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Old 06-19-2007
RichmondVI RichmondVI is offline
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Keel fiberglassing/hit some rocks?

Good Day to all. So here is the issue that hopefully all you wonderful people on the sailnet forum can help me with. I recently (3 months ago) made an interesting purchase of a 1983 30' Alero sailboat. It was a semi-custom boat build in fahardo, PR and i think they made about 6-8 of them. There is not much info I could gather about them but a friend of a friend said he had sailed on another one at some point. The gentlman was asking $8000 and I offered him $5000 thinking he wouldn't take it but he did.

Good news:
- all sails in good shape (110% head sail, two spinakers, main, 100% hank on jib)
- good working roller furling
- all rigging is in good shape (running rigging a bit worn)
- great running yanmar (changed oil, replaced zincs, replaced belts, rebuilt water pump, changed all cooling hoses, replaced secondary fuel filter)
- head working (no holding tank need to install one, yikes)
- fractional rig
- hand held gps
- auto pilot
- self tailing headsail winches
- very fun and fast, 8.4 knots on a reach with a slimy bottom in 15 knots as per the gps
- the basic hull design and rig is like a fat J-30 with a HUGE mast. not sure on the exact height but it is taller then the 36' pearson moored next to me

The Bad:
- the interior is pretty much trashed and will need to be redone, not to worried about this, I'm more excited then concerned
- A few soft spots on deck that I have repaired
- The keel problem that i will elaborate on in a bit
- the deck needs painting
- bottom needs painting (no blisters though)
- rudder has some blisters


Over all she is pretty sound as far as sailing her goes. My plan was to get everything ready to go to paint the deck on the mooring and then haul her paint the deck and bottom, replace the floor in the interior, and put her back in the water sail abit and then start the interior. I am almost ready to paint the deck, just maybe 1-2 weekends of sanding/fairing. So dove the bottom today with a tank to scrub the hull and get a REALLY good look at the bottom. This is where my concern has started. I knew when i bought the boat that there was a chunk out of the keel (again it was bought on a whim of sorts). Not too uncommon around here but i figured (hoped?) it would be a few weekends of cutting, grinding, and glassing to fix it. Anyway, today yeiled the real situation.

Just about all of the fiberglass portion of the keel below the ballast was ripped off when it hit what ever it hit. Also, a huge portion of the port side fiberglass around the ballast was ripped off (as little as 30% to as much as 45% of the surface area). This part extends 1/2 way up the trailing edge and then heads to the middle part of the keel ending in a point about 8" short of the hull. It contiues down to the bottom of the leading edge. Good news is that the ballast is lead which i discovered as i dug my bottom scraper into the portion where the fiberglass is missing. There is also a 4" crack along where the keel joins the hull at the trailing edge on both sides. The crack is maybe 1/32" wide at the trailing edge. I also suspect that there is a leak accociated with this problem as my stuffing box drips slightly but i always have about 2"-3" of water in the bilge each week when i get back on the boat to do some work.

i bought the boat figureing i would need to put another $10K and about a 8-9months of weekends spread over a year to get it in good, pretty sailing condition. i currently have about another $2000 in it now plus say another future $1000 for deck painting and $2000 for haul out and bottom painting.

I know its hard to tell from some words on the internet but my questions are as follows:

1) Big picture, is worth pressing forward with this project or cutting my losses and starting to put my paychecks back in the bank for a nicer boat down the road?

2) How serious is this keel problem? money/time? It seems to me it will take a good amount of help from the yard to get that heavy as hell piece of lead off the hull and in postion to do some serious grinding and fiberglassing.

I wanted to add this little piece about myself as well. I am a 25 year old mechanical engineer by education and currently work in a managment postion at the Ritz-Carlton hotel here in St. Thomas in the engineering department. i am not trying to toot any horns here but i generally consider my self very skilled in hands on and theoretical mechanics, materials, and attention to detail. I have quite a few "old salt" type of friends whom i am gather info from as well but no one have really talked to here has given me the serious experience coupled with know how that I am looking for.

Basically, i feel very ignorant about what really is involved in fixing this keel properly as my experience in serious structural boat repairs such as i am faced with is basically zero.

thank you all for any help and guidance. i hope this wasn't too long winded.

Cheers,
Rich
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