Raising our Keel and Repairing the Cable (Keel Cable System and Repair)

Raising our Keel and Repairing the Cable (Keel Cable System and Repair)

<–Methods of lifting the keel with boat in the water

After our keel cable broke while in the marina, we ordered a new one and waited a month for it to finally arrive. We still didn't know how it broke, but we knew we needed to replace it. The entire setup was replaced earlier in the year, so we figured only the cable needed to be replaced.

We called Chad who dives in the Great Salt Lake for boat repairs when needed to ask him how much it would cost to have him dive down and repair the cable. The price quoted was really reasonable, and I was ready to have him do it, but he said we should be able to pull it up ourselves fairly easily. He offered to walk over to help when we were ready.

We brought the trailer, my little brother Ian, and my Dad and went down to the marina about 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. It was a lot windier than we wanted, but the incoming storm time had been pushed back past midnight. Sundown was at 7, so we had a limited window to get the repair done.  

Attempt 1

We had told Chad we would be at the dock at 4, but were there an hour early, so we thought we would try some thing prior to him showing up. We didn't want it to get dark on us, and I preferred having the boat completely repaired and back in the water that day.

We decided to try method 1, listed on my previous post for a first attempt. Ian stood on one side of the boat and I on the other. We guided the rope under the boat and loosely tied it off to check our work. I used my bore scope camera to look under the boat to check positioning.

The line was obviously too high to get enough leverage for raising the keel at the upward angle for method 1 to work. We used a collapsible boat hook to push the line deeper as my Dad and Nikki kept the lines tight. This let me push the rope down and Ian monitored the depth on my phone using the scope camera.

We felt this was an ok position, about a foot down the keel. This should allow for the leverage to lift the keel.

My Dad took the line to the winch on the port side and started pulling. Ian stayed to watch if we were making any movement. The line didn't move, but it did snap... right into Ian's knee. It left a bit of a mark and stung, especially with the salt water, but he was ok.

We think several issues existed that caused the line to break. The line was wet and lost it's strength, this was old Home Depot line that had been laying around my garage for several years. The working load is upwards of 1500 pounds, so it had to have been weakened some. The angles around the stanchions are too sharp, this isn't where the break point was, but it didn't help the situation. The line wasn't deep enough. I think this is probably the biggest factor in the failure.

Luckily we hadn't raised the keel any, so there wasn't a swing down of the keel that we were afraid of. We took a ten minute break calmed down.

Attempt 2

We decided to try method 2 from my previous post next. This allowed for a better angle to pull back and up on the keel. We twisted the line to add more strength hoping to avoid another break. We got the line wrapped about three feet down the keel and felt that was a good point.

We slowly pulled the keel up about a foot and a half. We paused at this point and then added the straps mentioned in method 4 of my previous post. We pushed the straps down close to the line. This seemed like the position that would be a straight line to the top of the cabin.

Two straps allowed us to keep one strap tight as we adjusted the other ratchet strap. This required three of us to keep tensions on all the straps and the line under the keel. I didn't think the ratchet straps were really needed. It seemed overkill to me, and that the rope wouldn't slide off the keel.

After I tightened both straps after several adjustments, it happened. The line went slack as it slid from under the keel. Luckily the straps held. We had about another foot that the keel needed to raise to make sure we had no issues getting it on the trailer. The wind had picked up and had me a bit worried about the trailering procedure.

Luckily, Chad showed up right on time and said that he thought all we really needed was to get the keel out of the mud. Then we could get it to the trailer and pull it on. He offered to go and get the Marina tractor if we had problems pulling it all the way onto the trailer. We decided not to raise it anymore and get it on the trailer.

We backed the trailer with the tongue extension down to the water, and Ian and I brought the boat over. The wind was terrible, but luckily, blowing us straight at the trailer. I cut the throttle a hundred feet from the trailer and let the wind take me to it. We came in way to fast, but luckily my dad had gotten into the water and was able to steer us right. This video cuts out as Nikki runs to the car to back the trailer up so I can actually get onto it.

Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, she missed us actually pulling onto the trailer. Though we were able to get right on no problem or extra help needed. We pulled to the top of the ramp and finally took a deep breath.

The marina wasn't really busy and at this point—the state park had closed, so we decided to just repair it right there at the top of the ramp.  We unfortunately missed the keel block and the keel was sitting besides it, but really that was good enough for our purposes.  The bottom of the keel had obviously been sitting in mud, as it was black, and the top was covered in gunk that had floated up the keep locker, but that wasn't a big deal.

The keel looked in good shape still, which I was expecting. The sacrificial anode could be replaced, but I hadn't though to bring or buy a new one. I will just have to replace that one in the spring. My trailer keeps the keel up high, so I still wasn't able to see the extent of the keel cable break.

Me(Daniel), My dad (Barry), Ian (left to right)

I pulled the boat stands from my car and we raised the boat a few inches to expose the connection. Ian climbed under the boat and was able to get his smaller hands up there to work the ring loose on the pin holding on the connector. He pulled the bit off and I was surprised where it had broken.

The cable hadn't broken above the swag fitting, or pulled out of it as I had expected. It was a fairly clean break. I thought it had pulled free from the fitting somehow, some people expected that it rubbed on the turning ball wrong and broke there. I'll cover what I am fairly sure is the issue in the next blog post.

For now, Ian pushed the cable up on the back of the turning ball and connected the new swag fitting to the eye on the keel. We lowered the boat and Ian (Being light as a feather) climbed up and connected the cable to the winch.

We quickly relaunched the boat without much trouble from the wind and called it a day, repair completed, just in time to drive home in the dark.

Failure cause and solution to keep it from happening –>