Re-taping keel band


First of all a thank you for this invaluable site, very useful info found so far.

I've just picked up the family Mirror #14494 Poppy, to take her down to Whitstable. She's been in a barn for years, so is in fairly good condition. The only real worry I have is some cracking and lifting of the tape around the centreboard slot on the underside, plus a small puncture/dent in the forward part of the hull.


We last painted and varnished her around 2003, took her to Brittany where someone managed to snap the centreboard when coming into the beach. We got some ply and carried on the holiday, but I suspect the impact combined with her advanced age didn't help. I don't know for sure that she'll leak, but given that I can see bare wood through the crack, I don't want to just drop her in to see or let water deeper into the wooden joints.

I don't have any experience with taping/epoxy, so my question is should I:
a) patch/fill the cracks/dent with something to stop water ingress and hope nothing gets in over this summer's sailing, before doing a better job over winter?
b) strip the keel band and tape right off and re-tape, repaint the area properly?

If a) what product would be best?
If b) is that the correct procedure (band off, clean surfaces, new tape, band back on, paint)?

I imagine the dent would be need to be filled in either case.
The rest of the seams appear to be sound, and I do want to sand her down quite thoroughly at some point in the future. Just need to find some suitable workshop space.

Any advice gratefully received.

PuffinInTegel's picture

Hi and welcome to the Forum!
I find the pictures look pretty grim, but if you want to sail this season, you may just get by with cleaning around the damaged areas and retaping them.
The cb-case / hull joint is under strain at all times and if you row, a lot of your weight is transmitted to this because the thwart is just a very thin bit (because of the centreboard slot) which loosens the joint over time and allows rot to set in. I ended up putting a kind of "keelson" in my boat and reinforcing the thwart with a vertical rib under it. Something like that is really an "out of season" job if you have a dry and preferably heated space to work in. I had to do mine at the beginning of the season*.
Wishing you success, whichever way you go!
Gernot H.
See pages 3 to 6 of .

curlew's picture

I usually find it is best to bite the bullet, get the boat upside down, be brutal ripping off/raking out damaged stuff, then it is very easy with West System epoxy and tape. I always add filler powder to the resin as it gives enormous strength. For pure filling jobs, add loads of filler so it is as stiff as butter.
I have found that temporary jobs are no quicker.
If you find a bit of rot, then I recommend soaking with blue antifreeze for 24 hours, then dry with heat gun.

Thanks Gernot and David for the tips.

I'm certainly hoping to get brutal on the hull and clear back previous coats of paint, just not right now. I am reading up a lot on epoxy methods and fillers. I think I'll be able to make a reasonable fix to get her watertight and last the summer.

When I do undertake a full strip-back and re-tape the keel band fully, is it worth stripping the other hull tapes if they're looking ok at the moment? Any harm done by replacing them with fresh tape and epoxy, or best left well alone?


curlew's picture

If the original tape is polyester then it is supposed to have a finite life and begins to come off. But where it is firm I leave alone. The old tape comes off with a hot air gun quite easily. Polyester and epoxy do not stick together I believe. I have renewed tapes in a few places where they began to fail.
By the way, sailed Portsmouth - Bembridge Isle of Wight (overnight in marina) - Chichester Harbour at the weekend in my Mirror. Loaded with camping stuff, dry bags on the foredeck even!