Page published: 26 March 2008
The following is Mike Lowson's report of his keel repair copied, in full, from his posting to the old mail list (Now replaced by The Forum):
Little Auk was in a sorry state when we bought her. She had broken away from her mooring in the Moray Firth and gone aground on a rocky beach, holing her in the keel-box area. She had two holes on either side of the lifting keel pivot bolt and from inside the boat, through the inspection hatch, you could see the ground below!
Thankfully, the structure of the pivot bolt was sound and undamaged. There was considerable damage to the rest of the keel area, however, although no further holes.
The first task was to clean the holes to a roughly symmetrical shape, which meant enlarging then a bit in the process. I was fortunate that Little Auk was resting on an elderly launching trailer, which could be sacrificed, so I was able to have her balanced on supports fore and aft, and on her stub keels, and cut away the part of the trailer that the main keel rested on, leaving it free for me to work underneath her.
Having cleaned the holes, I began by building up a series of epoxy/glass fibre layers across them, inside the inspection hatch, to provide a solid base for the rest of the work. There were four layers, each one faired before the next was applied.
Moving underneath, I next mixed some concrete to match that which was already there and filled and faired the holes, and some of the other damage, with this (leaving it slightly concave) which helped ensure balanced stability in the keel area. When that was thorougly dry and smooth, I faired it with filling compound suitable for below the waterline, then coated the whole area with three layers of epoxy / glass fibre, smoothing each layer carefully before the next layer was applied. This took a considerable length of time to ensure that the epoxy had gone off properly.
The next stage was a seeming endless one of filling the repair with below-the-waterline filler then fairing it afterwards. Finally, the whole job was treated with primer then, just before she was launched, coated in antifoul. Black bilge paint was applied on the inside, through the inspection hatch.
The whole repair job took me three months, working mainly at weekends, to ensure that one part of the job was properly set before the next was started.
I am glad to say that the repair seems to have been successful, as Little Auk now has three seasons of wonderful sailing under her keel on the west coast of Scotland, around Ullapool and the Summer Isles, in the company of my wife, son and daughter and two Border collies!
SeaHawks are wonderful little boats.