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Milkjug 02-02-2014 04:43 PM

How much water is normal?
My boat takes on ~4 gallons of water between the bilge and engine compartment. It takes about two months to accumulate this much, at which point I slop it all out. This is my first boat and I'm trying to understand how normal this is. After removing the majority of the water, I've looked for minor leaks but can't find anything. Is it typical to always have a small amount of water in the hull?

If it helps, this is a 1978 33 foot Peterson. Overall very hardy, I'd just like to keep water out of the boat.


bigdogandy 02-02-2014 04:51 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
That seems like a lot to me......I would check for leaks in the items below the waterline first - seacocks and the drive shaft - to make sure there isn't a leak that could sink you. After that it's looking for leaks in the deck.

I had a leak around the manual bilge pump cover on my boat that took me forever to find, but it was letting in a lot of water when it rained hard.

Good luck!

Donna_F 02-02-2014 04:51 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
Not all boats have dry bilges. We don't have a dry bilge. Our icebox drains into it as does the small amount of water from the shaft packing.

Have you checked the packing to make sure the drip is not more than recommended? If it drains into the bilge to begin with of course.

mitchbrown 02-02-2014 04:52 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
I could be rain water leaking through a deck fitting or hatch. but my bet would be a leak from the top of a water tank which leaks some water when you fill the tank completely full. have you done the taste test to determine if its salt water or fresh.

Or how about the shaft packing??

christian.hess 02-02-2014 04:52 PM

Re: How much water is normal?

do you have an inboard, do you have a shaft? what is the drip rate if you dont have a dripless shaft system?

do you have portlights? do they leak? do you have deck hardware? do they leak? do you have toerails? do they leak? do you have a deck stepped mast or keel stepped mast? does it leak?

the amount of potential leaks on a boat is endless!!!!!!

4 galons in that amount of time is not dangerous in my opinion but if its not raining every day it could be

where are you?

whats the weather like? dry or rainy season?

not to be mean but your question lacks a lot of details that can determine whether or not its a critical amount

good luck finding where the water is coming from

Milkjug 02-02-2014 04:53 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
That makes sense. I've watched the propeller shaft and motor while in gear and didn't notice leakage. It very well could be a drain from the cockpit that has a crack in it. I'll take a look, thanks!

As an aside, we have a similar issue on the mast. When it rains hard, water runs down the channel of the mast and into the cabin. I'd love to figure out how to prevent that.

christian.hess 02-02-2014 04:55 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
welcome to sailboat maintenance! jajaja at least you know one source now find the rest...ooooh the fun of it all!

boatpoker 02-02-2014 05:05 PM

Re: How much water is normal?

Originally Posted by Milkjug (Post 1371793)
That makes sense. I've watched the propeller shaft and motor while in gear and didn't notice leakage.

If you have a conventional stuffing box, you're supposed to have "leakage".
About 8 drips per minute underway and nothing at rest. If you are not dripping you may be scoring your shaft.

capttb 02-02-2014 05:19 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
Any automatic bilge pumps involved here ? Are you removing the water with a manual bilge pump ?

sugarbird 02-02-2014 05:45 PM

Re: How much water is normal?
Okay, I'll bite. IMHO there is no such thing as a "normal" amount of water in the bilge! Of course less is better than more, but seriously, it depends a great deal on where the water is coming from...a leaking below-the-waterline hose/thru hull connection is a ticking time bomb, while dribbles down the mast in a tropical monsoon season is a minor inconvenience.

If you're lying in salt water, one (psychologically somewhat unpleasant) thing you can do to quickly narrow the possibilities is to dip your finger in the bilge when it's full and taste it - salty means from below, fresh means from spit!

As already pointed out, the possible sources of water ingress are many - leaking keel bolts, corroded water tanks/fittings (does water level remain the same in water tanks when not being used?), bad hose clamps, leaking engine hoses, faulty scuppers, prop shaft, portlights, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The pisser with some deck/topside leaks is that they start out in one place, but the water may run a good distance behind paneling & furniture before it gets to where you find the water dripping into the interior of the boat. And, don't be too surprised if it turns out there's actually more than one source. Put on your Deerstalker cap, have a buddy turn a hose on and wash the boat down while you poke around with a flashlight, and begin the detective work Sherlock!

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