The Old Lady Needed Some Strong Underwire!


HEY, A Little privacy here.

What? Oh just simmer your britches, this is a wood boat site, any old lady is your boat. Okay, so all you goody two shoes can keep reading. Or just look at the pictures. You read Woody Boater for the articles… Right! Got ya.. So here.

Before, and the custom U Bolts

We are talking huge fabricated U bolts, Measured to fit around the Keel and come through to the top of the keelson

They are stainless 316 grade heavy, and strong like Bull. The U – bolts are 5/8  Nuts are 15/16,

We drilled hols through the Keelson and outside the keel. WHY? The prop shaft running through there.

Then we hammered the ship out of them to go up. We put 5200 below the threads and where it intersects with the wood. Then tightend the  them.

Painted with bottom paint

They sit right on the keel tight. 5 1/2 inches wide on the inside, and measure height based on the location. It was a math exercise for sure.


This is the drawing I gave to Cliff, at Cliff and Berts Metal Fabrication here on the Northern Neck. THE BEST! No website! And that means one thing. They are busy and great to work with.

SO WHY DO THIS? She had formed a leak at the seam between the keel. When on the railway, no leak, then in the water, her keel would sag. Hey, like any old lady. Anyway. Once on the railway we tapped cotton in the seams, used Seam Compound, and then did the ubolts. And from the engine, or shaft forward. Went right through the Keelson and Keel and used a single Threaded Stainless rod  and so on. I will add, drilling holes in your hull is not for the faint of heart. Especially a novice. And two of us second guessing each other is a test of manhood.

Did I mess up? YES, multiple times, and now know how to make dowels out of cedar. So I know that as well.  This morning we drop her back into the drink…and have a drink at Bilge watch Beach. STAY TUNED we have a VERY VERY special boat going up on the rail today as well. True Chesapeake Bay History. 

16 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Wow, that is quite a project and something I have never seen before. Is that a common fix on work boats on the Chesapeake or a design you just created. I hope you had two of #8 made so you can hang one on the wall in the railway and “grunt” when you show it to your buddies. Nice job!

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:


    Nothing I have ever seen before, but that is the genius of an old time boat builder like George!

    Stumbled across this old header yesterday. Thought it would have been a good add to the passion debate the other day.

  3. Rick
    Rick says:

    Grew up with wood boats that had issues but never came across this solution before. Is this just a one off or are there other examples down in your parts?

  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    Grew up around old wood boats with issues but never saw this before. Is this just a WoodyBoater one off or are there other examples down in your parts?

  5. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Not a job for the faint of heart!!! Very nice work and a surgeon doesn’t have a thing on you guys!!!!!

  6. Bilgerat
    Bilgerat says:

    Be interesting to look at the bolts on next haul out to see how they’re doing and if the repair solves the problem.

  7. Chad
    Chad says:

    Seems like adding additional weight and drag on the keel would cause more “sag”. Are the plates on the inside of the hull resting on new wood? Does tightening them lift the keel? How much time does this buy?

  8. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    I’m wondering if it would make sense to put a single streamlined fairing around/over the u-bolts on both sides of the keel to limit the chances of debris hitting and possibly damaging them?

  9. Matt
    Matt says:

    To answer some questions.
    1. This is common practice on the bay. Its that or say so long.
    2. The weight is neglagble. Its a trawler, and one normal person on board would be More than the U bolts
    3. Yes, we talked about it catching stuff. Like Crab pots and so on. Its the risk, but many of the wood work boats have something like this.
    4. Its all part of the learning. Each region does things differently. We also use large stainless nails in the hull.

  10. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    Had a similar problem on a smaller boat built back in 1934. I took out the original bolt and the resulting dry rot, cutting out a section that resembled a key. I replaced this with a single piece of stinkwood cut to match the hole. It could go in from one side only and had the benefit of ‘locking’ the keel. You are right about it being ‘heart in the mouth’ work.
    Can’t seem to get a photo to load..last try

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