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Old 11-11-2003
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big bite outta my keel

About a month ago I had an encounter with a rock. When I hauled out my boat last week, I got a look at the damage. A chunk of the fiberglass was torn out, exposing the iron keel beneath. This is not a bolted on keel, so I''m not concerned about structural damage. It looks like it simply needs to be filled. Here''s my question. Should I get it done now, or wait until spring? And if I do let it sit that way for the winter, should I cover it with plastic to prevent rust?
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Old 11-11-2003
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big bite outta my keel

That is really bad news. I really hate being the harbinger of bad news but you have almost the worst condition that you can have (iron and concrete ballast being worse.) In most cases the condition that you have is often the beginning of the end for a boat. To explain, when you open the encapsulation envelope on a iron ballasted keel water is able to move around within the cavity. Even if you drain the cavity as best you can, moisture remains present and over time surface corrosion deterioates the bond between the ballast and the encapsulation envelope. Depending on how your boat is constructed, the lost bond means that you have a loose ballast casting within the envelope and a very thin membrane above it. A simple grounding can then drive the ballast up through the membrane. There really is no easy or reasonably priced way to make the repair to the encapsulation envelope once the bond is broken.

The best that you can do is to drill holes in the general area of the missing laminate to see if water is in the cavity. I would say drill drain holes as far up the keel as you encounter moisture.In most cases water will continue to seep out for a long time after the cavity is opened. You should also grind away any damaged fiberglass. You may be surprised at how far the damage extends. (I have actually done a few of these repairs which is why I will not ever own a boat with an encapsulated keel.) The area at the bottom of the keel is often fairly think laminate but it is often very poorly laid up because of poor working cinditions with the narrow confines of the keel stub.

Hopefully you will be able to to drain most of the water out of the cavity before freezing weather. Water freezing and thawing tends to pry at the bond between the encapsulation and the ballast as well, so drainage is important. Over the winter I would leave the keel open to dry but rig a tent so that water does not splash onto the exposed area.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 11-11-2003
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big bite outta my keel

As Jeff indicated, you really want to drain the water out (of the encapsulated keel) prior to freeze-up!
In addition to the drain holes Jeff suggested (at damage and above), I''d want to drill a weep hole at the lowest point on the keel. While you’re at it, you may as well (right now) grind out the damaged laminate as far as you must to discover dry, bonded ‘glass.
This will allow the laminate itself to dry out over winter.
I’d also examine the interior of the hull, liner, and inserts for stress cracks or crazing that may have resulted from the impact - you may have some consequential structural damage.
Good luck !!!
Gord
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big bite outta my keel

Like they said, its not the greatest thing to happen, but depending on how bad it hit, how big a chunk was taken out, how long it was in the water after is what really matters whether the water has migrated past the spot of impact.

The very first thing I would do is haul the boat and grind the fiberglass away from whole area of impact. Who knows, maybe the iron keel to fiberglass shell had made a good bond at that area and the water intrusion is limited to that one particular spot? If you are lucky & it is isolated you can let it sit and fix it, if not you''ll have to do what everyone else suggested.

I might add that I would think about also forcing hot air (like a heatgun with a high volme of air?) into the dilled holes enough so that you can possible feel or see air coming out your weep holes. Leave that on as long as possible and you might be able to get most all the moisture out. Seal the thing back up well and go sailing. I think if it was a good qualitysolid pice of iron you''d be ok for a long time. Even though I am no fan of iron keels, the reason I say that is because talking to some people that do have exposed iron keels that are not coated claim that the actual loss of iron is negligible in terms of overall mass. They are a mess though with all the rusting and painting they have to do every year (or not paint like I know one guy does). He just doesn''t care what it looks like, but the whole keel looks like it has rust "pot-marks"
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