• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Keel joint seperation AKA Catalina smile

Sep 29, 2016
Lord Nelson Lord Nelson 35 3 Full time cruiser
upon hauling out about 3 years ago, we found that our keel was separated from the stub by about a 1/4" gap in the front.



It looked like a previous owner had already attempted a repair that had not held up very well (evident by the presence of an unknown sealant). Our repair (outlined in West System's fiberglass repair manual available for free here: https://www.westsystem.com/wp-content/uploads/Fiberglass-Manual-2015.pdf) was as follows; first we ground out the old sealant and created a bevel using a 36 grit zirconia flap disc on an angle grinder.


Then after we checked torque on all the keel bolts (the spec can be found here Index of /wp-content/export/Miscellaneous). After that the joint was filled with Pettit's Flexpoxy, which provides a structural yet semi flexible joint. After curing overnight it was sander fair.


We just hauled out again 3 years later and am happy to report that this repair has held up flawlessly.


Mar 23, 2017
Belliure 41 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain

Nice to hear and get the report back!



Jan 22, 2008
Hunter 37-cutter Richmond CA
Ditto, thanks for the feedback and pleased to hear the repair worked
Sep 30, 2016
Hunter 23.5 Patoka Lake, IN
Nice work. When you retorqued the keel bolts, were they loose? Did that gap close up? Just curious.
Sep 29, 2016
Lord Nelson Lord Nelson 35 3 Full time cruiser
Nice work. When you retorqued the keel bolts, were they loose? Did that gap close up? Just curious.
none of them were loose at all and it seemed to have no effect on the gap. This was very comforting.
Jun 5, 2010
Hunter 25 Burlington NJ
This 'smile' is very common with cheaper production boats having fin keels. I have it too on my H25.

I had to reset the whole hull/keel joint as the PO had attempted to do it and used wood-boat caulk (I expect he stepped into the boat-supplies place and said, 'I need *CAULK*', 'cause that's what he got) so the whole thing was leaking and, voila! - nearly-free boat. I used 2-1/2 tubes of 5200 (even cut open the tubes and scooped out the 1/3 that you don't get from using a caulking-cartridge gun). Afterwards I made the mistake of using rigid fairing compound (epoxy-based). This looked beautiful at first (see pic) but proceeded to crack again and again.

The best solution is a flexible seal of 5200. Grind out this crack to like a 1/4"-3/8" groove, clean with acetone, and trowel in 5200. Then paint over it. That's it. This is industry-wide practice and, I assure you, any further contemplation about it is pointless. You will never get a perfectly-smooth transition here unless you're willing to remove and redo it every season, such as on a racing boat. The physical parameters of the inherent stresses on the hull-keel structure are against you .


Sep 18, 2020
Hunter 27 Port Jefferson
I have the same issue and after lots of homework bought G/Flex for West Systems. have not done it yet but will post the process and results after it is done. I have Hunter 27. They said that the g/flex will stay flexible.