noisy retractable keel

Thread starter #1
I just finished sailing lessons and put my newly acquired 21' american fiberglass boat in the water. After tuning and rigging we gave it a try last night. After being blown downwind for awhile we realized we forgot to lower the vertically retractable keel. I winched the cable all the way down and we heard the keel knocking back and forth with the waves. I'm not sure if this is normal or if something is wrong. My wife was quite nervous and we motored back to the dock. I am going to take a swim and look at it today. It didn't seem like there was any kind of locking mechanism. Am I missing something or is this the way these boats are supposed to be?
Many of the retractable keels depend on the weight of the keel to hold it down.

They can rattle as the pivot bolt, bushing and hole in the retractable keel wear. There should also be some wear/spacer pads in some installations.

Also with completely slack cable the fittings attaching the cable to the keel can rattle.

Probably not anything to immediately worry about but its likely you can reduce the rattling.
OK... that's even more likely to rattle a bit.

If you have the trailer, take the boat our of water and see if there is space to line the trunk the retractable keel is in with some marine carpet or similar without jamming the keel. That would act to reduce the movement and eliminate the noise.

Getting the rattle just from the boat rolling a bit with the sail down indicates the keel is just knocking against the hull. If it hasn't cracked the fiberglass its not a problem.
Thread starter #5
Well it turns out I didn't know how to lower a retractable keel. It doesn't seat itself on the hull like I assumed it would. It goes right out the bottom of the boat and flops around like a wind chime. The only way to get it back in the slot was to go for a swim and see how long I could hold my breath while my wife worked the winch. I marked the cable with white gorrilla tape to make sure I don't lower it to far again. It only took 4 or 5 tries to line it up. We gave it a try and had a beautiful sail on a perfect night on lake Ontario. Thanks to Tom in Alabama who has the same boat and talked to me on the phone and everyone who gave me some clues.