Tag Archives: Keel

The Great Keel Ordeal…

The latest issue of  DIY Boat Owner is out, and page 45, 46 and 47 look awfully familiar, with stress on the ‘awful’.  Yes, that is Annabel Lee’s keel in those photos, but every time I see pictures of the repairs we’d done they still make me shudder… and itch! Recalling how we’d gone into that project with what could best be described as outright dread, I’m very pleased with the final results.  It’s satisfying as well to see the whole ordeal in print, where hopefully it will provide guidance to some other poor soul faced with the same unnerving task (not to mention it’s helping pay for some boat parts).  And reading this makes me particularly happy: “Like all issues of DIY, the Tools & Gear section is full of product reviews and the Projects section lays out several major renovations (read The Great Keel Ordeal — it’s great stuff).”


The article itself can be found in the Summer 2010 issue of DIY Boat Owner Magazine, but more pics of the messy process from start to end can be found scattered around this blog.

Keel2  Keel3


And looking back, it did turn out quite impressive in the end. We do nice work!

Fun facts I’ve learned this spring…

People get very nervous and avoid you when they see you take a carbide-blade grinder, chisel and mallet to your boat’s keel. However, EVERYONE stops to talk when they see you laying up new glass and actually putting it back together. (Guess they figured we never could. Truth be told, we had our doubts at times.)

Murphy controls the weather. It will always be too hot/cold/wet to do the task at hand.

Inspiration comes when you’re too tired to write it all down.

The bridge is big. Really BIG, especially when it comes to covering it with a fitted canvas cover.

Old sewing machines are still the best choice for heavy work.

(Knew this one.) Fiberglass itches. Fiberglass gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Cuts full of fiberglass dust don’t bleed, until you wash them.

The easiest way to get West resin out of your hair is to not get it in to start with. The next best option is to just cut it nice and short.

No, I wasn’t afraid to get prop wet! (Haha. Very funny.) I was just trying to keep bottom paint from getting on it.

One tiny little $2.35 brass fuel line fitting can stop a 20,000 lb. boat from moving.

A big shiny bronze prop attracts boaters like moths to a fly-zapper.

Everyone seems to LOVE our boat. She attracts admirers like a magnet, often looking to talk when we’re in the middle of some rushed work when we can’t really stop to talk. Still, I will admit the positive comments do feel great. But when I know we’re too busy to talk, I’ve taken to covering parts of the boat and tossing towels over the transom, (Are you from East Dennis? I used to live/have an aunt/cousin/evil twin who lives there/vacationed there 30 years ago/want to live there some day.)

June 2nd is NOT 2 WEEKS after April 19th!

High tide tomorrow: 6:06 AM EDT


Last weekend: The keel is reinforced and back together, the skeg fit perfectly, the rudder’s on, everything’s primed and painted, so we go to fire up the engine and…… crank crank crank crank…. Uhm…. no. Okay, so there’s diesel leaking below the fuel lifter. We kind of saw this coming and already have a new lifter and lines waiting in a box. Simple. Only the connector on the Racor fuel/water separator doesn’t match the one on the new fuel line. And it’s Memorial day, so no such luck finding anyone with an adapter. Order one Tuesday, get it Thursday only to find it’s wrong. Check every possible source, find everyone has the same wrong fitting. Seems it’s in a box marked 9040-6-6, but it’s really a 9020-6-6. Friday morning finally located one on a shelf down off the Parkway, picked it up. Hooked everything up Saturday morning, bled the lines, run a hose into the raw water intake, pressed the starter and hear happy sounds. Of course the yard wants to launch us last month, we understand that, still we’d like to get chance to polish and wax the hull and I still haven’t finished the canvas and there’s no lines at the dock. Fortunately some unknown kind soul blocked the travelift, and once the weekend kicks into gear the lot fills up with cars, so there would be no launching until Tuesday morning. PERFECT!!! We actually had time to do much of what we wanted to tie up loose ends and get things nice, or at least as nice as could be expected. I just have to fit out the last part of the canvas and I’m done with that as well.



Soooo tired! Too tired to go into detail, only that things finally seem to be moving forward. The KEEL is coming together in a satisfying way. For now, here’s a few pictures.

More details tomorrow, maybe.

More work tomorrow, definitely.

Fiberglass and more fiberglass…

At last! The keel is solid once again, structurally reinforced in every direction and built back out to (almost) proper dimensions. I didn’t take many pictures in the sticky, messy, itchy process, not until we neared the end. And I’m not going into details now, I’m still too tired. It turned into a 12 hour marathon, and that after getting home at midnight the night before after stuffing the entire contents of one dorm room into one brown station wagon. Coherency is low at present. I need more caffeine.

Next step, sand the cure glass, fair it, Pettit Protect, and THEN we can start putting working parts like the shaft, prop and rudder back in place.

The week in review…

Too hot.
Even hotter.
Not so hot, but raining.
Raining again.
Supposed to rain, but actually perfect.
Supposed to be only slightly rainy, but VERY rainy, at least until the flood rose under the boat, we threw in the towel, and the rain slacked off.

Where to begin? It all runs together, but here’s a summary. This week Frank and I set out to fix the leak in the keel. Years ago a skeg was added. In the process a section of the keel was cut and reglassed, then drilled for the bolts securing the skeg. Unfortunately those bolts eventually allowed water to leak in, then weep out when the boat was hauled. This year we pulled the skeg to take a closer look. We found a gap in the repair which easily separated, revealing waterlogged cement ballast. Someone with more fiberglass experience was supposed to tackle this one, unfortunately when the time came he was too busy with other work and we were on our own. yay.

First off, the old cement (yes, cement) ballast had to come out. Frank got some strange looks as he used a sledge hammer and chisel to excavate the core of the now open keel, but eventually he reached clean, unsaturated ballast. The plan; re-core the keel with solid teak, reinforcing the bolt holes, and re glass the whole area from the bottom up, wrapping it completely rather than just the strip of glass, which clearly failed. Step one. Grind away some very thick fiberglass along the outside of the keel. More strange looks. It’s the end of April, but pushing past 90 degrees as we’re working in dust masks, covered in heavy clothes and glittering with sparkly, itchy fiberglass dust. It gets through the clothes anyways, and the best way to wash down is (shudder) unbearably cold showers. If there’s one thing I hate more than fiberglass dust, it’s cold showers.

The new core we constructed from three pieces of teak, laminated with West and layers of fiberglass reinforcement. Then the core was epoxied into place, the bolt holes re-drilled over sized. These holes were then filled with reinforced epoxy. After everything is re glassed, they’ll be re drilled to actual size, and there should be no way water can find a way in. And finally, we had everything set to go, but the rain started. Friday a girlfriend and I were going in to see Blue October at Webster Hall so we wrapped up early. Even getting soaked on the way in I had a great time, the concert was unbelievable; unfortunately I was so exhausted from the week and knowing I’d be up at six the next morning to tackle the scariest step yet on the keel repair, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Still, Blue October is amazing live, and they performed nearly every one of my favorite songs. I wished I could have enjoyed it more.

I was up bright and early the next morning, despite getting home at 1:30 a.m., and Frank said “Go back to bed, it’s raining.” And so it was. Weather claimed the day would be a washout. So I set about prep for the canvas work, (another fun project, but far less itchy). By ten it wasn’t really raining, but no sense in getting started, it’s supposed to rain all day. This was probably just a break. By mid-day that break had turned to patches of blue, and we loaded the car. We plan out the whole process, figuring each layer of glass, even do some test work. The trick to fiberglassing a complex shape while fighting gravity, we’re learning by trial and error, involves letting the resin start to kick, then laying up a layer and working in fresh resin, rinse and repeat. It’s that whole ‘wait till it kicks’ part that takes the time and patience, and now it’s too late in the day. But tomorrow isn’t supposed to rain nearly as much as today, so maybe we could pull this off.

Sunday dawned gray and gloomy, but dry and better than Saturday began. On the way over it starts to mist. We figure we can still work, so long as things stay dry underneath, so we set up a tarp tent between the boat and the Mars Rover. It’s raining now, but we’re still dry where we’re working so we forge ahead. We’re all set up, the glass mat measured and cut, and the minute I mix that first batch of resin the rain turns to torrential downpour. The island of dry beneath the boat flooded and we had to throw in the towel. Of course, no sooner than we load the car and break down the tent the rain slacked, but now there’s a small lake under the boat. *&#%@!

It’s supposed to pour for the next two days. Just f’n great. Grrrr. Stay tuned for the next round.

Much work…

Too much to elaborate on at this time. Maybe once all the (fiberglass) dust settles.

Blogging under the influence…

Yeah, well. Let’s see. It’s that time of the year again. There’s a ladder in the back of my car, along with tools and stuff. Annabel Lee’s up on the hard. We’ve set time aside this week to winterize the boat. AS you may notice the lack of coherency, I’m just a bit tired and I’ve downed a bit of rum to mellow out after digging out a bunch of I’m not sure what where the keel is weeping. Trust me, my typing’s way worse, but I keep fixing my mistakes. Way more to say, in coming days I’ll be posting on the definition of insanity as it relates to owning a boat, and no, this doesn’t mean I’d change it, all the same looking back over the last year, I’ve gained some interesting insights I should share with those of you out there who bother to read.

Oh yeah, and my parents are in town, so right now there’s four large dogs running around here. Twice the dogs for the cats to torment. Did all you good readers click for the kitties today? <see below>.

Nap time. Later.