Sunday, April 9, 2017

Centerboard cable reconnected

The Pearson 35 is a shoal-draft centerboard sloop. With the centerboard up, she draws less than 4 feet. With the centerboard down, her draft increases to 7.5 feet. The centerboard itself is a heavy piece of solid fiberglass that hangs from a pin inside the keel.

The centerboard is raised and lowered using a cable attaches to tangs on the top aft corner of the centerboard. The cable runs goes up the keel into the bilge of boat through some brass or bronze tubes that run aft towards the engine, then up through the starboard-side galley counter, ending next to a block mounted over the counter. This block in turn is connected to a 3/8th line that runs to the cockpit via a bulkhead fitting. Pull on the line, the block turns and takes up the cable so the centerboard moves up; release the line & the centerboard drops, etc.

The problem is that in many boats, the centerboard cable has parted so there's no way to lift the centerboard. That was the case for Whimsy too, which is why I had to dig a hole in the ground under her in the boatyard for the droopy centerboard to stay while I worked on reconnecting the cable.
Where the centerboard used to live

Splice eye and saddle clamps to connect to centerboard

Centerboard sheave

Fishing a messenger line through to pull up the new steel centerboard cable

Another sheave that needed cleaning
Of course, when the cable parted, it was pulled up and out of the tubing too, so I had to find a way to fish a new cable through the tubes and out the other end. This was not easy, and all my efforts using a variety of material (including weed-whacker line) failed because, as it turned out, the sheaves were block-up with dirt. I had to take apart all of the tubing and clean the sheaves, before I could run the centerboard cable through and connect it to the centerboard. This was not all that hard and only required a pipe wrench to accomplish.

I used stainless steel cable with an eye and saddle clamps to connect to the centerboard. I had wanted to do a proper steel cable splice but didn't have the time for it. I hope the saddle clamps hold.

I will have to take apart the centerboard cable tubes again, when I build the integral water tank. *Sigh*


  1. where can I get the tubing for the centerboard?

  2. Thank you very useful information. I didn't think about digging a hole to gain access. question. do you happen to remember the cable size and any necessary fittings to complete the job.