In general the keelboxes and keel mechanisms are more robust than you might think, but definitely worth checking.

There is a technical paper which covers servicing of the keels but is long and not really relevant to a purchase ‘check’. (It is one of the set of technical documentation available to members of the Association).

However, we do have a paper on surveying an Atalanta, and a lot of experience which I and others will contribute via your post. And if it would be helpful there is a high chance we would be able to find an experienced owner who would view the boat with you and give their opinion.

You can find the paper here .

From my own experience:

  • Five years out of the water is not in itself an issue.
    • My Atalanta was out of the water for over 10 years and suffered no keelbox issues.
    • The question is what condition was she when she was last in the water and how has she been stored. If not inside she should have had good covers with plenty of through ventilation
  • For the steelwork:
    • A good overall assessment can be made just by looking at the external condition of the plates in the cabin. If they are clear of rust that is a very positive sign. If they are very rusty the opposite.
    • If the owner will allow lifting of one of the inspection plates in the main cabin you will have a good view of the clamping plates. You should expect some rust but signs of grease indicate they have been looked after.
    • Ask the owner if you can under one or two of the upper 4 keel clamp bolts. These do not take any significant weight and once the cylindrical nuts are undone should move reasonably easily with a sharp ‘clout’ (from a piece of wood ideally). If they don’t move it is not necessarily a major issue but something that will need investigation.
  • For the woodwork
    • The paper includes good advice about checking the sides of the keelboxes which project into the main cabin
    • Inspect the rest of the keelbox sides, inboard and outboard, where you can get access and also the vertical timber between them at the fore and aft ends. You are looking for signs of movement, leaks or softness.
    • If the owner will allow, lifting the cover plates in the cockpit and galley/chart table area gives a good view of the keelbox interiors although the keels will be in the way to some extent

Hope that helps.

And don’t forget – the Association Members are all friendly folk and if they can would love to help in your purchase. If you want to talk to one of us drop your number to me using the website Contact form at the very bottom of the page.