Now this is a job I have dreaded. My experience with keels has not been good and I have invariably ended up with a curve in the keel. Part of the problem is that in my earlier boats the rocker of the bottom of the boat has meant that I have had to cut a curve into the keel with the sabre saw and that has not been a happy experience. Fortunately with the Medway Skiff the bottom of the boat (except where it curves up at the bow and stern) is completely flat. Or at least is drawn to be completely flat – in my boat there is an imperfection (one of many) so that I had to slip in a couple of fillets (tongue depressors) to ensure a flat run of keel. Another problem in the past is that I have been using pine or spruce and I have had to have quite beefy pieces to reduce flex.
This time I purchased some 1X2 oak and sawed it into to 1X1 pieces (actually 20mm) for both the keel and side runners. Lovely to work with in spite of its hardness. I drilled guide holes on the centreline of the boat and used these to mark to oak starter holes. Then, crawling under the boat I was able to screw on the keel and runners. Another triumph for the saw horses because without them I would have had a devil of a time getting the fastening completed. A side benefit is that the runners will provide a lot of strengthening on the floor of the boat. In some of the earlier efforts I was worried that the 1/4 inch (6mm) ply would not be enough and put in additional floor plates. For some of the same reasons I used 3/8 inch (9mm) ply in the Greenshank dinghy last year.
Using an epoxy filleting mix I have sealed the keel and runners in place. When this sets I will be sanding everything smooth and adding short pieces of fibreglass tape at the bevels and end joins on the wood to eliminate cracking if rocks are struck while underway. So, tomorrow more sanding and fairing and sanding and fairing. And if that goes O.K. I get to turn the boat back over and start finishing the interior, making the seat, sealing the buoyancy chambers and then a little more sanding and fairing.