Leaking hull/keel joint - SailNet Community

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Old 07-02-2010
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Leaking hull/keel joint

OK, so today we finally got our '73 Cal 27 back in the water, shiny with a beautiful new coat of paint, new standing rigging, newly covered cushions, completely rewired electrical system, and freshly re-bedded hardware.

Everything looks great, we pat ourselves on the back, and then... water in the bilge, seeping up from the bottom of the bilge. The water is seeping in at 1/2 an inch per hour, which I would guesstimate equals half a gallon to a gallon per hour. The boat didn't have this problem last year.

So, should we have the boat immediately hauled out again, or rely on our new automatic bilge pump and hope for the best? The water is definitely coming from the very bottom of the bilge (it's a very deep narrow bilge, about two feet deep and 6 inches wide at the bottom, fin keel stub style). It may be coming from the keel bolts, or from the fiberglass of the bottom of the bilge, it's hard to tell because it's nearly unaccessible. To tighten the keel bolts we will need to cut away nearly the whole floor of the cabin, and remove some plywood structural supports that are inside the bilge (it's fiberglassed in, what a dumb design).

After the boat was hauled last fall there was a tiny crack (catalina smile) on the forward keel/hull connection. Nothing worse than I see on a quarter of the other boats in the yard. We cleaned it up, inspected (no obvious problems other than superficial one), filled in with 5200, and enclosed in a narrow band of fiberglass cloth for good measure.

But now I'm guessing there is more movement between the hull and the keel than this little crack made it seem.
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Old 07-02-2010
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Did you inspect the keel stub inside the bilge. On a boat as old as yours, it is likely that the stub has a plywood core. If the core has gotten wet and started to rot... it will need to be removed and the keel stub needs to be reinforced to properly support the keel. This is usually the cause of the "Catalina Smile".
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It is very hard to ascertain the condition of anything inside the bilge because of the depth and narrowness, but yes, it probably has a plywood core (everything else on the boat does). Do you think the fiberglass between the keel and bilge has cracked, why it is leaking? The smile itself wouldn't explain the leaking, but it's causes might.
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If the plywood core has gotten wet and started rotting...the keel will sag—causing the smile and water will get into the boat... since the keel bolts have probably loosened and the sealant's seal has broken as the keel sags.
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Old 07-03-2010
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Think I would pick it up,it aint going to get better.marc
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Is it possible to effectively tighten the keel bolts in the water?
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Old 07-03-2010
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Not if there is plywood in the stub. All you will do is crush the wood which should have never been there to start with. Best to haul and investigate. It won't get better.
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We cut out a section of the floor today to see more of the bilge. It appears to be coming from the very most aft section of the bilge, at the very bottom, and not from the keel bolts. So there must be a problem with the fiberglass stub. We put a clump of epoxy putty on the seeping area and it seems to have staunched most of the flow. We'll check back tomorrow and see how it's doing.
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What you could do is to haul the boat and pump the bilge dry. Let it sit for a few days to dry out a little and then pour water in the bilge and see where it is leaking out. The reverse of what is happening now
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Old 07-03-2010
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Check the building a keel stand thread for tips on doing this. I have one now, another possibly after this one. You'll likely have to rebed the keel and fair it back in with glass to stop the problem. Not a good thing to be sailing with a loose keel.
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