There are many reasons a sailor may want to change the keel configuration on their sailboat or prospective sailboat. If they are moving to a more shallow location than their boat’s draft allows, or if they find a sailboat listed for sale with all the perfect options and price for them, and just need a different keel, they may be wondering what their options are.
Does it make sense to buy a sailboat and change the keel to a different draft?
Just how big of a job is swapping keels?
The first question is whether you can get your hands on the keel you want. We’ll use Group Beneteau, the world’s largest boatbuilder, as an easy example. The economies of scale with a high-production conglomerate give dealers and end-customers a lot of availability for options and spare parts. Nonetheless, the lead time for ordering a keel can be extensive, and uncertain.
Some more recent sailboat models may have keels available from Beneteau, while some will be out of their production cycle. Identifying whether your keel is available or placing an order for one would most easily be found through your regional dealer.
The price of the keel depends greatly on the model and is usually not cost-effective. If your sailboat model is still in production, you may still be able to place an order for your keel, but expect that you will need to place the order well in advance with limited information about shipping dates. This could possibly render your boat unusable for your shallow area for a significant amount of time.
What does it cost to ship and install a keel?
If you do find a keel, it may be across the country or overseas. Needless to say, a massive hunk of metal weighing thousands of pounds doesn’t exactly ship through the pony express.
The shipping and handling of keels is quite expensive overall, as can be the cost of the keel itself and its installation. Our clients have found success in the past working with Deep Water Transport.
The ease of the new keel fitting into the existing structure is an important variable as well. If the hole patterns are different it is a major job to make the new keel fit. As a result, the labor man-hours on a keel changing like this are not easily predicted.
Typically, our clients have found it made more sense for them to find the right boat with the right keel. Especially when deciding between a late-model boat or new boat, options like keel depths or cabin layouts give new boat buyers ultimate control of the boat they buy and ensure all parts have been installed properly from the beginning.
Some buyers are opting for complete control of their draft with centerboards or lifting keels, such as this hydraulic lifting keel on the new BENETEAU Oceanis 34.1.
Murray Yacht Sales is the exclusive Gulf Coast Dealer for Beneteau Sailboats and Excess Catamarans, and also represents J Boats in the central Gulf Coast.
Our full-service brokerage Team has worked since 1974 to connect our clients with their ideal boat, and are proud to have earned a sterling reputation within the industry.
FAQ’s To Recap
The first question is whether you can get your hands on the keel you want. Pulling a keel away from your model’s production line may not be easy, and will likely require some advance ordering.
The shipping and handling of keels is quite expensive overall, as can be the cost of the keel itself and its installation. The price of the keel depends greatly on the model and is usually not cost-effective.