The boat seems to be leaking water through the "tiller hole"... - SailNet Community

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Old 05-26-2008
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The boat seems to be leaking water through the "tiller hole"...

First off, the boat is a 1972 Bristol 26, swing keel version

So on the way down the Hudson River from Kingston Sunday, we noticed that there was water leaking into the cockpit from the point where the "tiller base" (the part of the tiller assembly that is screwed to the floor of the cockpit) and the "spindle" (what I assume is a rod of some sort that is connected to the rudder).

We got the boat this spring (see "long island sound to hudson river cruise" thread) and are sure there has never been water leaking in before. We had a bungee cord wrapped around the tiller to keep the boat pointed in a steady direction, our "auto tiller"....and after we took the bungee off, the water stopped leaking a little while later. In total, there was about a half liter of water into the cockpit over the course of an hour or so.

I did some investigative work, and there is a "tube" (what looks like a fiberglass pipe that looks like it is molded into the bottom of the hull) that goes from the cockpit straight down through the bottom of the boat. This is where my "rudder spindle" goes through. There was no water leaking in this area at fact, it was dusty. Only several drops of water that I could tell were leaking in from above through the cockpit floor, where the "rudder spindle passes".

My conclusion:

moderate to heavy pressure downward on the tiller puts pressure onto whatever gasket is inside the "tiller tube".

whatever gasket is in there is probably pretty old and should be replaced at the next convenience

My questions:

Worry about it now, or don't worry about it until this fall when we take the boat out....or if it gets worse before then, deal with it then

Can I deal with such a thing while the boat is in the water? I could see why totally disconnecting the assembly would probably mean my rudder would fall to the bottom.

It looks like my cockpit floor is above the waterline....maybe thats a given.

whaddya think, paranoid...or "another something to add to the list"

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Old 05-26-2008
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I would be worried about why the downward pressure is affecting the seal so drastically. Is the rudder post moving signficantly? Does the rudder post have significant amount of play in it?? Are the bearings shot?

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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Old 05-26-2008
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If the sole of your cockpit is above the waterline then water should not come up through the rudder post tube. I would check and make sure that when the cockpit is full of people, the floor of the cockpit is above the water line. This assumes that the rudder post tube is at least as high as the floor of the cockpit.
I had a loose and wobbly rudder post/tube on one of my boats and I was told the quick fix is to make shims out of the sides of plastic milk bottles and slide them in until the tube can be rebuilt. It worked a charm!
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217
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