Keel Bolt Inspection and Repair

Published on April 14th, 2022

by Darrell Nicholson, Practical Sailor
If your potential dream boat has more than 20 years behind her, one item that will likely come up on a survey is keel bolts — the heavy duty fasteners that keep your keel from going on a bottom tour while you reach for handholds on your suddenly tippy craft. And even if you are not in the market for a new boat, it is always a good idea to take a close look at these essential structural components. A proper inspection will require the boat to be out of the water.

Despite advances in imaging technology, keel bolts are still very difficult to fully inspect without a bit of surgery. (We will be looking at keel-bolt imaging options in a future report.) Fortunately, some hints of trouble are obvious, like large gaps in the keel-stub joint, weeping rust stains near the keel-stub joint or crumbling bolt-ends in the bilge.

This year new World Sailing rules requiring a keel inspection took effect. Additional rules related to keels take effect next year. The rules describe the type of inspection required to participate in one of the offshore racing categories. – Full report

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