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Discussion Starter #1
My boat takes on ~4 gallons of water between the bilge and engine compartment. It takes about two months to accumulate this much, at which point I slop it all out. This is my first boat and I'm trying to understand how normal this is. After removing the majority of the water, I've looked for minor leaks but can't find anything. Is it typical to always have a small amount of water in the hull?

If it helps, this is a 1978 33 foot Peterson. Overall very hardy, I'd just like to keep water out of the boat.

Thanks!
 

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1981 Endeavour 32
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That seems like a lot to me......I would check for leaks in the items below the waterline first - seacocks and the drive shaft - to make sure there isn't a leak that could sink you. After that it's looking for leaks in the deck.

I had a leak around the manual bilge pump cover on my boat that took me forever to find, but it was letting in a lot of water when it rained hard.

Good luck!
 
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Not all boats have dry bilges. We don't have a dry bilge. Our icebox drains into it as does the small amount of water from the shaft packing.

Have you checked the packing to make sure the drip is not more than recommended? If it drains into the bilge to begin with of course.
 

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I could be rain water leaking through a deck fitting or hatch. but my bet would be a leak from the top of a water tank which leaks some water when you fill the tank completely full. have you done the taste test to determine if its salt water or fresh.

Or how about the shaft packing??
 

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well

do you have an inboard, do you have a shaft? what is the drip rate if you dont have a dripless shaft system?

do you have portlights? do they leak? do you have deck hardware? do they leak? do you have toerails? do they leak? do you have a deck stepped mast or keel stepped mast? does it leak?

the amount of potential leaks on a boat is endless!!!!!!

4 galons in that amount of time is not dangerous in my opinion but if its not raining every day it could be

where are you?

whats the weather like? dry or rainy season?

not to be mean but your question lacks a lot of details that can determine whether or not its a critical amount

good luck finding where the water is coming from
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That makes sense. I've watched the propeller shaft and motor while in gear and didn't notice leakage. It very well could be a drain from the cockpit that has a crack in it. I'll take a look, thanks!

As an aside, we have a similar issue on the mast. When it rains hard, water runs down the channel of the mast and into the cabin. I'd love to figure out how to prevent that.
 

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welcome to sailboat maintenance! jajaja at least you know one source now find the rest...ooooh the fun of it all!
 

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Dirt Free
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That makes sense. I've watched the propeller shaft and motor while in gear and didn't notice leakage.
If you have a conventional stuffing box, you're supposed to have "leakage".
About 8 drips per minute underway and nothing at rest. If you are not dripping you may be scoring your shaft.
 

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Any automatic bilge pumps involved here ? Are you removing the water with a manual bilge pump ?
 

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Okay, I'll bite. IMHO there is no such thing as a "normal" amount of water in the bilge! Of course less is better than more, but seriously, it depends a great deal on where the water is coming from...a leaking below-the-waterline hose/thru hull connection is a ticking time bomb, while dribbles down the mast in a tropical monsoon season is a minor inconvenience.

If you're lying in salt water, one (psychologically somewhat unpleasant) thing you can do to quickly narrow the possibilities is to dip your finger in the bilge when it's full and taste it - salty means from below, fresh means from above...now spit!

As already pointed out, the possible sources of water ingress are many - leaking keel bolts, corroded water tanks/fittings (does water level remain the same in water tanks when not being used?), bad hose clamps, leaking engine hoses, faulty scuppers, prop shaft, portlights, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The pisser with some deck/topside leaks is that they start out in one place, but the water may run a good distance behind paneling & furniture before it gets to where you find the water dripping into the interior of the boat. And, don't be too surprised if it turns out there's actually more than one source. Put on your Deerstalker cap, have a buddy turn a hose on and wash the boat down while you poke around with a flashlight, and begin the detective work Sherlock!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks - I'm hesitant to give the water a taste, because of the greasy engine compartment. I'm actually fairly hopeful that it's freshwater coming from a leak in some cockpit fitting. After drying it out and sailing for a period, there hasn't been accumulated water. That and the above discussion makes me think above-waterline leak. My only other major concern is if it's a tiny leak from a through-hull.

Are there any materials or tints you can use to help find minor leaks? I'm imagining some sort of paper material or dye that you can use to mark around fittings.
 

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Get the interior of the bilge as dry as possible then take some paper towels and put them in the bilge races (...what's the right word for the pathways the water takes from the source of the leak to the sump?) ....at various locations around the boat. When you come back and find a wet towel you know the leak is somewhere up hill from that spot. Repeat, as necessary, moving "up hill" -- you'll eventually find the leak. (Some of it may be condensation, in which case there is no "leak").
 

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For pure water, the boiling point is 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) at one atmosphere of pressure, and saltwater, the boiling point is raised and depends on the amount of salt. So if it boils at 212 deg F. it is fresh, anything higher is salt.
 

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Old soul
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My boat takes on ~4 gallons of water between the bilge and engine compartment. It takes about two months to accumulate this much, at which point I slop it all out. This is my first boat and I'm trying to understand how normal this is. After removing the majority of the water, I've looked for minor leaks but can't find anything. Is it typical to always have a small amount of water in the hull?

If it helps, this is a 1978 33 foot Peterson. Overall very hardy, I'd just like to keep water out of the boat.
OK, that amounts to about 1 cup of water per day. Perhaps a bit more than I'd like, but hardly something to panic about. If your stuffing box is in need of maintenance you could easily get that much water. But from what you say, my bet is that you're getting leaks above the water line, probably through ports, hatches, hawse pipe, and likely through deck fittings. It's an older boat. It's bound to have some leaks.

I assume you have a automatic bilge pump? If not, get one. Do check out the thru hulls to confirm all are solid and not leaking, and watch your stuffing box some more. It better leak some when the shaft is turning, unless it is a no-drip box. If it's a tank leaking, then find that and fix it. But really, one cup a day is not a big deal. Less is better, but not something to loose too much sleep over.
 

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If you have a keel steped mast, then depending on rainfall and locations of cutouts for the internal halyards that about of water is not surprising.
 

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STANDARD 'leakage rate' for a 1 to 1-1/4" non-rotating shaft in a standard stuffing box with FLAX packing is 1 to 2 drops per minute.

1 to 2 drops per minute (gtt) X 24 hours X 60 minutes = 1440 to 2880 drops per day.
1 milliliter (ml) = ~18 drops
1440 to 2880 gtt per DAY / 18 = 80 to 160 ml / DAY

1 gallon = 3.78 liters = 3,780 milliliters
3 gallons = 11,340 milliliteters

11340 milliliters ÷ 80 to 160 ml/DAY = ~70 to 140 days = 2.3 to 4.6 MONTHS

Rx: - YOUR DRIP RATE IS PERFECTLY NORMAL

;-)
 

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If you have a conventional stuffing box, you're supposed to have "leakage".
About 8 drips per minute underway and nothing at rest. If you are not dripping you may be scoring your shaft.
mines a little extra juicy unfortunately

I have about a drip a minute or two at standstill

bummer

BUT better loose than tight...as tight will damage a shaft and render it useless in seconds!:D
 

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STANDARD 'leakage rate' for a 1 to 1-1/4" non-rotating shaft in a standard stuffing box with FLAX packing is 1 to 2 drops per minute.

1 to 2 drops per minute (gtt) X 24 hours X 60 minutes = 1440 to 2880 drops per day.
1 milliliter (ml) = ~18 drops
1440 to 2880 gtt per DAY / 18 = 80 to 160 ml / DAY

1 gallon = 3.78 liters = 3,780 milliliters
3 gallons = 11,340 milliliteters

11340 milliliters ÷ 80 to 160 ml/DAY = ~70 to 140 days = 2.3 to 4.6 MONTHS

Rx: - YOUR DRIP RATE IS PERFECTLY NORMAL

;-)
and there you have it

seems I adjusted mine JUST PERFECT

having no drip at standstill is extreme to me but there are always opinions and likes and ways of doing things

peace:D
 

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Many ways to find leakage. You can use a Crayola "washable marker" and draw a line on fiberglass or metal. If water drips down it will erase the line.

Or dust a space with plain talcum powder. Water running down will leave tracks in the powder.

Does your two months mean with the prop running? Or not? If the amount of water varies with prop use, it could be the stuffing box. If that hasn't been repacked in five years, it is a first choice to take a look at. Repacking with GoreTex string or Teflon putty may solve the problem.

If the water is coming in from abovedecks with rains, there are ways to find deck leaks and fix them as well. Plenty of threads on that already.

Normal to have water in the bilge? Some, sure, unless you are drying it out. Coupla gallons sloshing around mean you are soaking the keel bolts though, and that's not a good idea.
 

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The "taste test" is inconclusive.

Rainwater running into an engine bilge where the stuffing box drains to, will taste salty.

The "powder test" is much more effective. Buy a cheap rose bush duster from the hardware store, and load it with DE powder (diatomaceous earth, also at the hardware store).

DE powder is very fine, harmless and cheap. Give some puffs of that around your bilges and watch the water trails illuminate like magic.
 
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