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Old 07-07-2006
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Bilge water

I am considering the purchase of an 86 Catalina 27. Everything looks great except there seems to be constant standing water in the bilge. It has a pump, but does not start until the water reaches a certain level. My concern is (1) could the water be coming from a leak around the keel? or if not,(2) will the standing water damage the keel bolts located in the bilge?

I am a novice sailor. I'm trading in my Catalina 22 and this is all new to me. Any help is appreciated.

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Old 07-08-2006
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Since you are new to boats with internal engines, the first place I would check is where the prop shaft goes through the hull...there is a tube and tightening nut there called the packing gland which needs to be tichtened occasionally to keep the seawater from dripping in too fast. You actually WANT some water coming in through there to keep the shaft cool and lubricated when running. Drip rate should be one to two drops of water per minute...more than that and your shaft nut needs tightening. If tightening does not reduce the drips then you probably need new packing material in the tube which you should do at haulout. Small amounts of standing water in the bilge are normal and generally bilge pumps can't get the last 1/2 inch or so out. If the water isn't coming from the packing gland, then taste it to see if it is fresh or salty...salty means an underwater leak and needs to be attended to quickly. Fresh means a deck or joint or water tank/hose leak that may be pesky but not life threatening.
Good article on packing gland/stuffing box right here:
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