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Discussion Starter #1
“There’s a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza.”

Or in my case, the hole is in the keel on the trailing edge.

While prepping for bottom paint I notice a rusty, damp spot. Brushing it a bit harder made it start to weep. A poke with a screwdriver caused a gush of water. I drilled several holes in the bottom edge and hit geysers with each one.

Apparently I have been using the keel as an emergency water supply.
May 3rd launch is now postponed. Turns out that May 3rd is National Fiber Glassing Day anyway so I will fit right in as I make the repair and seek out the entry point.

So what do you suggest I use to fill this superfluous water tank?
I looked at:
Interlux Watertite Epoxy Filler
West Marine Polyester Baoters Resin
Marine Tex ('hardens like steel, sands like wood" ...how can that be?)
And of course the traditional West resins / hardener.

Also my keel does not have the drain plug that is on larger boats. Do you suggest I put one in? Or should I just drill a hole each fall and plug it each spring?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
As far as how the water got there I have 2 theories:
1. Rudder stock is leaking
2. Drain from cockpit is leaking

I have tried taking pictures in the bilge, of the areas that are hidden, and they all appear to be dry.

Only thru hull is a galley sink and it is dry.

While I have resin I was thinking that I might use a baby bottle brush to apply a thin coat of resin to the inside of the cockpit drain. This should seal any cracks in this pipe which is about 14" long.

I did pump out the bilge last spring and this year

Or the water has been in the keel for years. I had noticed a SMALL rust stain last year and ignored it.
 

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Barquito
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I would imagine that to do it right you would need to dry out the keel completely. That would take a really long time. For this season you could use thickened epoxy to fill holes, then multiple layers of epoxy and class over that. In the long run, you will need to figure out how to get all the water out of the keel and keep it out.
 

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Try to seal the area with plastic sheet and clay/putty and pull a vacuum to see if there is a leak somewhere other than the area you are working on. If the vacuum holds there are no other leaks it will boil the water/moisture out in a few hours. If it doesn't hold the leak is somewhere else. My guess, it will be a ***** to find. You will probably have to drop the keel.
 

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I am assuming this is an encapsulated keel. Many were filled with iron, and if the keel leaked and the iron got wet, would expand and destroy the keel. Sounds like you don't have that problem. But that much water inside is a major concern. As has been stated, you really need to find out where its coming from. Just putting in a drain is not the solution.

Since you are in Toronto, I assume you sail in fresh water. If you were in salt water, if fresh water came out, you would know it came from the bilge area.
 

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One of None
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encapsulated keels often don't have a bilge that is watertight from the lower parts of the keel. Just like a rudder gets wet, so will such a keel. OP's keel looks like the lead is not the full size of the actual keel and was filled with some kind of filler. Over the years water decomposed it. Only way to dry the keel is to start at the top.. the bilge. Any wetness in the bilge will work it's way down. I don't know what kind of filler can be used to displace water and still bond to the insides of the keel and be structural So it has to be dry.
 

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3 boats back now, we had one with an encapsulated keel. During survey we discovered water.

The cure was much as you say, drill some holes, dry it out, then inject a pile of epoxy. We had it done by a yard as part of the "deal" with the buyer, so I don't know what epoxy they used.

National fiber glassing day indeed:) Best of luck, and by the way, admire very much your positive disposition on the matter!
 

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You didn't mention the color of the water that gushed out. In the one pic, it is clear and that is curious. If it has been in there for any length of time, and you have an iron/steel keel then I would expect your gusher to be rusty, very rusty water. If it is a lead keel, then not so much.
Sadly, were it mine, I believe I would have to inspect the whole area and that would mean removing the fairing from that part of the keel. All of the putty (or whatever) and the glass covering it.
I don't think you can decide on repairing this until you have done that. Sorry, but I'm afraid you're in for a bit of unpleasant work.
 

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I'd agree with capta. If you want to "do it right" you need to find out what is happening in there. Read up some about encapsulated keels, which is what you've got, and you'll need to excavate until you can see what is left in there. Then thoroughly drain, dry, clean, and refill/reattach as needed.

For a more casual sailor you could just drain it, seal it back up, and ignore it until something breaks, and that could be a very very long time. Every time you tack the boat, the keel filler will wobble back and forth a little bit more, until it cleans out all the old filler. Eventually you should hear the noise (thunk!) and then really think about not delaying any further. (G)

Personally...I'd roll up my sleeves and not wait for that.
 

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I might just patch over the hole with a few layers of epoxy and glass for this year. Go sailing. In the fall remove the patch and grind out as much as necessary. Next spring after it's had all winter to dry out fill with thickened epoxy and glass over. Also make sure you can find out where the water is getting in. Many times the problem is in the bilge where the ballast was resin-ed over at the factory.
 

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Yes the color of the water is strange, even with a lead keel if it had been in there very long it would be mucky. I would be worried about any structure that may have been damaged with freeze thaw cycles as well. Remember it is the fiberglass that is holding the casting (be it Iron, concrete lead or some mix) onto the boat. So if the fiberglass got damaged by freeze thaw it could in theory let the keel ballast go.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I was able to stick my cell into a small opening behind the step and take a pic of the upper portion of the pipe that connects the cockpit drain to the underside of the hull. I can only see the top half of the pipe.

Looking down the pipe I can see some cracks.

I tried to brush some epoxy in with a long bottle brush but it left only a thin coat.

Tomorrow I am going to try to feed some flex hose (the type with spiral ridges) down the hole. I will seal both ends with butyl tape if I can actually feed the hose. It will be a tight fit so I don't think I need to glue or epoxy it in place.

Note: the pipe pics need t o be rotated upright)
 

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I'd find anothet way ta drain the 'pit. Fill and far hood rnuff for he srason. sail till fall. then fix. keel is encapsplated and ain't gonna fall off. ;)
 

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I would first concentrate on finding the source of this water. Bilge is a big suspect, so is the cockpit drain. Make as many holes in the keel as seem needed, then put a garden hose first to your cockpit drain to see if water is coming out of the holes in the keel. then try to do the same with your bilge. Once you know where the water is coming from, eliminate the leak and patch up the holes in the keel. It is a small boat so it can't be that hard or complicated.
I would buy the cheapest resin for the filler work, like that automotive bondo stuff, thickened with some filler but not too much, so it goes down into the voids in the keel. Then do the outside of the keel with a good marine epoxy.
 

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Hey Iam,

If you'd like a second opinion, I am close by and could come take a look.

R
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Ritchard
I am pressing ahead this week to meet an 11AM crane appointment on Sat but you are welcome to swing by late in the day around 5 – 730. I am just north of the big 5 legged white crane that you can see from the Gardiner at Cherry and Commissioner.

The original repair looks like it was just filler. There was no glass used. I filled in the holes with West systems thickened resin followed by 4 layers of glass and then topped with more thickened resin. I didn’t get the last coat of resin / filler thick enough as it has drooped a bit as it cured and looks a bit bumpy. This was my first experience with fillers so lesson has been learned. I will sand it down as much as I can and deal with making it pretty next fall or spring. Without access to power the sanding of the resin by hand is a PITA, especially crouched down under the hull.

Yesterday I tried to fit a pipe inside the drain pipe but it was a hair too wide. Instead I fashioned a long skinny paint brushe out of a batten and some J-Cloth and used that to “paint” thickened resin inside the pipe. The rest I used on the crack that I can see from inside the boat.

I now think that the clear water in the bilge / keel may have just been snow melt that came in around my drop boards. Once in the water I will see the results of the pipe repairs. Next fall I will add some rubber gasket around the drop boards and more completely tarp the cockpit area to keep out all snow.

I have looked at adding a bilge pump but the plumbing presents a huge challenge. Plus there is the minor technicality of there being no battery on-board. I am an ideal candidate for that wind powered bilge pump perhaps.
 

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Iam,

Sounds like you have it somewhat sorted. Q: Do you have a deep sump at the forward end of the keel? If so, is that roughly where you drilled that hole? Do the bilges run to that sump?

I wanted to come by later today but got all tied up.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Iam,

Sounds like you have it somewhat sorted. Q: Do you have a deep sump at the forward end of the keel? If so, is that roughly where you drilled that hole? Do the bilges run to that sump?

I wanted to come by later today but got all tied up.
I will take pictures later but no, there is no deep bilge ....that I can see.

There are two floor boards well behind the mast. The forward one opens up to the iron bar that you would hook onto to lift the boat. The aft opening slopes back under the cockpit. It too is iron but you cannot see where it ends. I will shove my camera down there and see where it goes both aft and down. I do not think it is very deep but pics will tell the tale.

Tonight I need to do last bit of sanding and touch up fibreglass with Bottomkote XXX
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Repairs done. ready for launch may 10.
After sanding the droopy first coat of filler I elected to add another coat. I mixed it really thick and it spread glass smooth so I went ahead the next day with two coats of bottomkote XXX.

Regarding the cracks in the cockpit drain, I think I had a stroke of genius in the shower this AM. It may have been that I turned over another decade overnight and now qualify for discounted bus tickets or it could just be I have too much crap and not enough RAM to store my thoughts…

I came up with the idea of rubberized roof repair in an aerosol can. I picked up a can and sprayed 4 coats down the cockpit drain, leaving 30 minutes of cure time between each coat. Although a lot of it dripped out onto the ground now the inside of the pipe is smooth, shiny and black. Tomorrow will be the test but in theory the roof repair stays flexible so it SHOULD be ok.

I also sprayed the outside of that drain pipe from inside the cabin. I could only see about 6” of it but that was the part that I had seen the crack. Cabin smells like an asphalt plant but that should go away.
 
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