Bilge Keels


We are currently restoring an OT Guide canoe for a boys camp that was originally ordered with bilge keels. Proper restoration would suggest that we install new bilge keels, however, not being familiar with their necessity we wonder if they encourage use of the canoe that does not teach the best care and feeding of wood/canvas canoes.
Installation will create more holes in the canvas and the potential for more leakage should the bilge keels contact a rock or stump. And it would seem sensible that they would affect the handling of the canoe.
What is the WCHA experience and wisdom?

Linda & Dan
A keel on a wooden canoe is really a personal decision. Many members of this forum find them more trouble than they are worth so keels are frequently removed during restorations. A keel will make a canoe track somewhat better, strengthen the hull, and provide some additional protection to the canvas. These are all desirable features in a boys camp environment. The presence or absence of bilge keels will probably not have a dramatic effect on the quality of a camp's teaching or care of a wood/canvas canoe. I have managed, observed, and participated in wooden canoeing programs at a number of camps. My vote is that you put all three keels back on.

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Thank you Benson,
The sharing of experience and knowledge of WCHA members agains shows the importance of the site and the good fellowship among canoe enthusiasts!

Linda & Dan