Updated at: 08-09-2021 - By: Lucas

A keel is a long wooden or metal structure that is used to keep a boat on the water. If a boat has no keel, then it will simply float on the water until the wind or the current pushes it away from the coast. But, if the boat has a proper keel, then it will be much more stable and will be able to remain at the same location even when there is no current or wind.

In this article, we are going to discuss 9 types of keels that are commonly used on different types of boats.

Full Keel


A full keel is one that has been constructed with a heavy layer of steel directly beneath the waterline. This is done to increase the stability of the boat. A full keel is often times the difference between a great boating experience and a miserable one. It is very important to research the make and model of the boat you are purchasing before you make your purchase. 

A full keel is the strongest and most stable kind of keel that can be used on a boat. It is attached to the bottom of the boat with heavy duty bolts. The full keel acts like a “fifth leg” of the boat, which gives the boat extra stability and strength. A full keel is usually only used on larger boats because it makes the boat more stable.

A full keel is not needed on all types of boats. Some smaller, less stable boats don’t need a full keel. However, a full keel does make a big difference when used on a large, more stable boat. Full keels are also used on some larger commercial fishing boats. Full keels are very strong and are often seen on the most expensive yachts and large commercial fishing vessels.

Fin Keel


A fin keel is a long, slender, pointed object that is attached to the bottom of a boat to improve stability. The fin keel was developed by the ancient Chinese and has been used for thousands of years. It is still in use today. In fact, it is the standard feature on a majority of sportfishing boats.

A fin keel is a design feature on a boat that makes it much more stable. The idea is to give the boat a sort of “third leg” that connects to the hull of the boat. This connection is called the fin keel. It gives the boat better stability in all types of water conditions. It makes the boat less likely to turn over.

A boat with a fin keel is much more comfortable to ride in. You don’t need to worry about getting seasick or being thrown around too much. Fin keels come in various shapes and sizes. They are attached to the hull of the boat in many different ways.

A fin keel adds a lot of stability to a boat, but it also makes the boat very sluggish to turn. This is because the fin keel acts like a giant anchor that keeps the boat rooted to the spot. This is great if you are fishing in open water and want to remain stationary, but it can be a real drawback when you are trying to get out of the harbor or canal.

Bulb Keel


A bulb keel is a design feature on some boats that consists of a long, slender shape at the bottom of the hull. The theory is that this creates a lifting force on the boat when it is moving forward through the water. In reality, this “lifting force” is almost entirely psychological.

The bulb keel acts as a sort of “fins” for the boat. It allows the boat to be more easily propelled through the water. This makes the boat more stable and less likely to turn over. The bulb keel also gives the boat better directional stability. In other words, it allows the boat to remain upright no matter what direction the boat is pointed in.

It has very little effect on the actual hydrodynamics of the boat. It is sometimes used on recreational boats, but mostly it is seen on flats boats and commercial fishing boats. Bulb keels were used by the Chinese thousands of years ago and are still used today by many Asian and some European flat boat builders.

Wing Keel


A wing keel is an aerodynamic appendage on the bottom of the plane that improves stability. Basically, it is a long, skinny stabilizer that is attached to the bottom of the fuselage just behind the main wheels.

On most passenger airliners, there are two sets of stabilizers. The outer pair are called wing stabilizers and they are located on the wings. The inner stabilizers are called “tail stabilizers” and they are attached to the vertical stabilizer which is located just above the main wheel wells.

A wing keel is similar to a tail keel except that it is located on the bottom of the fuselage instead of the vertical stabilizer. This allows the plane to fly with less need for elevator pressure. With less need for elevator pressure, the plane can fly with a lower gross weight. Lower gross weight means lower operating costs.

Centerboard Keel


A centerboard keel is one of the oldest types of boat keels in use today. It is made up of a long, slender, flat piece of wood that is attached to the bottom of the hull just forward of the transom. This piece of wood is called the “centerboard” because it is centered between the two hulls. The idea is that the weight of the boat is shared equally by the two hulls. In this way, the boat will be more stable and less likely to capsize.

A centerboard keel is a design feature that was developed to allow wooden boats to travel over long distances and wide oceans. Basically, it is a central, flat piece of wood that extends below the hull of the boat. This piece of wood is attached to the boat with metal screws or nails. It gives the boat extra stability and helps it to ride over the water smoothly.

The centerboard is a functional design element that has been around for centuries. In fact, the Romans used it to great effect on their ocean-going merchant vessels. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the modern centerboard keel was invented. Nowadays, centerboard keels are very common on sportfishing boats and many other types of pleasure craft. You’ll also see them on some commercial and military cargo ships.

Canting Keel

Canting Keel

A canting keel is a structural design feature found on some types of boats. It was developed to reduce the amount of hull material required to make a boat stiff enough to withstand wave action and other forces of nature. A canting keel is essentially a slant or slope that is built into the bottom of the hull. This reduces the amount of material needed to create a sturdy and rigid structure.

Canting keels are usually attached to the bottom of the hull just below the water line. They can be either fixed or retractable. Fixed canting keels are designed to be always in contact with the seabed. They are very stable and provide maximum protection against capsizing.

Retractable canting keels are usually powered by an hydraulic system. They extend out when needed and retract back into the hull when not needed. This allows the boat to travel over rougher waters without the canting keel interfering with its movement.

A canting keel is a structural design element that has been around for a very long time. Basically, it’s a long, thin beam that runs the length of the boat. It’s usually located just below the waterline and is used to transfer loads from the boat’s deck to the hull.

A canting keel acts like a pair of scissors cutting the water line and allowing the boat to plane out instead of rock. This gives the boat a much smoother ride and reduces drag.

Lifting Keels


Lifting keels are flat, triangular metal strips that are attached to the bottom of a boat’s hull. The lifting keel is designed to give the boat a kind of “lift” or “inertia” that makes it harder for the boat to tip over. Without the lifting keel, a boat with a flat bottom would be extremely unstable.

A lifting keel is very important on any type of boat, but especially on a pleasure craft like a sailboat or power boat. These types of boats can be extremely dangerous to operate if they are not handled properly. 

A careless owner can easily lose control of his boat and have it capsize. This can result in serious injury or death. If you are at all interested in boating, then you need to learn how to safely operate a boat with a lifting keel. It’s an important aspect of safe boating.

The lifting keel acts like a “third leg” for the boat. It keeps the boat from capsizing and makes it easier to walk or wade around in shallow water. A lifting keel is usually about 1-1/2 inches thick and is commonly found on canoes, kayaks and small boats.

Bilge Keel

Bilge Keel

A bilge keel is a structural element that runs along the bottom of a boat. It is typically constructed of metal and is bolted or welded onto the bottom of the boat. The purpose of the bilge keel is to give the boat additional strength and stability.

A bilge keel is a structural feature on the bottom of a boat that runs nearly the entire length of the vessel. It is attached to the hull with heavy straps or chains and is designed to transfer the weight of the boat to the bottom, thus preventing the boat from capsizing. 

Bilge keels are usually made of steel and are an important safety feature on all types of boats. They are typically painted bright orange to make them more visible to the crew.

The bilge keel is one of the strongest structural members of the boat. It is located in the area of the boat where the majority of the weight is concentrated. Therefore, it takes up a lot of space. That’s why you don’t see many large boats with bilge keels. 

The most common size for a bilge keel found on pleasure craft is 12 inches by 36 inches. However, there are some larger ones too, like the 18-inch by 54-inch bilge keel on the Chris-Craft Catalina.

Bilge keels were first used on seagoing vessels to prevent the ship from sinking if it should capsize. However, bilge keels are now used on pleasure boats to prevent the vessel from taking on too much water and thus becoming un-navigable.


What is a keel made of?

A keel is made of a combination of fiberglass and resins. The fiberglass is a strong material that is similar to fiberglass used in the construction of houses. The resins are a hardening material that help to bind the fiberglass together.

What does a keel do?

The keel provides the backbone to the hull of the boat. It is the lowest part of the boat and it is the first part of the boat to touch the water. The keel is strong and acts like a pivot point for the boat. If you were to remove the keel from a boat, the boat would literally fall apart. 

Does my sailboat need a keel?

No, but without one it will be very hard to sail. Sailboats can be found with either a full keel, a partial keel, or no keel at all.

How important is it to keep my keel clean?

If the bottom of your keel is not clean, it can cause rudder problems, create drag, wear down your hull, and cause your boat to handle sluggishly. 


A keel is a very important part of a boat. It is what supports the weight of the boat and keeps it upright. Without a good keel, the boat will be very unstable and will be likely to capsize.

A good keel is an essential component for the safe and successful operation of a boat. So, it is important to know about the different types of keels. This will help you know what kind of keel you should have in your boat.