The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2015.11.25 - Bilge Keel Removal

It feels very odd working on the bottom of the hull, I can no longer look into the boat as see in my mind’s eye how I am going to fit her out. This part of the boat, any boat really, doesn’t get seen very often, once or twice a year when she is scrubbed and anti-fouled and rarely this way up.

Still today’s task was to get the starboard bilge keel off in one piece. The previous owner had sheathed the entire hull with glass fibre matting and the first thing to do was to carefully use a chisel to cut through the matting where the keel joined the hull. Then I used my heaviest lump hammer and tapped the keel sideways to break the glue line and off she came. In one piece although she did have a split in the forward end. I’m not sure if I caused that or it was already there, it’s difficult to tell, so I’ll take responsibility for that. Some warming up and some epoxy will sort that out later.

I joined up the dots, the holes that I drilled through the hull to mark the extent of the hull to be removed and then stood and wondered how on earth I am going to make a router jig that will allow me to remove three quarters of the thickness of the hull without completely messing it up. Some of the hull won’t be too much of a problem being nearly flat but the majority requires the jig to be flexible enough to go round the turn of the bilge, be strong enough to restrain a router that wants to wander all over the hull in any direction and be long enough that I can clamp the lower end to the edge on the hull. I also haven’t worked out how I’m going to clamp the upper end.

So, the next task will be to sort out all the wood that has been removed from the hull so far and recover as much of it as possible and put the remainder in the skip. A good cleanup is going to be required as well. That will give me time to think about the jig without wasting time since the clean up has to be done at some point.

I’ll also need to investigate low power heaters as it’s cold out there!

The bilge keel just after being removed.


The larger of the two external holes is obvious but look in the area where the keel has been removed to the right of the big hole. Here the damage has gone right through the hull as well but underneath the keel.


A closer look at the hole under the keel.


Joining up the dots.


Here is the section that on the inside had to be cut away closer to the centre line and it is just where the surprise hole is.


Not so easy to see the pencil lines at the front end of the damaged section.


Some of the holes that need to be filled.


Especially the ones that are under the waterline.