Frozen Bilge Water -- Issue? - SailNet Community

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Old 02-09-2009
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Frozen Bilge Water -- Issue?

All:

I'm seeking some comfort that the frozen bilge water I have is a non-isssue. My boat is laid up on the hard in the midwest and must have attracted some water (perhaps through the halyard lines or maybe just plain condensation) that has pooled in the bottom of the bilge. Right now the electric bilge pump is frozen up to its midpoint (hopefully there is no damage when it thaws). Boat is a Catalina 309. When its in the water, I have steadily taken a slight about of water to the bilge, which I assumed was through condensation (boat has AC), however, now I am thinking I might have a leak somewhere.

Any thoughts / advice?
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Old 02-09-2009
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You have mentioned two issues. The first is the ice in the bilge. As long as you don't try to run your bilge pump before it has completely thawed out and all the ice has melted it will most likely be just fine.

The other issue is where did the water come from? Because you are on the hard its a pretty safe bet the water came from somewhere above the waterline. Without knowing how your boat is covered for the winter it anyone's guess. When you get your next thaw some water intrusion "CSI" could be in order. Take a trip to your boat, see where the damp spots are and apply some "sleuthing".

Oh yeah, make sure the bilge pump is not connected to power. It could eat the impeller if it tries to start.

The good news is it won't sink
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Old 02-09-2009
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Is the boat covered? If so begin with every entry point on the mast, water is going to run/drain down every wire entering the mast. If no cover i'd assume every port a possible point of water incursion.

you could even be getting condensation depending on the air temp fluctuations you've been experiencing. But Dec/Jan/Feb is not the time of year for condensation.
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Old 02-09-2009
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It is covered with a canvass cover. Mast might very well be the culprit, but it is deck stepped. Would water be leaking down the compression post?

Batteries disconnected so no concern with the electric pump running. Tried the manual bilge pump as it is starting to thaw, but I think the hose is still frozen in the bilge.
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Old 02-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddata View Post
...Batteries disconnected so no concern with the electric pump running. Tried the manual bilge pump as it is starting to thaw, but I think the hose is still frozen in the bilge.
I would advise against trying to operate any of the bilge pumps, electric or manual. Hopefully you put some pink anti-freeze in the bilge when you laid-up the boat for the winter, and pumped it out through both bilge pumps.

This will protect them from damage -- but not if you actuate them and replace the antifreeze with fresh water.
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Old 02-09-2009
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you might want to try to get a small heater in it, if you can get power. if not how about a few oil lamps, light em and let them run out of oil. another option is to get a mr heater and run that till out of propane. now it would dump lots of water vapor but what you could do is close the boat, with the heater running, come back a few hours latter pump out the water then open the boat up to get the humidity out. if you have a honda genny or borrow one you could run that to run the heater till out of fuel, then pump.
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Old 02-09-2009
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If your mast is deck stepped that shouldn't be the leak. But if the boat is covered well enough to keep the deck dry, you may have to blame the deck step. Either way - you need to locate the leak to at least know what you're dealing with..

If you see and feel no visual evidence of the source of the leak, I suggest you start at the end and work your way back. Be creative. You could snap some chalk lines near the top of your bilge to see where the water is entering the bilge, then work your way "up" to the source.
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Old 02-09-2009
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Elixir of time is a great medicine here. Unless there is so much ice in the boat it is in danger of falling over there is no rush. Let the boat thaw. Don't try to pump. Don't try to chip the ice. If its really getting to you, as ScottyT suggests you can bring a heater to the boat to speed things along.
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Old 02-09-2009
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Even with a deck stepped mast the mast post may leak depending on design and what is above. On my old Beneteau, there were wire connectors above mast compression post and also it's own bolts actually went through the deck. The area was covered with liner so it wasn't obvious immediately where the water intrusion is, but it did actually leak both into and outside the compression post and then down into the bilge. A proper cleaning and resealing of all bolts and fixtures solved the issue

So, it is still an area worth checking.
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Old 02-09-2009
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The only issue I see is a) you need to disconnect your bilge pump so it doesn't try to run while frozen
b) you need to find the source, blue chalk helps you to trace water leaks, just sprinkle it on the likely places and see if a water trace runs through it (you can get it in bulk from a hardware store, use the chalk made for chalk lines).

and of course C) your bilge is too small to open a for profit ice rink
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