Join Date: Jan 2011
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My S2 has an encapsulated keel and I love it. My philosophy is that unless I go aground at least once every time I go sailing then I am not trying hard enough to explore, of course it is all oyster bars too and not rock. However, I have hit a couple of things very hard including en engine block and a whole truck (after the storm of '93) and my keel is fine whereas a bolt-on keel would have been very suspect afterwards.
On bolt on keel, much of the strength is in those keel bolts, whack em a few times and fatigue cracking starts, scares me just to think about it. On an encapsulated keel, the tensile strength of the glass holding everything on is probably an order of magnitude higher than the keel bolts of an external keel and does not fatigue crack as do the bolts.
Even if I were to make a jagged hole in the fiberglass, it would be easy to repair using epoxy from the outside and I know I could do it myself. Fixing suspect keel bolts? Not something I'd want to do.
Think about grounding on sand with both types of keel. How many SMALL waves would it take pounding your boat on the sand for your external keel to make its strength suspect and require she be hauled for inspection? Do the same on an internal keel and nothing happens. External keel failures in-use kill people whereas encapsulated keels after an impact might fail slowly if at all and the boat would probably only show increased leakage at the dock.
I feel that the encapsulated keel is much safer. In fact, I would not even consider an older boat with an external keel.