All Ground Up

"I am repairing an older 19-foot daysailer that has a slow but persistent drip from the bottom of the keel; the drip comes from an area about 6 inches square. The ballast is 400 pounds of iron, encapsulated in the fiberglass shell that is part of the outer hull. When I ground down the laminate, I could see that some of it had delaminated.I ground the surface as smooth as possible and
Author:
Publish date:

"I am repairing an older 19-foot daysailer that has a slow but persistent drip from the bottom of the keel; the drip comes from an area about 6 inches square. The ballast is 400 pounds of iron, encapsulated in the fiberglass shell that is part of the outer hull. When I ground down the laminate, I could see that some of it had delaminated.

I ground the surface as smooth as possible and drilled holes in the glass to help drain the water; I can plug them when it’s drained out. But water still seems to work out through the glass surface, and, since the bilge also seems to be damp, I’m beginning to think the entire keel may be waterlogged.

I’ve been advised to dry out the keel with heat, refair the iron foil with putty, and then reglass the damaged area. But since I’m not sure what the underlying problem is, should I patch and hope for the best or continue to diagnose and hope I find the answer? "

-- Paul Sirotta , D’Iberville, Minnesota

Don Casey replies : There are two issues here. First is the actual keel repair. The right way to proceed is to clean the iron and then repair the fiberglass encapsulation. Since you plan to do the glass layup anyway, you should continue to grind down the worst of the drip site(s), which will let you take a closer look at the actual keel. It should also let out more water.

Whenever you laminate fiberglass over an iron surface like a keel, always grind the surface bright and then immediately cover it with resin. While the resin is still wet, use a wire brush to lift off any rust that may still be on the surface. Rust will compromise the bond between iron and glass.

You must also keep the cavity from refilling with water, so the ballast must be well sealed at the top. First get the bilge dry, perhaps by applying heat, and then seal the ballast with several layers of fiberglass. This will take both time and money, so you first have to decide how large an investment of both you want to put into this boat.

Related

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more

Allures-459-2018

Boat Review: Allures 45.9

Allures is not a name on the tip of many American sailors’ tongues, but it should be. After the debut of its 39-footer last year, the French company has made another significant entry into the U.S. midrange market with the Allures 45.9, an aluminum-hulled cruiser-voyager with ...read more