Join Date: Oct 2004
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repairing keel - fiberglass cut
After twenty years in yacht repair and hundreds of fiberglass repairs, this thread brings to mind two of the biggest and most critical repairs I''ve been faced with. One was a very fast Irwin 30 that hit Devils Back Ridge outside Boston harbor while doing six knots under power. The repair to the keel and bilge required EXTENSIVE structural work and, unhappily, no helpful information at all from Ted Irwin. To be sure of success, and after much discussion with some of the most knowledgeable people in the area, I completed the project using epoxies and biaxial fabmats, common weave cloths and one additional keel bolt installed in the rear of the keel, plus the associated encased support plate in the bilge. It''s a huge and complex process which is too involved for here, but if you want the whole sordid tale, e-mail me. I''ll put on a pot of coffee and get started.
The second was a severe keel injury I encountered in Naples, Florida, that nearly accounted for the loss of the vessel. A violent grounding tore the bottom out of the keel case and the ballast, once again unhappily, was boiler punching and concrete. Rust inevitable makes the scrap iron grow and it pulverizes the concrete and the whole mess pours out like the pennies out of this owners pockets. The problem here was securing fiberglass to the keel trunk securely enough to be called safe. I recommended that we removed the entire keel, and I would epoxy in a nice big, one-inch thick (25 foot lightweight boat)2 1/2 foot by 7 foot sole into the belly of the sloop and have a nice, fast one ton keel cast and bolted up. The owner vetoed that and instead insisted that I do it his way: to fiberglass a new bottom onto the hollow keel and find some way to get weight into it without opening the fiberglass inside, as this is what he felt saved the boat. I in turn insisted he sign this big, fat ''release of liability'' form and did what he wanted. The keel took a week or so of fiberglass and epoxy work and I finally filled it from a hole near the top with slow-cure epoxy and 1100 lbs of lead shot. He loved it. The customer must always be right. To my knowledge he hasn''t had any trouble with it, but I''m no fan of gluing up a keel you might ram into a reef.