[Public-list] Water in Keel Cavity

John Irving a30blueteal at gmail.com
Mon Nov 22 19:10:47 PST 2004

This morning I checked my boat and noticed a wet spot about 14" long
along the bottom of the forward end of the keel. The boat is on stands
and is covered, with the front end of the keel blocked about 4" higher
than the back. There is no opportunity for water to enter the boat. I
have concluded that the only source of this water can be existing
water in the keel cavity which is slowly weeping through the laminate.

I am concerned about two things:

1) Water freezing in the keel cavity over the winter causing damage.

2) Eventual delamination of the fiberglass from inside.

I have posted some images of the keel at: 


My research on this problem suggests a range of opinions from "minor
problem, wait and see what happens" to an unrepairable situation that
will eventually end up in the flaking and swelling of the cast iron
keel and delamination and failure of the laminate from the inside.
Most writers on the subject suggest the problem is usually the result
of a heavy grounding. There is certainly evidence of scratches and a
gouge on the keel, but the surveyor was unable to locate any
significant cracks.

I've read several accounts of owners drilling holes in the bottom and
sides of their keel to let water drain out, let the keel cavity dry,
and then fill with either expandable foam or epoxy. Another owner on
this list mentioned previously that he fixed a wet ballast problem by
putting a new laminate on the top of his keel. Someone else has
suggested a garboard drain.

Two questions for the list:

1) Has anyone with a similar problem successfully stopped this weeping
(or tried to)?

2) Would listees recommend the following repair: drill holes in keel,
drain keel cavity, fill cavity with epoxy, apply epoxy barrier coat to
hull. Or does this sound too invasive?

3) What is the proper location for a garboard drain? A picture would
be very helpful.

Thank you in advance.

John Irving

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