What is a Keel?

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What is a Keel?
A keel is like a blade extension placed at the bottom of water vessels and boats, whether they are machine-powered or wind-powered. Its main purpose is to prevent leeway or side-drifting of the boat as it moves forward on water. With the keel in place, the forces that act on the boat making it move to one side and the other will be converted as some form of “forward” force. In this way, the boat can easily be steered forward on the water regardless of the wind direction and/or force. Keels are also set in place usually at the boat’s hulls to serve another purpose which is to keep the ballast intact. The boat’s ballast is responsible for keeping the boat’s correct orientation which is upright.

Traditional keels are somewhat built-in the hulls of boats and they are usually set up with the same material as the boat or hull itself. It could be wood, fiberglass, or aluminum. But keels that are setup this way are said to cause more drag to the boat which makes it slower. Modern keels are made to look like “fins” at the bottom of the boat. Fin-type keels are said to better redirect leeway or sideway-drifting forces on the boat. These types of keels also cause less drag on the boat making it move faster on the water.

Some keels are also built in such a way that their position can be changed especially if the water vessel needs to be moved out of the water. There are also some keels designed to be able to change angles while the boat is running on water. The angle changes helps improve boat steering and speed especially with varying forces of the wind. Some small boats also have keels that can be retracted from down below. All these keel-repositioning methods are done from within the particular water vessel.

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