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Home : The Happy Return : Restoration : Hull Restoration : Re-launch : Masts and Fittings : Deck Fittings & Hatches : Sails & Rigging : Fit-out, Companionway & Flag : Re-dedication : Engine : New Keel

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New Keel

The Happy Return was laid-up after the 2012 sailing season under cover at Gweek boatyard for routine maintenance work. The keel was reinforced but not replaced during the initial restoration by the Association in 2000.

At Gweek October 2012At Gweek October 2012At Gweek October 2012

This season it became apparent that a possible invasion of Gribble worm should be investigated during an end of season lift-out.

This became obvious after close examination and the garboards (bottom plank on each side next to the keel) and steel plates re-inforcing the old keel were removed after completely stripping out below decks.

The photographs taken on 10th November 2012 show the damage to the keel by the Gribble worm, but the oak floors appear to be in very good condition. Some of the floors and futtocks were replaced by us in 2000 but many are still original. There have been previous keel pieces scarfed-in during the vessel's past life and these can be seen in the photographs. The new one-piece keel will replace all these repairs.

There are about 56 species of Gribble worm which are marine crustaceans related to the woodlouse, pale white and small (1–4 millimetres long). They cause a problem by boring into wooden vessels and piers etc. throughout the world. Attacked wood can become spongy and friable. Their burrows are about 1-2 mm in diameter and can be several centimetres long.

Gribble WormNew Keel 2012New Keel 2012New Keel 2012

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A frame will be welded up to support the hull prior to dropping the old keel after undoing the keel bolts. A new keel will then be fabricated in one piece from a 44' oak tree as will the two new garboards. Any planks showing signs of rot will also be replaced as necessary although as noted the ship is in fine shape - a credit to all the continual ongoing work carried out by the Association.

The keel will be shrouded underneath and partially up both sides by welded steel to protect against further damage from the area underneath the keel which can only be anti-fouled when hauled-out.

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It is also interesting to note the particularly fine lines of this Kitto build seen from the bow shots when she is out of the water.

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Friday 23rd November 2012 - the 44' oak tree arrives on a 45' trailer all sawn ready to use for the keel, garboards and any replaced planks. The steel for the supporting frame is also ready for welding into shape and work is progressing on a complete recaulking of the deck.

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Any planks which need replacing have now been removed and all the frames have been found to be in fine shape apart from two with shakes which will also now be replaced. (Checks are cracks across the growth rings, shakes are cracks between the rings and knots are remnants of branches) The engine has now also been moved out of position to provide access to the keel bolts.

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Tuesday 27th November 2012 - The steel cradle has now been fabricated and is supporting the hull ready for the removal of the keel.

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Monday17th December 2012 - the old oak keel which is over 100 years' old is removed - but only with the help of a chain saw. There are also a couple of images of the keel bolts which were specially fabricated in stainless steel when they were replaced during our previous restoration work in 2000. Note the crevice corrosion which is clearly illustrated in the photographs.

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New Keel 2012New Keel 2012New Keel 2012

Crevice Corrosion: The corrosion resistance of stainless steel is dependent on the presence of an ultra-thin protective oxide film on its surface, but it is possible under certain conditions for this oxide film to break down. Crevices between materials can promote corrosion. To function as a corrosion site, a crevice has to be of sufficient width to permit entry of the corrodent, but narrow enough to ensure that the corrodent remains stagnant; this usually occurs in gaps a few micrometres wide, and is not found in grooves or slots in which circulation of the corrodent is possible.

New keel bolts have been fabricated and are galvanised before fitting in an attempt to cure this problem.

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Friday 25th January 2013 - the new oak keel has been fashioned and is now in place after being bolted on to the floors. You can also see the shoe which is being constructed to line the base and sides of the keel. The exact form, final coating and method of fixing is subject to much deliberation.

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28th January to 26th February 2013 - The keel shoe was fabricated, galvanised and fitted into place. The garboards also completed and fitted and the new planks fitted.

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New Keel 2013New Keel 2013New Keel 2013New Keel 2013

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Tuesday 12th February 2013 - The old deck cauking had now been completely removed and cleaned out before re-caulking by paying out hair and pouring heated Jeffries glue over to seal. A laborious traditional method but it was decided to recaulk the deck completely and again follow the old ways.

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Thursday 11th April 2013 - Work is underway to prepare Happy Return for her voyage back to Penzance tomorrow at 6 am. She will be lifted back in this evening at the top of the tide and a shot of the crane at Gweek is seen from the deck of the boat. Here she is in all her glory after a complex but successful refit.

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Friday 12th April 2013 - Happy Return arrives back to Mounts Bay after her restoration work at Gweek. She is seen here arriving at 2.45 pm passing St. Michael's Mount ready for her 2013 sailing season.

New Keel 2013

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