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Removing the Keel from an RL24 - Ross Corben

These photographs show an exercise my son Paul and I undertook last December to remove the keel from "Cosmic Sedso", our current RL and the "latest" of the 4 we've owned since 1974.

We wanted the keel out on this occasion simply to check it over and to dress up any dings and scratches it had accumulated over the intervening years. To drop the keel out, we simply removed the two tangs bolted to the top of the keel which are there to stop it falling out the bottom and lowered it to the ground with the keel winch. When we lifted the boat clear, the keel stood upright of its own accord which isn't surprising given that it has 117kg of lead in its bottom. It didn't require a lot of work to fair it off but we spent a good deal of time getting the surface right. Putting it back was a bit fiddly only because there is virtually no tolerance between the keel and its case. Modern hydraulic systems are wonderful things so we were able to line things up millimetre by millimetre with the Massey, connect the winch wire and crank the keel up into the case.

The shot where the boat is suspended but the keel still housed highlights, I think, the genius of Rob Legg. The lines are about as sweet as it's possible to get in a boat. It's no wonder the RL24 is so fast and sea-kindly and it's no wonder the boat has become a classic in its own time.