Need advice - keel repairs

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
Hi all,

Sadly, last Wednesday I had a terrestrial impact with some rocks off Wing Point in the Sound. A friend dove the next day and I definitely have some nice chunks knocked into my keel, down to the lead.

Exacerbating the issue is that I think I've always thought I have potential keel bolt issues, due to a recurring seam appearing at the keel/hull join, water seeping out of it after hauling, even after a yard tried re-glassing it (I think the seeping water caused the re-glassing to fail.)

Also considering my girlfriend and I have a plan to attempt a Hawaii trip in two years, this seems like a potential time to drop the keel and take a look at whatever bad things are hiding beneath (hopefully nothing).

But, this is a very expensive endeavor ahead - I'm guessing at least $10k, if not more, if I have a yard do it. I really don't think the keel is in any imminent danger of falling off of the boat, but the stakes get higher if we take it offshore. And now that I've mentioned it to my gf, she will need some sort of strong assurance that the keel is going to be OK - either via repair or some expert opinion that the bolts are sound.

So there are some options:

1. I haul out at the DIY boatyard and fix/fair the keel damage, assess the state of the keel seam/weeping, likely just put the boat back in and ignore the keel bolts.
2. I haul out at a yard, have them fix the keel damage, and assess the keel bolts for a later time.
3. I haul out at a yard, and have them fix the keel damage and drop the keel to assess the bolts.

Along with this are options to either file an insurance claim or prepare for an out-of-pocket hit. I'm not sure a full keel drop, repair, re-bolting, etc would be covered by my policy without totaling the boat, which I would really like to avoid. Whatever way I go, the keel damage makes this a sooner-rather-than-later project, though not ASAP.

received_1137744599942797.jpegreceived_580877672472251.jpeg
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
HI Geoff,

It's never fun to run aground, but most of us have done it at least once for various reasons. They say it's not if, but when you'll run aground if you are a real sailor!
I know your friend checked the keel under water, but have you or anyone also checked the lamination under the floor boards for any structural damage? Although that's unlikely, it is possible if you hit rocks with significant force. Also, though unlikely, is there any damage to the rudder?
I know that some insurance companies will cover such a collision, so it would be worth exploring that, as dropping the keel is not cheap, as you know. But for peace of mind, and reassurance for your girlfriend as well as yourself, dropping the keel and fixing it properly may be the right thing to do, especially if you plan to go offshore in a couple of years.
Frank
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Well, from the picture, that looks like a minor scrape. Looks like you lost more paint and barrier coat than lead. My keel had a bigger gash in the leading edge when I bought it, from the PO trailering it in the off seasons.

The keel repair from that scrape will be a cheap and easy fix, but of course it's worth investigating for unseen damage. I'd start with your insurer, and see what options they present. They may actually require a certain level of inspection, to know what future liabilities they face in covering the boat.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
My vote: 1. I haul out at the DIY boatyard and fix/fair the keel damage, assess the state of the keel seam/weeping, likely just put the boat back in and ignore the keel bolts.

You can fix the lead keel with a hammer and filler.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
It's been years since I had our keel dropped and re-bedded, but even adjusted for inflation the cost was hugely less than 10K.

You should get some bids. Note that experienced yards will have a welded steel 'cradle' just for the purpose of solidly supporting a keel when the boat is lifted off of it.
 

wynkoop

Member III
I would try to get the insurance company to pay for the keel drop. It is in their best interest to make sure all damage is repaired or they might have to pay out for the whole boat if the keep drops off in the middle of the Pacific!


Anyone can run aground, even professionals. I was on a 700 foot container ship that grounded in Charleston Harbor when a Submarine forgot the rules of the road. I was not on the bridge, but I heard the chain running out of the locker from the officers mess and felt the screws go full astern popping us up on a sand bar. You are in good company!
 

67rway

Member II
Lots of strong opinions on the following, but here ya go:
4. Carefully inspect for leakage from inside hull to keel joint (flood as needed; food coloring?). If not leaking gain access to ALL keel bolts, carefully inspect nuts/washers/surrounding, and re-torque. I got almost a turn on one of mine a few years ago.

Do lead repair as above and go sailing.
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
I'm looking through the 32-3 manual and not finding it - is there a diagram of where the keel bolts are on a 32-3 anywhere?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
We have a thread on this somewhere. Meantime, here are some photos of an '85 32-3 with the floorboards up. Keel bolts are in some bilge compartments.

Thelonious bilge A.JPG

As I recall, the most-forward keel bolt is hidden. Access to that on my boat was through a square hole sawed into the TAFG wall in the shower bilge area (photo below). It took a flashlight to see it, and I think there was a top hole providing entry of a wrench. That bolt took some detective work to find.

E32-3 bolt access hole - Copy.JPG
 
Last edited:

racushman

Member II
Geoff,

The pictures look like mostly fairing issues. Unless there is evidence of damage/cracking up where the keel meets the bottom of the hull I wouldn't worry about it. With an older boat, chances are good someone has hit the same spot before and what got knocked off was the old repair (which more that likely was something like bondo).

My understanding is there is pretty much always going to be some water that seeps out of that seam between the keel and the hull.

Unless the keel bolts are leaking water into the boat, I don't see a lot to worry about.

As someone pointed out to me recently -- when was the last time I heard of a keel falling off a boat?

Rob
 

Joliba

Contributing Member
These are among the many previous threads on this topic. In 2009 we dropped our keel due to a similar problem. Total cost $2500. If you are crossing the Pacific you definitely should drop the keel, inspect the bolts, rebed and secure the bolts. My choice is 3M 4200. If you use 5200 you will have a nightmare trying to remove the keel after a future incident. Hopefully your bolts are all in good condition. But if not, now is the time to address it.
Mike Jacker



 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
Well it took a month of insurance bureaucracy, an insurance survey, and then the surveyor allegedly getting pancreatitis, but I got a confirmation from my insurance that they're going to cover the keel fix, keel drop, and mast step. That's a lot of fundamental work - I miss my boat, but it'll be a very productive haulout.

Now to very belatedly try to project plan my mast work...
 

trickdhat

Member III
Blogs Author
Geoff,

Congrats on getting back in the water! Just in time for this fantastic weather. How'd the keel work turn out? Any issues with the bolts?
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
Geoff,

Congrats on getting back in the water! Just in time for this fantastic weather. How'd the keel work turn out? Any issues with the bolts?
Thanks! I’ve been cruising the last two weeks and have been having a great time.

The keel had no significant issues or problems with the bolts, I am TOLD. Unfortunately the yard worked at their own pace and I wasn’t able to get pictures of them, despite asking multiple times. This is the “nice” yard here, though, so I guess I’ll take their word for it. Everything is fixed and faired and looks brand new.

1AA7BCBF-E998-4710-95F8-9837D018319D.jpegThey filled the seam with Sikaflex 291(?) and glassed over that.

In the end, Geico covered everything as part of the running aground. I paid my own money for engine work, standing rigging, prop and such, but the keel rebed, mast step/unstep, and fairing/sanding of everything was covered to the tune of about $11k on a $12k yard job (minus tax and depreciation).
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
Are you insured thru BoatUS --> Geico , or directly with Geico?
BoatUS Geico. They were overall very nice to work with but the surveyor they chose took an extra month to get the report out (got pancreatitis was the excuse)

@trickdhat I used CSR, which I think is short for Cash, Spending.... revenue?
 
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