Skip to main content

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:
  • Updated:
    Original:

"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

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster-EP-2048

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more