We lost a keel!

We hauled out Wildling in Malta on Tuesday this week, and as soon as we were clear of the water we found that our port keel was missing! Outremer fits sacrificial keels on the hulls just forward of the sail drives. These are non structural, and serve to protect the sail drive legs in case of an impact with an underwater obstacle.

Starboard side keel or “skeg” is located forward of the saildrive leg to protect it from impact or grounding.

The starboard side keel was fine, but our port side keel is missing!

On the port hull, our keel is gone!

This actually should not have been a surprise, since normally I swim under the boat and check on everything every few days, but since we have been immobilized in the marina in Tunisia, where the water is pretty murky and nasty, I haven’t had a chance to look under the boat. Also, the last time we hauled out in La Grande Motte, I noticed the port keel was not attached too well. There was some flex in it when rocking from side to side and a small amount of water was seeping out from the joint between the keel and the hull.

Since we didn’t have time to replace it then, I decided to leave it and see how we go. Obviously we now know, it was not solid enough. We haven’t hit anything or grounded (that I know of) and there was a lot of marine growth on the attachment area, so the keel must have detached during the passage from Marseille to Tunisia last year.

Attachment pad for the lost keel after cleaning up with the pressure wash.

What to do?

On Tuesday afternoon, as soon as I realized we were missing a keel, I called Outremer. They had a replacement in stock and sent it out by DHL to Malta on Wednesday. Manoel Island Yacht Yard received the keel at noon on Thursday and prepared it for fitting. By Friday afternoon the new keel was epoxied in place, ready to be faired and painted on Monday. You can’t ask for better service than that!

Replacement keel epoxied in place and ready for fairing in.

The guys at the Yacht Yard had to make a new mounting flange to set the keel at the correct angle to the hull surface. The flange and keel were then bonded to the hull. The next step is to grind the flange edges smooth and add filler to keep the hull surface streamlined.

The epoxy needs to set up over the weekend, then on Monday they will fair and prime the keel. Then we will add three coats of anti-fouling paint over the next couple of days and Wildling will be ready to go back in the water.

The other projects we needed done are all pretty much finished. I replaced both of the through hull fittings and valves for the air conditioning sea water inlet filters. The original factory installed fittings were corroding badly and starting to leak. The new fittings are 100% bronze so there should be no more corrosion. This is a bit odd since we have not had any corrosion or leaks on any of the other factory through-hull fittings on the boat.

New bronze through hull fitting for air conditioning inlet water filters. I had to replace the factory fitting in both hulls due to major corrosion and leaks.

We also had the topsides polished and waxed, so Wildling looks shiny new again!

We had the engines and sail-drives serviced, and found a large amount of algae growing in the starboard side fuel filter. They cleaned it all out and we’re adding biocide to the fuel tanks, but I will need to keep changing fuel filters frequently to make sure any remaining gunk is removed.

If everything goes to plan we should be back in the water and on our way on Thursday next week!

6 thoughts on “We lost a keel!

    • Boats are pretty much just a bunch of plastic glass fiber and glue, but you have to have the right glue! Has to be epoxy for anything below the waterline.

      • Hi Ed, no polishing setup on our boat unfortunately, I’m going to have to rely on lots of filter changes for now, but I will look into polishing systems to see if there is one that would work for us.

  1. Do you have a polishing setup for fuel? Seen them and mainly used when at the dock where power is available…. polishing from main tank to a day tank seems the most popular when underway on the cast iron sail…. 3 way valves to polish from main tanks during long periods at the dock, on a timer if you are away any length of time. Enjoy your posts and informative upgrades & maintenance.

  2. Doug, are the metal through hull fittings bonded / wired electrically to sacrificial zinc anodes mounted underwater on the hulls such that the zinc anodes corrode before the through hull fittings?

Leave a Reply