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Discussion Starter #1
I have a problem, my Helms 25 has been on the hard for 2 years, (that's not the problem, just a symptom). In all the time I have been painting/ sanding, re-rigging. It has always had water in the keel. It's been there since I got the boat, and probably forever. It's in there with a bunch of what looks like lead coins (ballast) I have discussed it with a variety of people. Some claim it's water ballast, others say I need to drill a hole in the bottom to let it drain out, the seal the holes on the bilge with rubber plug, or corks. The water being down there just bugs me. Last night I got out the drill and almost did the deed. Then I stopped myself and said, "no give Sailnet Forum a chance to chime in", So........ What do you think folks??????
 

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I'm not very familiar with the boat model, but my instinct tells me that it's not water ballast. Do you have any material (boat specifications, etc) which indicates that water ballast was incorporated into the design?

We have some other folks with this boat on the forum. Hopefully you'll get some replies. Meanwhile, sharpen that drill bit.;)
 

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Is there no way to Pump it out?
Where is it coming from?
Find the leak and address that, pump the boat dry and than see what happens.
I have heard of people drilling a hole in the bottom only if the boat is on the hard and the boat is left UNATTENDED for long periods at a time. Than the owner simply filled it and glassed over it when ready to launch again. I don't think I could ever do something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the post

That is my quandry, Let me explain. under the boards, in the "bilge" near the centerboard cable there are 2 1" holes on either side of the keel winch. I can see the lead ballast, and because there is no plugs rainwater has gotten down in there. I have several times taken a shop vac and sucked out what I can, but I cannot get anty lower that the top of the lead ballast coins. I thought about trying to jam a hollow rod (steel brake line) or something like that down there, but how do I know when I've hit bottom? Will it get thru the ballast? Will I damage something pounding down through the ballast pellets? Thus the drill Idea. I hate the Idea of drilling a hole in her, thus the post. FYI She is on the trailer. 4 Ft in the air.
 

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If the boat is designed with a water/lead ballast compartment, and the lead is below the water, and the water is in the ballast compartment (where it belongs), why do you feel the need to drain it?

If you must, yo can take a 30 foot garden hose. Cut the MALE end off. Put the end of the hose where the male end was into the bilge through one of those 1" holes. Run the other (female) end over the gunwhale, and keep it as low to the ground as you can get it. Connect the female end to a spigot, or another garden hose. Run water through the hose until the air is purged from the hose, and the bilge starts to fill. turn off the spigot, and disconnect the hose. You should have established a siphon, and the bilge should begin to drain, without putting a hole in your boat.

All I can think of is Curly picking up an auger; "Hey Moe, Look, A water-leter-outter..."
 

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Something is Missing

It doesn't make sense to me the water belongs in there. What happens during the winter when you are on the hard during 10 degree weather?

If you were to be knocked down while sailing your ballast would work against you. It would shift with gravity and keep you from coming around upright. For this same reason, it seems as though your lead ballast should be sealed in some way.

To me, drilling a hole to dry out the hull is not the question. Just what is going on with your ballast and the loose lead is.

Maybe the water should be drained and epoxy should be poured over the loose lead in order to keep the water out and the lead in.

Just my thoughts.

Paul
 

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Some boats are either ballasted totally with lead shot of some kind or it is used to fill gaps around lead ingots. If there is a way water will get in and I think this is the problem you have. Ideally you should remove the water totally and then you can pour epoxy in to seal the lead shot. I doubt that you can siphon all the water out as the lead shot will prevent you from getting a hose low enough. As much as you don't want to do this, driling a small hole at the lowest point and letting it drain is probably your best bet. The problem is finding the lowest point of the water. I once owned a sailboat that had this problem, but not to this extent. In my case I sucked all the water I could out with a shopvac through holes drilled in the top of the ballast and then after drying it out a bit with acetone I poured epoxy in till full. Because there was not too much water in my case I believe that the ballast was solid with shot used to fill gaps only. Epoxy should be poured in small amounts as if you use too much at one time it will get very hot. By warming the epoxy before you pour it will become thinner in viscosity and pour easier to fill gaps. In my case I had no other option to drain as the boat was in the water. After the epoxy has set glassn over the holes to seal totally.
Brian
 

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I'm not sure that the "water ballast" description is accurate. Many manufacturers used molds that left a deep void above the lead ballast. Some builders would pour epoxy into this void after the ballast was in place. That costs $. It may well be that the builder expected water to sit in the mold, but I'm not sure that was a great decision. We know a lot more about absorption of water by fiberglass than we did back when these boats were built, so the idea of being able to drain is not a bad one.
My Bristol 31.1 had a deep void, but the ballast was sealed over. It still left a deep chamber below the pumps. We didn't worry about it during the season, but we would pump dry when hauling and add anti-freeze since we were laid up in a cold place.
On the hard, I'd keep the bilges as dry as you can. The siphon idea is a good one (cheap and easy !). I guess the good news is, if you don't see cracks, leaking or blisters on the keel, you are probably OK.
Filling with epoxy is an option, but you need to get it dried out first. Sounds like you have time to do that, if you can keep the rainwater out of the bilge.
 

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I would guarantee that it's not "water ballast", but water that's not supposed to be there.
Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks to all

I have made my decision. Water belongs in my boat only in the fridge, the head, and the storage tank, not in the ballast. (good point on it working against me in a blowover) I am going to drill a 1/16" hole at what I determine to be the low point after drying I will take a sringe of epoxy and fill the hole, cover it with marine tex and put rubber plugs in the bildge holes. Epoxy...hmmm, thinking about it. Viscosity seems like it would be an issue, :cool:

One more thing, any environmental issues? (Lead ladened water cannot be good....)
 

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One more thing, any environmental issues? (Lead ladened water cannot be good....)
If the water is in any way acidic, you could have lead carbonate and perhaps some other lead salts in there. If I remember my chemistry rightly (5 decades ago, give or take), the carbonate would not be in the water: it would precipitate out. Lead chloride and lead acetate would be another matter - they're soluble. You could have trace amounts. You should probably drain it into a bucket and get it tested before dumping it.
 

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Keep us updated on your results.

I've got the same boat (Helms25) with the same issue - water where it doesn't belong over the ballast in the keel. The PO cut a hole big enough to put a bilge pump in there, but is doesn't drain it completely, and I worry about the water left in there during a freeze.

I'm working to eliminate the water sources (yes plural). Leaking window frames, leaking swing keel pin, little or no weatherstripping on the hatches, etc. The usual with an "old but new to me" boat.

I've considered drilling a "drain hole" to let out the accumulated water, but that's not at the top of the list yet.

Philo13
 
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