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  #1  
Old 10-25-2009
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Where is the bilge water coming from?

I "enjoyed" reading the "ultimate bilge pump" thread. It made me want to get out my Heathkit tools and start building. I have had most of the same problems, we all seem to have.

Keeping the boat off the bottom is an important goal. Automating that would be a wonderful accomplishment. Maintenance is the solution for me. I now have a simple Ruehl 2000 as my "primary" and another one as my "secondary". I have a sump. My primary float switch is mounted about 4" above the pump. My bilge is dry. I have a big sponge I keep in the sump and use occasionally to sop up what little water I find there. One of the first things I do when I come aboard the boat is empty that sponge . As is true of any situation, if my batteries run down because a catastrophic failure occurs in my absence there will be consequences. My boat is FG and the hull does not "normally" leak. I have tracked down every "normal" source of water entering the boat and done my best to eliminate them.

To deal with a failure that requires an emergency response I have Whale Henderson mounted in the cockpit, another Henderson operates my Lavac toilet and can be switched to the bilge. A large Beckson is stowed and a small one handles melt water from the ice box which gets pumped into the sink. The pickup for the raw water pump on the engine can be switched to a strainer in the sump in an emergency, too. Beyond that there is the 6 gallon bucket!

I am curious about where the water is coming from that seems to be part of the "normal" bilge contents. Rain? Shaft leaks? A wooden hull with issues?

Where does the water in your bilge come from?

George

Last edited by downeast450; 10-25-2009 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 10-25-2009
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Thumbs up Bilge Water

In our boat we now have a dry bilge - nothing but dust and some dry tufts of shed hair from our terrier. But - it took two years of looking around and remedying all the problems to get there.
First problem was the A/C condensate was draining into the bilge. We bought and installed a "condensator" (inline venturi) from Mermaid which sucks the condensate overboard with the discharge water whenever the A/C is working.
Next, our ten year old plumbing was subject to a number of pinholes and leaks at various connections. Some home handyman plumbing took care of that when eventually the sources of the leaks were located.
Finally, the ten year old hot water heater was seeping from the fittings where they were corroding. Replacement h/w heater was the solution to that.
We have a dripless shaft seal which eliminates that source of water.
Now, whenever we arrive at the boat we operate the bilge pump manually for a few minutes and it only sucks air.
If those issues don't apply to your boat, perhaps there is some seepage around the keel bolts?
Good luck in your search for the elusive source.
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Old 10-25-2009
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Another difficult-to-avoid source of water in the bilge is due to a keel stepped mast. Even with a real good boot/deck seal, water will run down the inside of the mast through the various halyard exit holes etc. This is most noticeable when it's windy AND raining.
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Old 10-25-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downeast450 View Post
Where does the water in your bilge come from?

George
Bilge water fairies. Tiny creatures who sole purpose in the cosmos is to frustrate boat owners. By the cover of darkness, these tiny creatures carry their minute buckets back and forth from the top sides to the bilge. Filling the buckets topside and emptying them in the bilge. Each trip is a spiritual calling for them. They are relentless.

Sometimes they leave "tracks" if so, one must seal off their "port of entry." Most of us learn to live with a minor infestation.

Last edited by bubb2; 10-25-2009 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 10-25-2009
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In addition to all those mentioned so far, I would add leaking portlights. I recently sealed all of ours and it made quite a difference to water ingress. Most of the water in the bilge now comes from the dripping stuffing box. Although it is supposed to drip even when the prop shaft is not turning, it is in need of re-stuffing (if you will pardon the expression) and therefore more incontinent than it should be.

Incidentally, not long after I bought the boat (a Morgan 30), I went down to the dock one day after it been raining heavily for several days. The bilge was full to the brim with water. On investigation, this turned out to be due to two things. Firstly, the cockpit drain was teed into the bilge pump plumbing and the pipe runs were such that the water could drain from the cockpit and down into the bilge . Secondly, water from the leaking portlights had got in amongst the bilge pump wiring and cunningly disabled the automatic function. Relocating said wiring and re-plumbing the drains and bilge pump sorted that problem. It was a salutary lesson. If I hadn't been in the habit of going down to the dock regularly, I would have been faced with finding a mast sticking out of the water where my boat should have been........

Stuart
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I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky - I left my shoes and socks there, I wonder if they're dry?
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Mine is almost dry now too. It took a couple of years of tweaks and my mast is stepped on deck. I too re-bedded portlights and chainplates which both had contributed to the relatively small amount of water in the bilge. The "Downeasters" dripless stuffing box involves adding a grease fitting just behind the threads. If a boat is going to sit for a week on the mooring a shot of grease into the box eliminates the minor dripping. It isn't really eco friendly I guess and I have not added one but got that advice from several local fishermen. If I am going away for a few weeks I tighten the stuffing box and stop the drip while I am gone.

Condensation is our Maine source now. A couple of weeks of fog in 50 degree water keeps the sponge in the sump nice and soft.

One near disaster that occurred while the boat was on the hard the first winter we had it. I "discovered" that the cockpit drains crossed in such a way that the water in them could freeze. A combination of a failure of the cover and a February rain storm floated the floorboards. I noticed the problem with the cover, discovered the full bilge and pumped it out before the temperature went back down into the teens that night. Whew! I fixed the cover and installed a garboard plug as soon as it warmed up enough to do the work. I also added another cockpit drain that has a hose fitting and a shutoff. When the boat is covered and stored I keep a hose attached that runs directly into the bilge to the garboard plug.
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