Boaters in the southeastern United States, including Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, have the opportunity to access the beach, areas of obstructions, including trees for excellent fishing, and other locations where the vessel comes in contact with hard objects. Keel guards are essential when boating in these types of areas. Here are 6 things you need to know about a boat keel guard. 

What Does A Keel Guard Do

The vessel’s hull is crucial to remain intact, preventing the watercraft from sinking due to a puncture. 

A keel is positioned at the center and bottom of the boat and runs along the hull from bow to stern. As you can imagine, when the vessel comes in contact with objects beneath the surface, this is the most likely place it will make contact because of the depth in which it lies. 

Remember, it is not uncommon to drive boats onto the beach for a day of fun in the sun, thus causing scratches or more significant damage to the hull. 

The purpose of the keel guard is to protect the centerline of the vessel when beaching or boating in areas with hard objects beneath the surface. The boat is more prone to damage without adding the rubber strip to the keel. 

What Size Keel Guard Do I Need

When it comes to sizing, the guard is not required to run from bow to stern. The back half of the hull is less likely to come in contact with objects when compared to the bow. 

To determine the length of the strip applied to the hull, first know the size of the vessel. Generally speaking, the keel guard measures approximately 10 feet shorter than the overall length of the watercraft. 

Remember, the rubberized strip does not run entirely down the keel from bow to stern beneath the waterline. Instead, the guard is applied a foot below the bow eye and ends in the central portion of the keel beneath the water. 

The rubber strip must continue above the waterline as the boat’s bow is most likely to come into contact with objects when moving forward. 

Do Keel Guards Effect Performance

The rubberized guard along the vessel’s keel or personal watercraft does not affect performance when it comes to maneuverability and speed.

Considering the protective device does not inhibit performance, it is wise to add the keel guard as a measure of safety. 

How Do You Put On A Keel Guard

The rubberized protective layer is easy to install and can be done so while the vessel is on a trailer or dry rack.


The forward portion of the rubberized keel application must be installed above the waterline. Mark the waterline, measure and mark a line eight inches above that point. 


When the boat is dry, roll out the guard and trace from the mark at the bow until it ends towards the center portion of the hull. 

Clean the area where the guard will attach to the hull with isopropyl alcohol. Once the area is cleaned, gently sand the hull with fine-grit sandpaper. Lastly, wipe away the dust. 


Peel back a two-foot section of the backing covering the adhesive. Align the keel guard and apply it to the hull, pealing the covering back along the way. Once the guard is applied, use a paint roller to remove air pockets by rolling from the centerline outwards. You’re ready to go boating. 

How Do You Remove A Keel Guard

Removing the guard from the keel presents a challenge due to the strength of the adhesive. One of the most effective methods is applying heat via a heat gun. The heat from the gun softens the glue allowing the guard to be pulled free. 

A second method is utilizing brute force. Pull a corner of the guard free, before squeezing tightly with pliers. Continue to pull until the rubber guard has come free. Adhesive will remain and must be scraped away with a plastic not a metal putty knife. 

How Do You Reattach A Keel Guard

Over time, the adhesive begins to wear which allows the rubber guard to pull free during operation. The best method for reattaching a keel guard is by applying Sikaflex 291 Fast Cure Marine adhesive. 

Apply the adhesive to the sticky side of the guard, press firmly against the hull, wipe away excess, and remove all air pockets with a paint roller. 

Now You Know The 6 Most Important Elements To A Keel Guard

Avoid damage to the keel of the boat by installing a keel guard. The guard provides a layer of protection and the installation process is straightforward. Boaters in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina utilize the rubber keel protector in both salt and freshwater applications.