Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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This is a yes and no question.....Technically the guy advocating dry bilges is right. The gelcoat on the outer layer of the fiberglass is supposed to be a lot more impervious than the exposed glass on the interior of the boat. This is especially true of boats built before the mid to late 1980's when quality builders became more aware of the problem and began doing a last wetting out coat of resin instead of counting on paint. In the updated Amoco study of blistering they cited water in the bilge as a source for one of the most severe forms of blistering and since Bristol was one of the last companies to switch resins, I can see why someone on the Bristol Owners group may be concerned.
By the same token, almost all boats with internal halyards and keel stepped masts have water in their bilge and so there's not much that they can do about it.
On the other hand, you have a deck stepped mast (if I remember correctly) and so you should have dry bilges. You probably should try to figure out where the water coming in from. Dripless shaft logs can leak, and do leak if they are run without oil or near the end of their lifespan. Deck leaks can do damage to the deck core and and interior furnishings. (one problem with that particlar modelis that the liners make it hard to find deck leaks.) Rudder post leaks are easily fixed as long as the leak is not caused by a problem with the shaft log itself. Leaks around through-hulls can rot out backing blocks, and spell a seacock in need of maintenance. Keel joint leaks should be addressed promptly as this is hard on the keel bolts (crevice corrosion likes the presence of saltwater, which is another reason to keep your bilge dry).
Anyway, all that said, most of us live with wet bilges some of the time, and some of us live with wet bilges most of the time, but none of us live with dry bilges all of the time. Welcome to the wonderful world of owning boats.
Give me a call if you want me to help you look for where the water is getting in.