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inthesprings 08-24-2009 10:49 AM

Water in the bilge
Went to button up the boat last night after a day of sailing/surfing and I flipped the bilge pump on for kicks. It usually runs only for a few seconds before sucking air. The bilge is normally very dry. Well the pump kept running for awhile to the point where I rolled up the rug and took a look. The bilge was full to the brim! WTF! I immediately start looking for a leak or anything out of place or someting. But there was nothing. The blge pumped dry and that was that. I went back this morning to take a look and the bilge water was at the same level. No new water. Im trying to figure out how the hell the water got there and I can only think of two things. FW holding tank leaked or water came in through the bilge pump discharge line. Didnt check the water holding tank, but I dont think its that. I think its came in from the bilge discharge line. Here's why. I had the boat anchored up in some 4-5 foot ocean swells. Wasn't really open ocean, but Bill threw in some waves where there usually arent. So anyway, the swells were pushing water up over the bilge discharge through hull and I think the water got in that way. Or, because we had a following sea on the way back, the same thing could have happend.

What do you think?? Ill be checking the FW holding tank when I get home to confirm its not that. If its the bilge line, is there a check valve I can put in or something?


EpicAdventure 08-24-2009 01:25 PM

Do you have a float switch for the bilge pump?

Was the bilge pump set to "auto"?

jjns 08-24-2009 01:33 PM

you may want to check the shaft as well. We had a similar experience early on with intermittent filling of the bilge, PO had installed a drip-less seal that worked GREAT when sitting in the slip. When underway though... only found it as one day there was an odd noise and pulled the covers off while underway, whole engine compartment was a cloud with a radial spray going on at the shaft. A new, quality drip less seal solved all problems.

T37Chef 08-24-2009 02:38 PM

I 2 have had the shaft leak before, I would check that for sure

inthesprings 08-24-2009 04:43 PM

No float switch (thats on the list). You just throw the switch on the panel. Im pretty in tune (I thought) with how much is a normal amount of water in the bilge. I checked the shaft seal when I first got her in the spring, just because I had no idea how it worked. It would drip a little while motoring. Its supposed to drip a little, right? Anyway, Ill have to check that again I guess. Unless that thing was flowing good though, it seemed like too much water in there too fast to be from it. Going to check now. Thanks for the tips. Ill report back later.

sawingknots 08-24-2009 06:18 PM

i had a very simular experince with my boat a few years ago,i had recently installed a lot of extra equipment [weight]at or near the stern,hmmm just enough to make the boat set a little lower in the water,when the bilge pump kicked on and shut back off the hose would occasionaly siphon sea water back into the bilge,instead of drilling another hole through the hull at a higher point,i opted to have the bilge discharge into the cockpit

sawingknots 08-24-2009 06:22 PM

i wouldn't use a check valve or vented loop because they could become fouled with debris and no longer work

sawingknots 08-24-2009 06:25 PM

yup the stuffing box should drip occasionaly especially when the prop shaft is operating

Volkhard 08-24-2009 07:12 PM

How is your cockpit drained? On my boat the 2 drains have short runs of hose run to the stern. I just replaced one of them because of chafe that would have eventually allowed the hose to leak into the bilge instead have the water flow into the ocean.

Also, if this happens again (I hope it dosn't), try to check the water before pumping it overboard. Seawater smells different than freshwater or contents from your holding tank. After I made sure it's not the (wastewater-) holdingtank, I would actually taste a minute amount to figure out whether it is seawater or freshwater.
Make sure to make your floatswitch highest priority. Even a very small leak can sink your boat in the slip within a couple of days!
Hope you find the source soon.

PorFin 08-24-2009 07:34 PM


Originally Posted by sawingknots (Post 516469)
i wouldn't use a check valve or vented loop because they could become fouled with debris and no longer work

I agree with your take on the check valve, but strongly disagree on the vented loop.

Unless the bilge pump discharge is WELL above the waterline (and above the max heeled waterline) there's always the possibility of a siphon forming and filling your bilge with seawater. Although an anti-siphon valve can become fouled either with debris or more often simple salt crystals, they are realtively easy to clean and keep functional.

Bottom line is that if you've got a drain line originating below the waterline that discharges overboard anywhere below the max heeled waterline, you are going to need some type of anti-siphon device to keep backflow from sinking your boat.

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