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NewportNewbie 08-26-2012 12:10 AM

Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
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Went to the boat for a quick sail...opened it up, looked in and saw the floor flooded by a few inches...I hit the switch for the bilge pump which is on auto, and no pump...So I proceeded to wet-vac the boat to remove the water and see what it was. My initial thought was the head exploded from the heat...nope thats salt water and its pretty clean. So its coming in the boat...from where? The packing gland is now my thought. It was dripping a bit more than I liked...I talked to the boat yard that hauled it out last year then replaced the stuffing box and they said a few extra drips is better than no drips. Called up KJ who knows the boat well and he said lets look at the packing gland...a STREAM of water was flowing from it. Once I got the bilge dry, I looked at the bilge pump and the positive power wire was broken off. A week ago it was working fine. My initial though since it was Saturday evening was fix the bilge, keep an eye on it until Monday and take it to the boat yard. I called Pat from Balboa Boat Yard who did the work on it last year. He wasnt there but I left a message. He called me back from Lake Arrowhead (great guy!) and told me how to adjust the packing gland. It seemed a bit daunting...but what choice did I have? Grabbed a big channel lock and 90 seconds later the leak was fixed. Now to clean it all up tomorrow...never got to go on that sail...glad this happened in the slip and not 20+ miles offshore. Tomorrow Im going to look at the failed bilge pump...I connected it to new power leads and it fired I'll look at that in more detail...Maybe I'll get that sail after all! The above pic is my initial shock...the ones below are of the water cleaned up...and the packing gland before I cleaned up the area and fixed the leak. You can actually see the stream of water coming from the bottom! I have a second bilge pump a tad bit higher at the lower part of the engine compartment that is HUGE and thats so if the water gets high enough that one will kick on. The water was nowhere near this high. Also nothing was damaged other than the wood covering the bilge which needed replacing all in all not too bad of a day! Its still a good day when working on the boat!

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<a href=""><img src="" alt="" title="IMG_0782" width="584" height="438" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-691" /></a>

CalebD 08-26-2012 12:39 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
Been there, done that.
Glad you caught it in time.

Almost 10 years ago we had an automatic sensor hooked up to our bilge pump. We also had a questionable stuffing box at the time. The automatic sensor pumped out quite a bit of water so that we were not as concerned about the leak as we should have been. Left the boat alone for too long and found 6" of water above the cabin sole. Water got into the engine oil, the batteries were shot and lots of water had to be bailed by hand at the mooring.
Shortly thereafter I ripped out the automatic sensor and we tightened the stuffing box. I have since been quite happy not having an automatic bilge pump that only hid problems from me and drained my batteries.
If you can get to your boat once or twice a week you should be fine without an automatic bilge pump. I feel it is better to know when water is getting into my boat then not knowing how much water the bilge pump has pumped out in my absence.
This is kind of a philosophical question, as in, is it half full or half empty (or do you prefer brunettes to blonds).
As a compromise I'd keep your Maxi bilge pump on automatic in case of the catastrophic leak but keep your Mini bilge pump on manual operation only. At least this way you will know when there is water getting inside your cabin. If your bilge pumps are all on automatic it is always 'out of sight, out of mind'.

Good catch.

flo617 08-26-2012 12:48 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
Almost the same thing hapenned to me last year (2 weeks after getting the boat). I had a leaky raw water hose. Small leak but the pump did not engage for some reason.

I was lucky, I had a deep and large bilge and nothing was flooded but the water was almost at the sole board level (on my boat the bilge runs almost the whole length of the cabin).

Lesson learned

WDS123 08-26-2012 01:54 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
Good work !

Another argument for Bill Schock's " shallow bilge - strong hull" design philosophy. Bill recognized that cutting a hole in the hull diaphragm and creating a deep sump and then attaching a keel to the sump was flawed:

1) this is an inherently weak structural design with the biggest loads (keel) having plenty of opportunity for weak joints. The hull diaphragm is weakened by a big hole where it should be strongest.

2) big sump means needing to make the keel wider to fit a pump in there - wide keel = slow

3) big sump hides lots of water and lots of potential issues. Newport discovered a potentially catastrophic situation precisely because his S30 doesn't have a huge sump where water collects out-of sight out of mind. Newport found the root cause of the leak a d repaired it immediately because the shallow bilge hides zero water. Imagine if instead, Newport had a boat with a sump that held 15 gallons of water deeply hidden under the sole....he would not have know he had a serious leak until he would be outside !

SchockT 08-26-2012 01:58 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
The same thing happened to me when I got my Santana. We bought it from out of town and had it trucked in, and when the boat was put in the water the packing was leaking very badly. Being my first inboard I had no experience with such things, but I figured "Theres a bit nut, and threads where the leak is, I guess I'll try tightening it!". Fortunately I had my work van with me so I grabbed a pipe wrench and went for it! It was the very first "repair" I ever did on my new boat!


Don't you have a manual bilge pump installed? My manual pump would have removed that much water in under 5 minutes! I would hate to be dependent on a little electric pump at sea!

jameswilson29 08-26-2012 07:01 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
This leads further credence to the Boat/US recommendation for 2 automatic pumps on a boat the size of your boat.

davidpm 08-26-2012 09:08 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
It you like idea of an automatic pump you can add an hour meter to the pump. That way you will know how much it is running.

smurphny 08-26-2012 09:27 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
I have a deep sump/bilge area (the abyss) where my pumps drain from. The large pump is a standard Rule submersible which sits down there somewhere (actually, I have it mounted on a plate which has a line on it to get it up if necessary--it's out of arms reach), the other is an old belt driven, non-submersible that is mounted on a bulkhead. I rewired the entire system with float-less switches that are both mounted, ONE ABOVE THE OTHER, on a pc. of s.s. flat bar that hangs down into the bilge. Two pumps, with switches at different levels IMO is a good idea, especially since the second belt-driven pump is so noisy it would wake the dead! It could also be easily connected to an alarm. In addition to these, I have two manual pumps-one in the cockpit, one on the galley bulkhead that can be operated from below. Electric pumps are great but can go out along with the rest of the electric things.

FMFDoc 08-26-2012 09:39 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!

Originally Posted by davidpm (Post 914312)
It you like idea of an automatic pump you can add an hour meter to the pump. That way you will know how much it is running.

This is what I did. Had a small, steady leak from a hose fitting that went undetected because the bilge pump (automatic) was evacuating the water every few hrs. Well, several years ago I arrived to find the bilge pump failed (debris in the stainer) and water everywhere. Bailed her out and found the offending hose fitting.... The bilge pump, until it failed, kept us from realizing a leak existed. I've since wired in a meter that measures the number of bilge pump on/off cycles. Check it every time I get to the boat to see how often it activated.....

sawingknots 08-26-2012 10:36 AM

re: Went to the boat for a sail..and its Flooded!!!
I have so little cofidence in automatic bilge pumps that i have mine rigged only manually turn on off,i keep a constant check on all thru hulls and also the packing gland,in my opinion most people put too much faith in auto pumps,I've never saw a maintained packing gland suddenly sink a boat,hoses are usually the culprit [fewer thru hulls]and regular inspections are a must,amazingly most boats sink drains are only cheap metal not stainless,I've saw 2 different boats sink because the sink hose attachments corroded away allowing the hose to fall down below the waterline,the cockpit drain is the other likely problem,i clean mine at least once per month even in the winter when i don't stay on the boat,btw a older boat sank at a marina i was at and it had 3 automatic pumps on the other hand i've saw basicly abandoned remaiun floating for years

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