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hillenme 05-13-2013 10:11 PM

Help pinpointing a leak
3 Attachment(s)
I've attached pictures to help my non-expert description of what i'm seeing.

I have a 1984 C&C 35MKIII that seems to have leak below the waterline. I purchased the boat in the fall and never saw it on the water until last Thursday, on Saturday I delivered about 20 miles to it's home on a mooring in Lake Michigan.

The boat does not have an electric bilge pump - a new setup to me. I noticed that bilge had filled quite a bit in just 24 hours after pumping it out manually without running the engine or any rain. The engine compartment and all compartments aft of the where the deep part of the sump starts are bone dry. In other words, water was leaking out of that hole without, apparently, coming from the compartment just on the other side of that (stringer, bulkhead, floor?? not sure what it's called). On closer inspection I noticed that there is a cavity in that (I'll call it stringer) that is filling with water and then spilling over into the forward section and down into the sump. Circled in the second pic. In the third pic I have shaded where the water appears to fill up until it spills out forward into the sump. I was able to stick a sponge in the channel, down into the cavity and soak up a lot of water. I can't reach the bottom of the cavity with my finger. It take only several minutes before the water fills back to the hole and starts dripping down into the sump.

I need to do some more work before I can determine a helpful volume of water that is entering the sump within 24 hours, but I'm of the impression that a boat that is leaking below the waterline is sinking... Any thoughts on where this water is coming from??

marcusc130 05-13-2013 10:34 PM

Help pinpointing a leak
I can't see the pics on my iPhone app, but check your stuffing box. Mine was dripping about once a second when the boat was launched this year, and I was amazed how much water built up in a short amount of time.

hillenme 05-13-2013 11:12 PM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
I'm pretty sure I've ruled out a stuffing box based on the fact that I can't follow any drip of water from the engine compartment back to the point in the bilge where it's filling. There's 10 feet of dry bilge between my stuffing box and where water is accumulating. But, when I can get someone else on the boat tomorrow I will definitely climb down there and watch the stuffing box.

jimgo 05-13-2013 11:24 PM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
Is that a keel bolt on the other side of the thing you're calling a stringer? Is there (or should there have been) another bold inside that stringer? Given its location, it seems to me like that might be along the keel/hull joint.

Short term solution: solar panel, battery, and 12v pump that can run dry; just let it run continuously. You could even be proactive and put a tube into the hole in the stringer.

Longer term solution: get her to a yard so you can have her hauled and inspect that area more carefully. If that isn't an option, try a camera like this:
Inspection Camera - Save on this Digital Inspection Camera

or, if that lens is too big to fit, this might work:

Digital Inspection Camera with Recorder

Another option is to get a small pencil-sized flashlight, tie a string to it, and use that to light up the inside of the stringer. Or drop a glow stick in there.

Unfortunately, in the end, I suspect you're going to wind up having to haul her unless someone knows of something hidden under that stringer.

rugosa 05-13-2013 11:31 PM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
Do you have water in your tanks? If so, add food coloring, one color in first tank to elimate, then different color in other. Also, what about head intake or head itself, close all through hulls and methodically eliminate each one. Then instrument through hulls. Before commiting to haul out track down PO and ask if it was a problem before.

hillenme 05-13-2013 11:35 PM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
I hadn't considered that there might be another keel boat in there, but given that there is another one right on the other side of it, it seems like they would be way to close together.

I have been in contact the PO before I purchased and I specifically asked him if he had a problem leaving it for extended periods without a bilge pump and a float switch and he said "No." He was the only owner of the boat and had it on the same mooring for 28 years before I purchased her. It did spend eighteen months hauled out from the time he last launched it until I did. Could all that time in the cradle have stressed the keel joint to a point to cause a leak where he didn't see one?

rugosa 05-13-2013 11:43 PM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
There are plenty of plumbing connections from water tanks - tank outlet, elbows, in-line filters, T's, valves, etc. C&C used Qest fittings back then, if one froze or cracked, or got stepped on - it could be the source. Most problems on boats are simple problems, often due to out of site/out of mind maintenance.

hillenme 05-14-2013 01:00 AM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak

Originally Posted by rugosa (Post 1029824)
Most problems on boats are simple problems, often due to out of site/out of mind maintenance.

I sure hope that's the case for me. Given the short sailing season here (it will be hauled in October) I'd love to think this could wait until fall without too much concern.

jameswilson29 05-14-2013 06:12 AM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
Sorry to hear about your leak. There are many potential sources, you will have to determine the source by the process of elimination. It appears you have correctly eliminated the propeller shaft fitting and probably anything aft of the bilge as the source, although water can make its way forward or aft or laterally throughout the boat. In addition, sometimes, water will accumulate in one area of the boat, then be released and redirected by the movement of the boat through the action of sailing or motoring and the stringers and ribs in the boat.

If you were in salt water, we could advise you to taste the water to determine if it is fresh or sea water, but your boat's location in the Great Lakes makes that test unfeasible.

Check the water tank and all thru-hulls, including the head intake thru-hull, the speedo and depth sounder thru-hull, the sink drain thru-hull, the icebox drain thru-hull, the engine cooling water intake, and any thru-hulls that have been abandoned. Test and examine all seacocks for leakage. You also need to check all hoses and fittings, the engine exhaust elbow and the water pump. In fact, it is a good idea to grab the hoses and manipulate them to determine if the material is still solid. Sometimes, a hose will dry rot or develop a slow leak along the spiral seam, although it appears to be fine. With a new-to-you boat, it is certainly advisable, inexpensive and relatively easy to replace all hoses.

Next, check the potential hull structural elements entry points: the keel bolts, the rudder post, a bow thruster, if the boat has one.

In the meantime, I second Jimgo's good advice about setting up solar power and an automatic bilge pump. You need to work quickly or haul the boat. I know from a previous thread, you were plan to install 2 automatic pumps.

You have gotten some good advice. In lieu of adding food coloring, you could add some red RV/Marine antifreeze to your water tank and pump some through the head.

blutoyz 05-14-2013 08:09 AM

Re: Help pinpointing a leak
How many inches of water are we talking about in 24 hours?

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