water in bilge = disaster?? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-17-2006
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water in bilge = disaster??

A guy over in the Bristol Yacht Yahoo Group who calls himself a boat surveyor is saying that if a bilge isn't kept completely dry the hull will eventually delaminate and self-destruct. Is he right, or is he just doing a Chicken Little schtik? There's always at least an inch or two of water in the bilge of my 25-year-old Bristol 29.9; the electric bilge pump can't remove that last smidgeon of H2O because it starts sucking air when the intake hose is exposed.

The boat was surveyed before I bought it, about a month ago. The surveyor (Dereck Rhymes, an associate of Jack Hornor) said I should replace the float switch to restore the auto bilge-pump function but didn't say that residual water in the bilge could ruin the hull and didn't find anything wrong with the hull.
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Old 08-17-2006
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Therefore I suppose, fiberglass water tanks should be kept perfectly empty...

Ignore him, unless there is damage to the glass lay up in the bilge, then fix it and ignore him
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Old 08-17-2006
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I am not a fiberglass expert, but isn't that the same stuff that's on the outside of the hull?? I have a hard time keeping the bottom dry.
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Old 08-17-2006
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The guy is pulling your leg or his uncle owns a fiberglass business...
the only thing I would say is keep your bilge clean from sitting water, oil, fuel etc. etc.

E.
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Old 08-17-2006
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Well, you know, you could probably really keep you boat from delaminating if you keep it out of the water. And can I suggest taking down your mast so you don't get struck by lightning? Have you ever seen what bird poop does to the plastic when it set there for a while? Cover your entire boat with shrink wrap.

So, sir, how are you enjoying your boat now?

That is crazy. I would not let it bother me.

The only time I have ever seen a dry bilge was at a boat show where they were out of the water. Keep some bilge cleaner in there. I always pour some in before I go sailing to let it slosh around for a while. If you are breeding a new species of plants and fungus, it can stop up your pump. Don't know how much water you are getting back in your bilge, but you can put a check valve in to keep any from siphoning back (assuming you do not already have one). Most mfg do this. Do check and see where your water is coming from: rain, shaft-pack, air conditioning, or just plain old condensation?? Always keep an eye on it.

PS My bilge does stay completely dry and will never delaminate. I offer up the liquidy proceeds to dumb surveyors as Friday Night drinks. They never know the difference and I get back a sweet little bit of satisfaction...
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Old 08-17-2006
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Quote:
the only thing I would say is keep your bilge clean from sitting water, oil, fuel etc.
So I should sponge out that residual inch of greasy water that the bilge pump can't remove?
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Old 08-17-2006
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To avoid a stinky bilge do what CRUISINGDAD suggested, pour some bilge clean in and follow the directions written on the bottle
E.
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Old 08-17-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
Don't know how much water you are getting back in your bilge, but you can put a check valve in to keep any from siphoning back (assuming you do not already have one). Most mfg do this. Do check and see where your water is coming from: rain, shaft-pack, air conditioning, or just plain old condensation?? Always keep an eye on it.
Well, it can't be the air conditioner, 'cause I ain't got one. And I've got a dripless shaft bearing.
What, that stuff could siphon into the fresh water tank?? Yuck!
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It would only syphon back into your fresh water tank if you are giving to your surveyor friend...

The hose from your bilge pump goes "uphill". When the pump kicks off, all the water in the hose comes back down. A check valve, one way valve, will only let the water go one-way and stops it. They are usually installed just above the pump.

I will say they like to fail if you are growing plants in your bilge. Keep your bilge clean.
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Old 08-17-2006
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Hi William,

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.

Best wishes,
Jeff
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