More ballast, again more ballast…and bronze treasures

Building a sailboat is a constant quest for ballast. The bigger the boat, the bigger the quest. Unfortunately, lead seems to become harder and harder to get. I used to tour the regions scrap yards and buy there lead when some was available. For some reason, metal recyclers wont  sell scrap metal anymore; that complicates things somewhat (or makes it substantially more expensive). Not helping the struggle, lead prices have spiked over the past few years.

We need a minimum total of 20,000lbs of ballast, of which 10,000lbs is integral to the hull. The rest of the ballast is “placed” to allow some trimming and possibly to lighten the boat if needed for land transport. Most of the “trim ballast” could be steel and we were lining up towards that route to solve our issue with lead availability (and cost). We only needed an other 1000lbs of lead to be poured in some custom shaped bins, the rest could be steel.

Keels at Mar Metal Foundry

Last week, we bit the bullet  and made a trip to Mars Metal, in Burlington, to purchase lead at the high price from the foundry. Our thought was just to get it done with the bins and later get the rest of our ballast in steel.
This turned out to be an interesting weekend trip. We were offered a tour of the foundry where most of North America’s sailboat keels are being made  (and most other lead products).

Keels being poured inside the foundry. Melting pot in the back.

Last week, we bit the bullet  and made a trip to Mars Metal, in Burlington, to purchase lead at the high price from the foundry. Our thought was just to get it done with the bins and later get the rest of our ballast in steel.
This turned out to be an interesting weekend trip. We were offered a tour of the foundry where most of North America’s sailboat keels are being made  (and most other lead products).


A beautiful and well built boat but beyond recoverable.  

Bonus! On the way back home, driving through Toronto, I found perfectly fitting work boots!! That is a feat, it is not easy to find wide small size work boots. Some day I’ll write about the challenges of finding fitting safety gear and using tools designed for men.

Back to my lead story. There was a boat, a few roads over from home which we have noticed to be in a deteriorating state and likely beyond recoverable. I have meant for a while to stop by and ask about that boat but procrastination ruled plan. For some reason, I finally decided to stop and find out the story of the old boat.

My bronze treasures. Most should find a place on our boat

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