Dropping the Keel on Hound


Here in Maine boatyards and marinas are seen as essential businesses. Good thing, too, because there is always work to be done on boats.

Between sheltering in place last weekend we spent a quick afternoon dropping the keel of AKC Hound, a 1959 Melody 34 yawl, designed by Charles Hunt and Charles Morgan and built by Surfliner Corp. A 60-year-old, fierce looking gal, Hound’s last ride was in 2011, winning her class in the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. She has been awaiting her turn patiently, and this last weekend she rose to the top of the punch list. Photos are attached, pretty self explanatory.

The keel bolts had been taken off, and the hull slings put in place. A combination of hauling the hull up on her slings (note the frame for the slings built for the purpose) and hammering wooden wedges slowly widened the hull-to-keel gap. Once the keel was free of the plywood (Weldwood Royal Marine!) hull the task was to haul the keel out from under the hull on its homemade skid. Tractor with a chain bridal was the right combination for that. Once the keel was away from the shed we had a little look inside it: water, mung, and keelboats fiberglassed in place in kind of a rube Goldberg fashion. And while I have not looked closely at many keels to see exactly how their bolts are secured, this approach was mildly surprising. I guess I expected a wee bit more structural metal.

How to get the water out of the keel? Drill a hole in the keel, of course! Ah, the ease of boatyard answers. (I had noticed other holes in the keel, drilled years back when she first came on the hard after her 2011 victory.)

Next weekend’s shelter in place chore is to flip the hull over in its slings. Some time after that hull will be refiberglass and the keel repositioned after her own makeover. One look at the keel boats, with their rust and twists, got the collective wondering, perhaps, if making a new keel might be a better solution. Curious and intelligent Points East readers, feel free to send ideas for how to flip the plywood hull in her slings. (And feel free to point us in the direction of ideas about designing and building her new keel.)

Molly Mulhern
Camden, Maine