With normal use, the “pointy” end of your boat is the location on the outside of the hull most likely to be subject to normal wear and tear as well as abnormal distress. Until I found a healthy chip in the gelcoat of my boat close to the water line, right at the bow, I hadn’t given this much thought. I have no idea of whether the ding was caused by running into one object one single time while running at speed or hitting dozens, maybe hundreds of miscellaneous chunks of flotsam or jetsam.

Regardless, I fixed it, but the repair left me wondering how long it would be until I’d need to fix it again. I found the answer at the ICAST show a week or so later at the Gator Guards’ booth. Never!

Among the Gator Guard products on display was KeelShield. KeelShield is a six-inch wide, roughly quarter-inch thick, incredibly tough, flexible polymer strip which bonds to the boat’s pointy-end to protect it from impact with floating items – as well as docks, boat trailers, concrete ramps or rocky shorelines.

KeelShield will adhere to aluminum boats from most manufacturers and all fiberglass hulls. Following the detailed instructions, I was able to install a KeelShield on my boat in about an hour. Surface prep is simply cleaning the area with a scrubby pad (included) with isopropyl alcohol (not included). Once the keel is ready, just follow the steps to carefully remove a thin backing to expose the 3-M bonding surface as the KeelShield is pressed in place. If you can stick packing tape on a box, you can stick a KeelShield on your boat.

The product is exceedingly tough and if you manage to wear it out (doubtful), it comes with a lifetime warrantee. I chose a navy blue color that matches the accent stripes already on the hull of my boat. KeelShields come in nine colors to mix or match, and various lengths depending on the size and slope of your boat’s bow. Get KeelShields online at or It’s also sold at marine retailers and big-box outdoor outlets.

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