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Keel removal and reinstallation on SO43DS

Joda – 2001 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43DS


The contents and images of this article are based on a Jeanneau Owners Facebook Group post


Joda was hauled out at Rodney Bay Boatyard St Lucia for a full hull overhaul. This included replacing the keel bolts, rudder bearings, shaft seal and bottom paint job.


This article focuses on the keel removal, hull repair and reinstallation which was the most complex project.

Initially the keel was fully sandblasted then coated with a metal primer so it wouldn’t rust while working, but it was then very evident it was weeping water from the hull joint. This was a clear sign that the hull to keel seal was compromised and confirmed our suspicions as when afloat the bolts had been weeping water internally. Since we also wanted to keep a bone-dry bilge we decided to renew the bolts and remove the keel to fully reseal.

condition of keel bolt nuts and plates after tanks had been removed

After a lot of consideration and discussion we left the mast and rigging in situ as the yard were convinced they could safely support it, weather permitting. Normally the yard use 8 to 10 supports for a monohull sitting on its keel. We had 30 supports holding the boat up and in addition straps that are attached to in-ground tie down points. If the weather had changed we planned to lower her back onto the keel and maintain all the supports and straps.


We removed the fuel and water tanks plus the water maker ourselves to make it easier for the guys to get busy with the bolts. This saved us about 8 hours of labor charge.


The keel bolts came out no problem, although on most of them the bolts and nuts turned together. The keel was quite easy to lift off after the bolts/nuts were out, the travel lift just raised the hull off the braced keel. Most of the bolts actually looked quite good but some were crazily corroded.


Fortunately all the keel threaded sockets were all in great shape. We cleaned the top of the keel and the hull to remove old sealant.


The stress cracks from the forward keel bolt hole after we ground back the gelcoat.

Stress cracks from the pair of bolts holes after the leading single keel bolt.


After some basic sanding where the keel rested, we noticed some small stress cracks from the fiberglass on the hull adjacent to the keel, most likely due a grounding by a previous owner. As we moved further aft the cracks were less, confirming that at some point the keel had taken a hit from forward.


Note: molded sump box and matching recess in keel

The SO43DS has Kevlar sandwiched between the fiberglass for extra strength, but when the yard had chipped off the interior layer of the fiberglass, which had water in it, we were surprised to see light through the hull.


Here is a measurement using a metric tape measure.


It appeared that the actual hull is only about 1.5 or 1.75 centimeters thick. This seemed very thin to both ourselves and the boatyard, even including the inner layer of fiberglass, it would be perhaps 2 to 2.25 centimeters thick.


As there were stress cracks in the fiberglass above and below, we decided for the yard to add externally additional fiberglass and epoxy layers, so this was all ground back to sub layers and rebuilt with 5 layers of woven mat and epoxy. Also on the inside more fiberglass was also added at each attachment point along the bilge and at the hull/bulkhead junctions as a further insurance and to deal with a few minor stress cracks there.


The Keel bolt backing plates were sandblasted then repainted and new keel bolts were easily ordered from Jeanneau in France. The next step was to install the keel bolts with locktite making sure to use enough so that it pushed out at the top of the bolt holes so no air or water can get down there......lots of locktite!


Because the top of the keel has a concave shape that is more pronounced than the gentler curve of the hull we included another step, after lifting the boat off the keel again we taped up the exposed threads and coated the tape with mold release (paste wax). Next we spread and taped plastic sheeting to the hull extending about 12 inches out from the keel joint.


A batch of epoxy with epoxy filler was laid it in a mound down the center line of the keel, then the boat was carefully lowered back onto the keel allowing the filler to be pushed out. It was then left overnight to allow the epoxy to set before the boat was lifted off the keel again the following morning. The theory being to ensure a very close and tight fitting hull to keel join.


Following another test fit we removed some high spots and filled some low spots, then did another test fit to check the new gelcoat on the hull totally matched the keel top, it looked great.

After a little clean up and trimming the hull was gently set her down on a bed of 3M 5200 adhesive sealant, which was not allowed to fully compress but allowed to firm up overnight. Then the backing plates, washers and nuts were torqued down.


The keel was double coated with Rust Lok 6980, then with two coats of epoxy with filler to fair and sanded smooth. After that, we then applied two coats of a hard primer (Tuff Stuff) followed by two coats of antifouling (Micron 66). Whew!

With the new bolts, nuts and the extra build-up of fiber-glassing we did, are very sure that Joda’s underbelly is now pretty tough.


Dani and John Oliver – Joda – Sun Odyssey 43DS


www.sailingwithjoda.com      www.facebook.com/sailingwithJODA/



The instructions issued in 2009 by Jeanneau for installing new keels (in French) may be downloaded as a pdf HERE


A pdf of the technical drawing of the standard draft SO43DS keel is available HERE