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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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Discussion Starter #1
One of our club members lost his boat this weekend. Fortunately it happened right in front of the club, and someone saw the boat go over. Myself and two others raced out in one of our pontoon boats and pulled 4 people out of the water. No one was hurt.

Here's what happened as far as I know. I haven't examined the boat, and likely never will be able to.

A father and his 3 adult sons went out for a sail on a beautiful Saturday. Winds were 10-15 mph. They were sailing about 100 yards off the east shore, across from our club, about a mile across the lake, and it was just before dusk. The boat started taking on water. The water ingress was slow at first, and the crew assumed that they had lost a hose for the head. One of the crew went below, threw the 3 life jackets that were already laying out up into the cockpit, and started bailing with a bucket. The engine was started and the crew turned into the wind to drop the sails. The water started coming faster, and the situation was looking bad. Then the boat shuddered a bit, and the water started coming in like a geyser. The sails were still up, and the boat was knocked over almost immediately. The crew who was below swam out of the companionway and grabbed a floating life jacket. One of the crew grabbed the horseshoe. I had just pulled my dinner off the grill when someone yelled that a keelboat just went over. I saw the entire bottom of the boat, but it took a bit for me to react. I guess I wasn't really sure I was seeing what I was seeing. The engine started smoking badly, which was my first clue that this was a really bad situation. Someone called 911, someone else got on the vhf to the coast guard, and 3 of us headed for the docks. When we arrived on the scene 5-10 minutes after the boat went over, most of the boat was underwater. The mast is in the mud, and there is a small amount of air trapped in the hull keeping it afloat just breaking the surface of the water. According to one of the crew, there is a large hole (4-6 inches) torn in the hull at the back of the keel joint. My guess is that the boat had corroded keel bolts. The aft bolt was likely the only one in relatively good condition. When the forward bolts let go, the aft bolt took a piece of the boat with it as the keel came off.

This morning one of our club members tied a couple of white plastic barrels to the wreck. There was a lot of traffic on the lake today, there was no sense in having to do another rescue.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

Holy *#^#^!!! Glad everybody was okay in the end. Sounds like some good thinking by all on shore and a good move as well tying the buckets to warn of the hazard.

I had a wooden boat once with a poorly supported keel (design flaw) and this story makes me shudder! As you might expect I now have an overbuilt (heavy) encapsulated fiberglass keel on my new boat.

MedSailor
 

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Telstar 28
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Denby—

Better check your keelbolts.
 

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Telstar 28
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I wonder what the cause of the keel failure was??
 

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Apparently, there is a design weakness with the 3 digit series of O'days, at least the larger boats like the 302 and 322. This in not the first one to have lost its keel, and where there is smoke there is fire. There are lots of boats with a very similar design in the same age range and their keels are not comming off, so its not just an age related thing. I owned an O'day 322 and if I still had it, I think I'd be considering dropping the keel to at least inspect and likely to replace the bolts and having a backing plate designed to fit in the bilge to spread the load over a wider area. I am a bay sailor, but the bay is nearly 25 miles wide where I sail and loosing your keel in the middle of a crossing would be a very dangerous situation, especially if you weren't buddy boating with someone.
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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Discussion Starter #7
The really fortunate part of this sinking was it's timing. The boat sank on Saturday, and the 4 men who came out of the water said that some of their wives and children were supposed to come sailing Sunday. That would have put at least 4 more people in the water, including small children. Since the crewman who went below could only find 3 life jackets (there were more but he didn't know where to look), it could have been ugly.
 

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One of None
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glad no one got hurt! But this news doesn't help me feel better about my "encapsulated" keel that doesn't have bolts (at least not that I know of) Even though it seems very very solid.
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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Discussion Starter #9
I do a visual a couple times a year.
Visual of what? I would put a torque wrench on them to see if they hold torque or break off.

When I was rebuilding my boat, I checked my keelbolts with a torque wrench. Since there are little to no specs available for my boat, I guessed on the torque based on the bolt size. I figured they could easily hold 150 pounds, so I set the torque wrench at 120. None of them moved.
 

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Visual of what? I would put a torque wrench on them to see if they hold torque or break off.

When I was rebuilding my boat, I checked my keelbolts with a torque wrench. Since there are little to no specs available for my boat, I guessed on the torque based on the bolt size. I figured they could easily hold 150 pounds, so I set the torque wrench at 120. None of them moved.
Haven't done a torque test but I check the bolts and nuts for any sign of corrosion and when the boat is on the slings checking the keel to hull joint.
 

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2002 Catalina 270
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Haven't done a torque test but I check the bolts and nuts for any sign of corrosion and when the boat is on the slings checking the keel to hull joint.
This is exactly how i inspect our 1987 Pearson 27... about the same vintage as the O'Day 302. I wonder if we should do more. At last haulout this past spring everything looked good but what exactly should i look for? We have a small amount of surface rust but nothing alarming. We do have a backing plate on each bolt but they are nopt as large as they could be... about 3" square. The keel joint looks good with no separation except for the seem... (no gap.)


I'm glad that this was not worse for those guys... sounds like timing was everything in this situation and they had some good help out there!
 

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Haven't done a torque test but I check the bolts and nuts for any sign of corrosion and when the boat is on the slings checking the keel to hull joint.
I am very grateful everyone is ok! This could have ended much worse..

Checking the keel to hull joint is good practice. Unfortunately many production boats including cetarin models from O'Day, Pearson and Catalina, to name but a few, had plywood laminated into the keel stubs to save labor time and build thickness faster. Catalina stopped this practice in 1987.

Sadly keels are surrounded by water on both sides, bilge, and ocean/lake side. Eventually water gets into the keel stub and if wood is present it begins to absorb moisture and rot. Now add stainless keel bolts to the mix and you have a perfect environment for stainless steel crevice corrosion. You can NOT see crevice corrosion of keel bolts because it is happening below the washers inside the keel stub where there is little oxygen.

I have stated this many times before, and will say it once again, we WILL be seeing more events like this as time passes and these boats get older. As someone above mentioned this is NOT the first O'Day to loose its keel like this. There was one a couple of years ago on the great lakes that suffered a similar problem.

I dropped the keel on my old Catalina 30 about ten years ago and had to replace 70% of the keel bolts and also remove the wood core and re-build the keel stub. I am fairly certain that keel would have fallen off by now if I had done nothing.

If you have ANY signs of keel smile that exhibits moisture for more than a few hours after haul out the keel joint should be further examined and the keel should probably be dropped and re-bedded with bolts replaced that need it. Mars Metals, a large keel maker in Canada, does full J bolt replacement. While not cheap they are one of the few shops that replace keel bolts to like new standards and do it the right way.

Many members of sailing forums often give potentially dangerous advice when it comes to keel smiles. "It's fine they all do it" etc. etc.. They CAN be serious and just because many fin keel boats have smiles does not mean it is safe to do nothing in all cases..

A dry thin crack, like you'd see in drywall, is usually ok but the inside of teh keel stub should also be examined for moisture damage. A crack that leaks moisture for more than a few hours after the boat is on the hard is usually a bad sign that water has penetrated the keel to hull joint and your probably in need of a re-set.

This keel joint was still leaking after an entire winter on the hard = BAD!!:


This is crevice corrosion of a Pearson keel:



Crevice corrosion of an Ericson keel bolt:



The plywood keel stub laminate of a Pearson 26:

 

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Main Sail
Do you recommend the torque test.
On your first picture, what exactly are we looking for that we can see in the picture?
 

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Super Moderator
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Main Sail
Do you recommend the torque test.
On your first picture, what exactly are we looking for that we can see in the picture?

Look at the water and rust stains dripping off the keel. This boat had been on the hard for about six months and the keel joint was still weeping water. The joint should be dry and not weeping water any within a few hours of haul out not months & months..

Here are a couple more bad ones. All photos taken in the spring after a full six months to dry..



 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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Discussion Starter #16
Main Sail
Do you recommend the torque test.
On your first picture, what exactly are we looking for that we can see in the picture?
I don't know if the torque test is the right thing to do, but I can tell you one thing, if my keel bolts looked like the ones above, they would have snapped at 120 lbs of torque.
 

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Telstar 28
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I don't know if the torque test is the right thing to do, but I can tell you one thing, if my keel bolts looked like the ones above, they would have snapped at 120 lbs of torque.
Just don't do it two days before launch or you will have lost a whole season if a bolt snaps.;) For boaters up North if you do a torque test do it in the fall so you have all winter to fix this. It is time consuming and $$... For Southern boaters, who sail less in the ultra hot weather, perhaps June would be a good time to do a torque test..?

Only do a torque test if you are ready to deal with the consequences..
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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Discussion Starter #19
Only do a torque test if you are ready to deal with the consequences..
My thought is that you should delay the torque test only if you're ready to deal with the consequences. I would rather break a keel bolt in the slip, and have to haul the boat for the season, than lose a keel out on the water.
 

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My thought is that you should delay the torque test only if you're ready to deal with the consequences. I would rather break a keel bolt in the slip, and have to haul the boat for the season, than lose a keel out on the water.
I would say you "ARE" ready to deal with the consequences as Mainesail said. ie lose a summer of sailing. UNLESS, do yards work in the winter back that way? in that case, tighten the bolts when you pull the boat, then fix over winter. To me, that would be the better option.

Marty
 
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