ASA and PSIA Instructor
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For whatever reason, I don't believe those few vendors who use iron keels attempt to put a permanent finish on them. They spray them with some gelcoat or thin fairing so they look good when delivered, knowing that a few years of use in salt water will lift the finish. Within say five years, it will all be gone, 100% period, that's just the way it is. I would expect if you asked a Beneteau dealer directly about the what to expect for an iron keel he'd tell you - refinish it with epoxy within 3-4 years. If you cover it properly, the situation will be fixed pretty much permanently.
If you were to get a straight answer from Beneteau, what they would say "it is NOT a defect, what did you think would happen with an iron keel in salt water, happens to all of them,,,"
When I bought a three year old Beneteau in the late '80s it had some rust spots on the keel. I stripped the keel completely, put 5 coats of West system on, and when we sold the boat three years later, the keel still looked new . A few years later I ordered a new R19 from Stuart in Maine, to race one-design. As the keel is steel, I specifically asked Stuart not to finish the keel at all, knowing whatever they put on, I'd have to take it off. The keel came bare and I did the usual, and mandatory, epoxy-coating, even though the boat was brand new.
This is not a hard job, just messy and time consuming. $4,000 for a yard to do it is a reasonable estimate. you can do it yourself for $100, and say 20-30 hours of work.
This situation is the reason I suggest avoiding steel keels - but it is a cosmetic problem that can be easily corrected = just don't expect the builder to do something under warranty they chose not to do when they built the boat. Frankly you should have anticipated this situation when you bought a steel keel. Fix it and enjoy your boat, its otherwidse a nice product, in all honesty I don't understand why they do the iron keels anymore...I've never seen one that didn;t rust unless well epoxied.
Last edited by sailingfool; 11-25-2007 at 10:32 PM.