Water in the Bilge/Keel okay? - SailNet Community

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Old 09-18-2007
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Water in the Bilge/Keel okay?

We are still trying to figure out the details of our Endeavour 33.

When I look under the floorboard in the main salon (in front of ther mast), there appears to be a deep area under there. I imagine I am looking into some of the keel area(?). (I remember once hearing a service person tell me it had a "shallow bilge".)

Anyhow, there is considerable water down in there. To get a better look I need to unscrew some floor boarding. I have been intending to do this anyhow as I know there is an automatic bilge pump but I have not actually seen it.

Is this water normal? (I tend to get concerned anytime I see water in a boat...)

Should I go buy a hand pump and pump it out? (I do use the manual bilge pump routinely in the cockpit, but I don't think it services the area I am talking about.)

Looking for some clues- any advice appreciated. Thanks, SaltyPat
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Dear saltypat....

Water normally goes outside, around the boat, preferably bellow some lines that are painted along the hull....if water was to be inside the boat, it would not be called a boat, but a glass or bucket or even a bowl..

Yes, remove the water...NOT GOOD
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Pat.....
hmmmm. Try the manual bilge pump in the cockpit before you go buying one. Also, do you not know if the main pump works? If it doesn't I highly recommend to fix that. Is the water in only one section of the bilge and not others? Do you not have access to most sections of the bilge? It isn't usual that you would have to pull up the sole boards to access the bilge.

To answer the initial question though, yes get the water out.
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It is quite common for deep well bilges to have some water in them (maybe 1/2 an inch or so) that cannot be removed by the bilge pump or reached easily by hand. While no water is best...it is unavoidable in some cases and you just need to make sure during survey that it has not caused any underlying problems.
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Water only in one section

Yes, the electric bilge pump works. We were out overnight (only for the second time) this weekend, and we heard the automatic bilge pump run a few times (I thought probably ice melting and draining out of the icebox), but not repeatedly and periodically as if there was a major leak...

And the bilge under the cockpit only has a very small amount under the stuffing box area.

I only see water in the one main well area, none in the bilge under the cockpit or close to the companionway....
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Old 09-18-2007
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If there is an appreciable difference between the temperature of the air and the temperature of your boat's hull, then condensation will form and run into the bilge.

It's a good idea to keep the inside of your boat as dry as you can. I'd suggest spending a few hours and getting all the water out everywhere. Then watch to see how quickly it fills up again. Also look at it after a rainfall. If you have any leaks in your deck or cabin, there will be more water in the bilge than usual.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saltypat View Post
I only see water in the one main well area, none in the bilge under the cockpit or close to the companionway....
OK, this isn't that bad then.
When a boat is made and they section all the little compartments off, they drill holes to allow every compartment to ultimately drain into the bilge. Those holes are called limber holes. So if only one section is holding water, you may have a plugged limber hole. You should pump, bucket, or sponge all of the water out of that one compartment and really clean it out, find the little limber holes and clean them out too. Everything should be allowed to drain to the bilge.
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Some water may be the result of the back flow from the bilge pump shutting off. For every bilge pump, there is a small volume of water that fills the hose up to the highest point that washes back down into the bilge when the pump shuts off. This is why I recommend having the bilge pumps setup with a relatively small "maintenance" pump as the first to trigger, so that the amount of back flow is minimized.

Yes, by all means, get the water out of there, and then do keep an eye on how quickly it re-accumulates as well as what circumstances make it fill faster. Does running the engine increase it—which is fairly normal, as the packing gland will drip a bit more when the propshaft is turning. Does heavy rain increase it—which means you've got a leak through the deck to find. Etc.
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Thanks for the limber hole idea

Thanks for the advice- I will get on it and clean it out, etc.

I'll also monitor its state more closely.

Thanks again to all for the advice- SaltyPat
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Old 09-18-2007
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It's possible to get every drop out with a wet/dry vacuum. You will be able to tell how much you removed and see it come back if there is a leak, and see how quickly it is coming back.

As for where the water is coming from, it could be from above the water line like a window leak, mast boot leak, stantion or other deck mounted hardware leak.

Below the water line could be from a thru hull, propeller shaft packing, rudder shaft leaking, keel bolts leaking or maybe even a hairline crack in the hull.

Water tanks and related plumbing can also leak.

The first step is to get the water out of the bildge.

Next: sit back and have a cup of coffee, wait about 15 minutes and see if any water comes in. If no water comes:

Next, start the engine and just let the propeller shaft turn and check to see if any water comes in, a couple of drips a minute is normal, for lubrication of the seal, any more and you'll need to tighten the packing nut or repack it.

Next, see if you can see the rudder shaft packing nut and check it for wetness, it might not leak until the hull is going up and down from going over waves. If it leaks, same deal as the propeller shaft, tighten or repack.

Next, fill your water tanks to capacity and wait and see if any water accumulates in the bildge. If so, you'll need to inspect the tanks.

Next, pressurize the water system and see if any water accumulates.

Next, check for leaks above the water line. You can wait until it rains or, you can use a hose. The nice thing about a hose is you can start low and at the stern and work your way forward and up. This way, it will be a little easier to locate exactly were the water is coming in. The most mysterious leak I ever chased was on a Catalina 25 I had. She kept puddling water in the section of floor between the head and the V berth. I looked for this leak all season one year. One evening the forecast was for rain. I sat and watched for the water to accumulate. With a very bright flashlight, I first determined whether the water was coming from port or starboard. Once it was ditermined to be coming from starboard, I followed the 1/16" wide trickle up the side to a piece of teak trim. I removed the trim and found a small hole that had been drilled by the factory for the rub rail but it was miss drilled so there was no fastener in it. When it rained, water ran behind the rub rail, thru the hull via the drilled hole, down the side of the cabin and finally, in the floor. The point is, you WILL find it, it's just a matter of how much effort. Best of luck!!!
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Last edited by greybeard54; 09-18-2007 at 09:10 PM.
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