Jabberwock, the BoatWorks project O’Day 25, was looking very scruffy around the underparts. The boat had been standing for so long that most of the paint had just fallen off the bottom, and the keel was looking particularly seedy. There was no way we could launch the boat with the keel in such bad condition. It was time for a makeover. A proper keel job done by a boatyard will cost upward of $1,000, but we reckoned we could do it ourselves for a fraction of that. We were lucky in that the keel was lead; a cast-iron keel would have been much more labor-intensive.
If you want to get the last ounce of performance out of your boat, you may be able to buy a set of templates for your keel (try the builder, or www.computerkeels.com). These will ensure that your keel is perfectly symmetrical and fair on both sides. Enthusiastic racers may want to do this, but for the average cruising sailor, near enough is good enough. Even an imperfectly faired keel will improve your boatspeed.