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post #1 of 22 Old 04-27-2014 Thread Starter
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Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

“There’s a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza.”

Or in my case, the hole is in the keel on the trailing edge.

While prepping for bottom paint I notice a rusty, damp spot. Brushing it a bit harder made it start to weep. A poke with a screwdriver caused a gush of water. I drilled several holes in the bottom edge and hit geysers with each one.

Apparently I have been using the keel as an emergency water supply.
May 3rd launch is now postponed. Turns out that May 3rd is National Fiber Glassing Day anyway so I will fit right in as I make the repair and seek out the entry point.

So what do you suggest I use to fill this superfluous water tank?
I looked at:
Interlux Watertite Epoxy Filler
West Marine Polyester Baoters Resin
Marine Tex ('hardens like steel, sands like wood" ...how can that be?)
And of course the traditional West resins / hardener.

Also my keel does not have the drain plug that is on larger boats. Do you suggest I put one in? Or should I just drill a hole each fall and plug it each spring?
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post #2 of 22 Old 04-27-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

As far as how the water got there I have 2 theories:
1. Rudder stock is leaking
2. Drain from cockpit is leaking

I have tried taking pictures in the bilge, of the areas that are hidden, and they all appear to be dry.

Only thru hull is a galley sink and it is dry.

While I have resin I was thinking that I might use a baby bottle brush to apply a thin coat of resin to the inside of the cockpit drain. This should seal any cracks in this pipe which is about 14" long.

I did pump out the bilge last spring and this year

Or the water has been in the keel for years. I had noticed a SMALL rust stain last year and ignored it.


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post #3 of 22 Old 04-27-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

Wow, that's impressive. And scary. Good luck!

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post #4 of 22 Old 04-27-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

I would imagine that to do it right you would need to dry out the keel completely. That would take a really long time. For this season you could use thickened epoxy to fill holes, then multiple layers of epoxy and class over that. In the long run, you will need to figure out how to get all the water out of the keel and keep it out.

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post #5 of 22 Old 04-28-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

Try to seal the area with plastic sheet and clay/putty and pull a vacuum to see if there is a leak somewhere other than the area you are working on. If the vacuum holds there are no other leaks it will boil the water/moisture out in a few hours. If it doesn't hold the leak is somewhere else. My guess, it will be a bitch to find. You will probably have to drop the keel.
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post #6 of 22 Old 04-28-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

I am assuming this is an encapsulated keel. Many were filled with iron, and if the keel leaked and the iron got wet, would expand and destroy the keel. Sounds like you don't have that problem. But that much water inside is a major concern. As has been stated, you really need to find out where its coming from. Just putting in a drain is not the solution.

Since you are in Toronto, I assume you sail in fresh water. If you were in salt water, if fresh water came out, you would know it came from the bilge area.
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post #7 of 22 Old 04-28-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

encapsulated keels often don't have a bilge that is watertight from the lower parts of the keel. Just like a rudder gets wet, so will such a keel. OP's keel looks like the lead is not the full size of the actual keel and was filled with some kind of filler. Over the years water decomposed it. Only way to dry the keel is to start at the top.. the bilge. Any wetness in the bilge will work it's way down. I don't know what kind of filler can be used to displace water and still bond to the insides of the keel and be structural So it has to be dry.

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post #8 of 22 Old 04-28-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

3 boats back now, we had one with an encapsulated keel. During survey we discovered water.

The cure was much as you say, drill some holes, dry it out, then inject a pile of epoxy. We had it done by a yard as part of the "deal" with the buyer, so I don't know what epoxy they used.

National fiber glassing day indeed Best of luck, and by the way, admire very much your positive disposition on the matter!
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post #9 of 22 Old 04-28-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

You didn't mention the color of the water that gushed out. In the one pic, it is clear and that is curious. If it has been in there for any length of time, and you have an iron/steel keel then I would expect your gusher to be rusty, very rusty water. If it is a lead keel, then not so much.
Sadly, were it mine, I believe I would have to inspect the whole area and that would mean removing the fairing from that part of the keel. All of the putty (or whatever) and the glass covering it.
I don't think you can decide on repairing this until you have done that. Sorry, but I'm afraid you're in for a bit of unpleasant work.

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post #10 of 22 Old 04-28-2014
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Re: Keel: a.k.a Water Bucket

I'd agree with capta. If you want to "do it right" you need to find out what is happening in there. Read up some about encapsulated keels, which is what you've got, and you'll need to excavate until you can see what is left in there. Then thoroughly drain, dry, clean, and refill/reattach as needed.

For a more casual sailor you could just drain it, seal it back up, and ignore it until something breaks, and that could be a very very long time. Every time you tack the boat, the keel filler will wobble back and forth a little bit more, until it cleans out all the old filler. Eventually you should hear the noise (thunk!) and then really think about not delaying any further. (G)

Personally...I'd roll up my sleeves and not wait for that.
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