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coondogger 11-02-2003 03:00 PM

mysterious leak
Sometimes I find my bilges full of water. Other times they''re fairly dry. I suspect it is rainwater. But how is it getting into the bilges? There is no problem with the raw water intake for the engine. But I find it difficult to tell if there is a leak in the cockpit drain hoses. Any suggestions?

GordMay 11-02-2003 11:14 PM

mysterious leak
Keel-stepped masts allow rain intrusion.
Likewise, bad keel bolts can allow water in, when/if you ground out at low tide.

coondogger 11-03-2003 01:33 AM

mysterious leak
Nope. No keel bolts; it''s a Folkboat. Also has a deck stepped mast.

GordMay 11-03-2003 03:03 AM

mysterious leak
You could lay a light powdering of Talc'' accross the (dry) bilges, then watch for "tracking" - this might tell you which direction it''s coming from.
I presume there''s no sign of top-side leaks, (ports, hatches, etc.)
Perhaps a head or sink discharge hose?

mcain 11-03-2003 06:44 AM

mysterious leak
Important if it is salt water or fresh (assuming your boat is floating in salt water), and I don''t know from your post which it is.
If salt, consider thru-hulls, etc. This should probably go to the top of your list. I once had a VERY small hole (e.g. a hole from a removed screw) that was above the waterline until the boat moved, then it was under--it put a LOT of water into the bilge once covered it--it was surprising. So check for this. Rudder post or packing gland for the engine shaft are also potential hot spots, when running.
If fresh, two prime areas--rainwater (could be from anywhere). E.g. leaking hatch, etc.
OR, a problem we had--if you have a pressure water system with hot water heater, and the hot water heater pop-off valve dies, it could dump fresh water into the bilge and then the pressure system just refills it. Check if your water tanks seem to be going down quickly. IN any event, somewhere in the fresh water system could also be the problem.
I also like the talc idea--thanks Gord.

coondogger 11-03-2003 10:36 AM

mysterious leak
Salinity cannot be used to help identify the source of the water because the boat is in a lake. I am, however, pretty sure that the bilge directly beneath the engine fills first.
But again, whether this is from the stuffing box or from, say, a leaking cockpit engine access hatch, is difficult to determine. Has anyone had a leaky engine access hatch?

jbanta 11-03-2003 01:11 PM

mysterious leak
If you are getting a fair amount of water in your bilge. You could just take a look at the stuffing box if you get more than a drop every second or so and it''s been awhile since it has been changed I would put some attention on it even if you don''t think it''s the main problem.

e-27 sailor 11-03-2003 07:08 PM

mysterious leak
The only thru-hull I have on my boat is for the speed transducer. I pulled it to clean one day, reinstalled it, and screwed in the cap. The following week, I had water up to the floor boards. The drip from the cap was almost unpreceptable, but one more quarter turn on the cap, and the bildge in now dry again.

kmeeks 11-04-2003 12:21 PM

mysterious leak
I had a mysterious leak at one point aboard my sailboat - turned out the stuffing box for the rudder post needed to be repacked.

I initially tightened the nuts - but after one afternoon of sailing in light winds - it was leaking again.

Another source of water into the bilge on my boat is the drain from the refrigeration / ice box.

Irwin32 11-04-2003 01:40 PM

mysterious leak
You say that sometimes your bilge is full, and other times it is fairly dry. You need to first determine if there is a pattern. If it happens after it rains or you wash the boat - well that indicates where it is coming from. One would think that a below the waterline leak would not be intermitant. You need to check frequently and note prior situations. Determining wether this is rain water or a hull leak should not, over a little time, be difficult to determine.

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