Keel Work Begins

As detailed in my last post, the keel on Further is in need of a bit of work. In April, the boat went into the water for the first time in almost eighteen months and within an hour or so there was a small trickle of water getting inside the boat via one of the ten keel bolts. Keel-bolt issues are not to be trifled with (do a Google search about the Cheeki Rafiki to see why) so even though the trickle slowed significantly over the subsequent weeks, I still chose to get the issue addressed once and for all.

The thing is: I’ve known since I bought the boat that at some point the keel was going to have to be looked at. Any time Further was hauled out water would drip from the bottom of the keel for a much longer time than expected. And there was clearly a hole in the fiberglass at the forward end of the bottom of the keel (see the image at the top of this page or go to previous post for a close-up photo of the hole). But it was never really a problem. The keel bolts are all in excellent condition and there was never a significant flow of water into the bilge. I realize now, though, that there was always at least a little skiff of water in the bilge and I’m thinking now it was coming in via the keel bolt.

I think now that what happened is that being out of the water for a year and a half allowed the keel to dry out completely, so that when Further splashed in April the water flowed in via that known hole to the bolt and into the bilge. After a while, as the keel became saturated, that flow slowed to where it had been in the past.

Of course, that may all be a massive rationalization but we’ll see in the near future.

Anyway, the company doing the work had said they’d start the week of June 21. I checked Further on Friday the 25th and, as is par for the course for the marine industry in the Annapolis area, they hadn’t done a damned thing. I sent an email that day that played innocent and asked only if there was anything to report, and that while I knew there can always be surprises once projects like this get started what they thought the ETA might be. A reply came quickly saying they were going to get started next week (June 28th) and that the job should take two to three weeks.

You can clearly see saw marks and other signs of excavation around what had been a hole in the forward end of Further’s keel.

At lunchtime on Wednesday, June 30, I again visited Further and still nothing had been done. Needless to say, I was starting to get a little perturbed. Shortly after I’d left the boatyard, however, I got a phone call. The owner of the company was on the other end of the line saying that they’d begun work and that they didn’t think it was going to take as long as originally predicted. Breakthrough!

So yesterday I visited Further again and took the attached photos. In them you can see clear signs where a saw and other power tools have excavated two holes in the keel, both the one at the forward end and another near the aft end. And you can see where they’ve filled gaps in the lead keel and in some of the fiberglass around it.

And you can see where they’ve filled in some gaps in the glass and around the lead keel.

This work will sit for some time and then the keel will again be fully glassed over. And then, theoretically, Further’s keel will be good to go. The company asked if I wanted them to do some other hull work we’d discussed (removing some defunct through-hulls and filling in the holes) since they now figure they’ll have more time than they originally planned for. I’ll decide on that in the next day or so but I might instead opt to use that money for some other projects (i.e.: an arch to mount solar panels and other stuff above the stern). Or, heaven forbid, to save it for future use. I know, right?! How mature of me!

In any case, that’s the current status report on Further’s keel. Keep your fingers crossed but maybe, just maybe, we’ll be back on the water sooner rather than later. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be back in salt water in the next few weeks.