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Old 09-09-2000
Michelle Potter Michelle Potter is offline
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Moondancer 's Keel and Masts

How were Moondancer's keel and junk-rigged masts constructed?

The Keel:

We chose the long, shoal-draft keel made of 4,000 pounds of lead. We didn’t make the lead keel ourselves because we felt like the project was too difficult and dangerous to mess around with. We left the keel to the experts at Mars Metals in Ontario, Canada, and had them truck the keel down to us in Florida. As a second point, we studied the finances and didn’t feel that we’d really save that much money by making the keel ourselves.

We preferred the long keel for a number of reasons. First, we thought it gave the boat a strong, structural integrity. Second, it gave us a shallower draft (four feet versus 5.5 feet). Third, when we ground the boat, we don’t do as much damage to the boat as we would with a fin keel. I would then recommend a full, lead keel instead of the concrete-and-scrap-metal keel.

In fact, Pete and Annie Hill were unsatisfied with their first concrete-and-scrap-metal keel, though they neglected to mention why. They eventually went with a British-designed, cast iron wing keel made by Warwick Collins. If, however, you are committed to this keel, I guess the best choice would be to pick a lot of small pieces of steel and rebar that you can pack densely into the concrete.

The Masts:

Concerning the masts, we thought that Benford’s 24-stave design was overly complex. We went with an eight-stave "Noble" design, a sketch of which is shown on page 126 of Hasler & McLeod’s book, Practical Junk Rig. This mast system was also written up in two different magazines: Good Old Boat and Wooden Boat.

To meet the thickness requirements at the mast partners, my husband Whitney built a separate, octagonal, wooden centerblock that fits inside the main mast and runs from the foot of the mast up to several feet above the partners. Otherwise, the staves were just tapered in width, not thickness. We preferred having a stronger (if slightly heavier) mast.

By the way, if you need help tackling this project, there’s a pretty active boat-building newsgroup Rec.boats.building at Usenet. The archives to this newsgroup can provide answers to some of your questions.