the holes. The whole arrangement is not ideal though, as the pulley block should be set into the side of the keel so that the cap screws are in shear, not in tension. For that, I would have had to machine a slot in the keel for clearance in the keelbox, a job which I could not get to. The moral here is check the condition of the rope, blocks and especially the holding bolts carefully annually and if on inland waters, check that the water quality does not preferentially attack zinc galvanising as is the case on Vaal Dam. Vaal Dam and galvanising do not go well together! 




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