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post #31 of 34 Old 09-18-2013
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Re: Bolt on Keel

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Originally Posted by champlain94 View Post
Would you purchase a boat with a bolt on keel VS encapsulated. I looked at an Ericson which is a great sailboat. I had no idea they have bolt on keels. There is water in the bildge of this boat. Im not sure where its coming from but it tasted salty. I researched bolt on keels. Wow it cost a lot of money to have them dropped and repaired properly. There is enough maintenance and cost with owning a sailboat. This is all new to me. What is your opinion?
Actually I would buy a bolt on external ballast before encapsulated. For a rocky granite coast encapsulated ballast would probably be my last choice unless really well executed..

I have seen far too many encapsulated boats hit rocks and then require months of "drying out" the keel before any repairs can be made. Watched an Island Packet sit on the hard burning up an entire season before it was dry enough to repair.

On the other side I have seen external lead patched up while still in the slings and dropped back in all in the same day.

I have also seen encapsulated keels split open in the winter due to entrapped water likely from an earlier grounding and improper dry-out time... While there are some builders who did encapsulated well, such as Caliber, many do not and the dry out times after a hit can be extensive. This means an out of commission boat for a good part of the sailing season.

This was one of my customers boat with internal ballast. The internal ballast got wet, it froze and split the entire keel bed meaning more water drained into the encapsulation. Arghhhh... Note the upwardly cracked fiberglass between the bilge hoses...




For those who don't think bolt on is robust enough this was a Hunter 340, a boat many pooh-pooh as a "production boat". Pretty darn tough, if I do say so myself....

Check out this chunk out of a lead keel below!!! That was a HARD HIT, about as hard as it gets. This boat did not sink nor lose the keel. All keel bolts were still intact despite there being only a few of them compared to some other builders in this size range and this was..

This was a FULL BORE hit to solid immovable granite. Both the keel and hull survived to sail another day. While the keel was re-set it was more to inspect and die test the bolts.


If that 4100 pound lead keel on a 11,000 pound Hunter 340, with only 5 keel bolts, can handle that, how do you suppose the 3850 pound 12 bolt keel on this 36' 8900 pound day sailor would do? It would likely move the granite!!



There are differences in quality among encapsulation built boats as well as external bolt on. Buy a well built example of either and you'll be doing well.

I don't hear anyone running away from world cruiser brands such as Morris, Passport, Hinckley, Halberg Rassy, Malo, Cape Dory, Bristol, Gozzard Yachts, Valiant, Pacific Seacraft etc. etc.. all of which use external ballast. In fact the opposite is true and most of these boats are some of the most coveted cruisers ever built.

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-18-2013 at 03:31 PM.
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post #32 of 34 Old 09-18-2013
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Re: Bolt on Keel

I too would prefer external ballast. It has design advantages in terms of shaping the keel With internal ballast the designer is limited in shaping the keel to a shape that can be pulled from a mold.

Bouncing around the rocky PNW it's nice to have that big lead "bumper" down there.
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post #33 of 34 Old 09-18-2013
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Re: Bolt on Keel

Bob-
I was thinking about "cheaper" when that was first asked and, not knowing, at first thought an internal keel might be cheaper. But then I started to wonder about the "indirect" costs of having an encapsulated keel.
You've now got to have a building that is perhaps eight feet taller, because the keel is a part of the hull from the start, and that makes the hull "taller" all during production.
You've now got to shift thousands of pounds more weight in one unit during production, as the ballast usually has to be installed before the deck goes on.
You've now got to send every worker and every internal fitting six or eight feet higher up into the air to get it into the hull, time, expense, and some added risk.

Having an externally hung keel allows the hull and the entire production facility/process to be literally smaller and faster, which should mean cheaper. And I've seen a large boat delivered by barge, with the keel sitting next to it in a cradle, waiting to be rejoined at the delivery site after a trip from NZ to NY.

So I'm just wondering...when you say the encapsulated ballast is cheaper, is that just based on the materials used, or on an analysis of all the manufacturing factors affected by that choice? It would seem to be a more complex "real" cost issue than just the materials. And not being intimate with boatbuilding, I can only make a guess at that.

(FWIW, my gut preference has always been to external too. I just don't like "sealed" assemblies very much when there's any chance they'll need to be accessed in the future.)
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post #34 of 34 Old 09-18-2013
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Re: Bolt on Keel

Hello:
You bring up good points but no.

I am talking about the overall cost of building the boat. It's fewer steps and easier steps to do internal ballast. That's why it's done. I'm not speculating. Fitting and fairing an external keel is a lot more work than dropping a rough slug of ballast into a grp keel envelope.

Most boat yards are built with 'mezzanine" level that allows the workers to access the boat during construction without using a ladder.

When you see that boat being trucked with the keel off laying on the trailer it is most propbably to avoid being over regulation shipping height. Generally around 12.5'.

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Last edited by bobperry; 09-18-2013 at 03:12 PM.
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