to Keel or not to Keel


WCHA 7403
I'm planning my first restoration project on a 1939 OT HW that has a sailing rig.
The canoe was manufactured by OT with a keel.
Looking ahead to the day when the canvassing, filling, painting is finally done, I imagine it will be hard to then drill holes through the bottom to attach the keel.
Do all HT's have a keel?
Anybody have any experience with the HT and no keel?
Is it more important when sailing?
any recommendations?
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 which can be a desirable feature in a sailing canoe. Most of the Old Town HW models shipped with keels but some were made without them.

You can always leave it off initially and see how you like it. It would not be too much trouble to put it back on later if you change your mind.

keel or no Keel

Good day Sturt. I think that what Benson just wrote, makes a lot of sense. I would go with his suggestion. Have pleasure with your project. Best regards, Sandpiper
If you are going to sail a lot -- put the keel on, it will help you track better and you'll use less rudder to go straight. If you need to make a quick turn -- ie "come about" -- you can just heel the boat over a bit to get the keel out of the stream.

If you are going to do a lot of lake canoeing -- put the keel on, it will track better and you'll use fewer steering strokes.

If you want the canoe to look right -- put the keel on. Or else you'll have to figure out what to do with all those holes in the ribs along the centerline...

If you are going to rig a sail on the canoe -- put the keel on. The mast step will not be too secure if you just anchor it to the ribs. Screws though the step into the keel will ensure that it has the strength you need. (Having a mast step "blow out" will ruin your day -- BTDT.)