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Discussion Starter #1
Finally found a boat that we're serious enough about to put in an offer and get a survey, but on a second visit to the boat, discovered that the bilge had filled and 2"to 3" of water had covered the cabin sole. It was explained that something had been left on and killed the battery so the bilge pump wasn't working. We've never had a sailboat that was kept in the water, (moving up from trailer sailing) so my question is, what could have caused this to happen and is it a problem that could be dealt with. The boat is in the water and would have to be hauled out for the survey. How much water collecting in the bilge is normal?
 

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Normally no water or very little is collected...but water enters thru many places..mast holes, leaky prop shaft bearings, rotten hoses, rain, shroud/chainplate holes etc...even a hole in the hull...yoiu need to see where it is coming from, first..surely nothing serious.

I have a dry keel box, but my engine compartment is allways wet because of rain water..I installed a pump there but there is allways a little, no worries, I dry it with a sponge before sailing...

Having 2 or 3 inches water is a lot, but it depends on how long a period of time that collected...1 day to a week is bad, one year not so bad....

Normally the damage to sumberged soles is that they soak with water and the wood expansion damages the wood cracking and staining it...
 

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The source of water should be the main concern. The water can penetrate from bottom as well as from the top. There is always a method to overcome both of them but it might be costly. The current owner either didnot care for the water and installed a bilge pump or the cost of repair was too high.

What ever the reason te water in a boat should not be as high as you mention in a short period of timen. Although it is possible to overcome this problem with a aıtomatic bilge pump as is the case, they always fail one way or the other.

The surveyor should survey the boat in the water and on the dry. In this way the surveyor will find the reason for water in the bilge and probably give you a good estimate for the repair job.
 

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The surveyor's mandate is to report that the problem exists, not diagnose the cause.
About the only good reason for water in the bilge is the slow drip from the stuffing box, if so equipped. That is measured in drops, so it would take a long time for that much to accumulate. Water weeps through a boat so the place where you see it is rarely how it got in. All the places mentioned to look at are good ones, but to me this raises a bigger question and a red flag:

Obviously the boat was left unattended at the dock for a long time, otherwise the water would have been dealt with. Most people (brokers included) are pretty proactive about getting and keeping standing water out of a boat they're trying to sell, because it never looks good to a potential buyer. Therefore, what else has seen equal neglect ? Right way I'd be checking stuff like heat exchangers, zincs, fuel, etc...all stuff that we ought to check anyway but often don't.

A survey and caveat emptor are the rule here I think...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess the only way to find out is to go ahead with the survey, but since the boat is listed with a broker and the owner is local, it was alarming, especially to my wife, to see that so much water had gotten into the boat, probably in a relatively short period of time.the owner might be relying on the bilge pump to keep the water out instead of dealing with a repair, but otherwise the boat was very nicely maintained and had alot of upgrades. thanks for you input, i appreciate it.
 

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Though water has surely been pumped out ,would be wise to determine how it got in before boat gets hauled,that is very simple detective work.Iwould be equally concerned about problems caused by fresh? salt? water immersion.If sole is plywood can take long time to dry out areas that can't drain may never dry out.A good surveyor in your area would be happy to talk you through your next steps
 

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something had been left on and killed the battery so the bilge pump wasn't working
I'd bet the "something left on" WAS the bilge pump and IT killed the battery, there is no good nor reasonable cause for a boat to accumulate that much water without something being WRONG to make it leak ALOT from one side or the other. (Top or Bottom ;) )
 

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not to veer off topic,mentioned 'detective work' because someone should want to figure out now how the water got in-esp. since its easy to do if boat stays in water and all underwater openings can be checked.don't back away from boat because water got in it -but be sure water did no damage that you will inherit .[not going to list what to check ,is there an abbrev iation for 'i dont want to insult anyone's intelligence?]
 

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water, water

Two years ago I bought a Pearson 31 that had been neglected
for years and had evidence of standing water a few inches deep.
Water had come in thru the keel stepped mast from some uncovered
halyard cut outs. Several leaking ports also. The bilge pump had
run down the battery and since no one checked...
A good survey is important. I had some concern about the keel bolts
and since there was still a bit of water in the bilge, the surveyor didn't
really look at them. When I finally got the bilge dry there was some
serious corrosion on a couple of them. I took the sole up, laminated
teak/holly and refinished them. Also cleaned out the bilge real well.
Check any wiring too. If the boat is sound otherwise, it's mainly
a lot of labor. I have no regrets, got a great boat at a good price.
Joe
 

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"How much water collecting in the bilge is normal?"
Condensate and shaft log leakage, at the most. Sadly there is often more from leakage and the bilge pumps (plural) should be able to keep that down to 1/2" or less, whatever their sump level is.
It could be something as simple as a worn stuffing box, which is a sign of neglect, or leaking deck fittings, which is a sign of a bigger issue since those leaks can rot out the deck core or hull core.
So you've got at least two issues to look into. One, why didn't the bilge pumps work, was it just someone who was sloppy and forgot to shut other loads? Two, where's the leak, and what else has it affected. Including any damage to the flooring laminates or wiring near the floor, any mold if they don't get it dried out ASAP, and so on. Could just be a split in a cockpit drain hose and one rain/ice storm, easily remedied. Could be.

If it was a one-shot it could be nothing--but to me 3" of water says a LOT of leakage for too long a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Whether the problem was neglecting an expensive repair or something like a split cockpit drain hose coupled with some heavy rains, (which we have had in the past few weeks) Another inspection trip to the boat is in my plans. i'm not ready to walk away from the boat because it otherwise seems to have been maintained well. It just had a new diesel engine put in a few years ago. I'll have to try to figure it out.The broker isn't offering any information
 
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