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Old 03-18-2015, 09:08 AM   #1
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False Bilge?

Hello all. I started a new thread because I had no idea what title to research this under. I have a 1989 Heritage East 44 (Nova) with three sumps along the centerline for bilge pumps. I noticed the forward one was getting water in it and had to be pumped about once every three days toward the end of summer. Since the other sumps where not filling and they are near the running gear I assumed it was a leak in the forward fresh water tank or lines and knowing it would be on land for the winter I left it until then. I just went to remove the float switch and pump to replace them and when I pulled the screws from the floor of the sump water started to gush up through the holes into the sump from what I thought was a solid fiberglass keel. I believe there is an air gap between the floor of the sump and the top of the top of the fiberglass keel. I was under the impression that the fiberglass was solid up to the bottom of the sump but I may be wrong. I then thought the water came in from dripping shafts while in the water and entered the middle sump where I had taken out the float switch (not sealing the holes) and put in a self contained automatic pump. I thought the shaft drippings came into this sump and dripped into the gap area and eventually was high enough to be above the floor of the most forward, and lowest, sump area. But now that it is on land and is filling up the one sump but not the other I do not think I was correct. Now I am wondering if I should open the floor of the sump and put a bilge pump down below the floor nearer the keel or try to foam in the gap and continue with the way it was originally made, or just re-glass the floor of the sumps, leaving the air gap, and assume it will not happen again. I am pretty confident of my abilities but his one threw me! No one at my marina (Worton Creek on the Chesapeake) had seen this before so I am trying to figure this on my own and can use any thoughts on this. Thanks, John
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:21 AM   #2
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If it were me I would open it up, if nothing else to understand what you have. I don't like assuming it will not happen again so I would want to make sure there is a way to get any standing water out. Even if you put a small round access cover on it. The trick will be to open this area without accidentally going into the hull.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:40 AM   #3
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Thanks. I can, and plan to, open a hole about 8" X 8" to inspect and dry out the area. I also want to see how long it is and if it goes under the other sumps or does the bulkhead separate them. The bottom of the sump is about two foot by one foot and I would start with a small hole to poke wire through to make sure of the depth before I use anything that could poke the hull. While there I was thinking of trying to place a pump down there so that I know for sure that I am draining the water from the lowest part of the boat. I don't mind the water while it is in the water as it may be a weight penalty but it also should make it steadier in rough water. I am afraid that he water in the winter, on land, may freeze and do some damage if it is not taken out.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:46 AM   #4
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I have seen at least one other thread not too long ago concerning the same issue.
I'd suggest searching...
My recollection is that some keels or keel / hull interfaces have cavities that can hold water. These need to be addressed if you are in the north as freezing can certainly create problems.
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Old 03-18-2015, 11:58 AM   #5
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(Some) Grand Banks had hollow keels filled with ballast. My 32's keel filled regularly but GB provided a capped hose that could be used to pump in out. My solution was the stem - it had a stainless rub strip screwed vertically to the stem and one or two screws had fallen out. When the boat was underway, the bow wave forced water into the stem which gradually filled the keel. Removed the strip, sealed all the holes and drilled new ones with bigger screws - dry keel. Check your stem.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:57 PM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. jt. If at all possible I would start my investigative drilling at the point above where the keel is the deepest which I suspect may be the aft end. You MAY have a hollow keel and if so, I would leave it as such with an appropriate water tight inspection port so you could pump out that area if necessary. IF you fill it with foam or whatever, any water that does collect in there will become inaccessible and could cause problems as mentioned, if it freezes.
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Old 03-18-2015, 01:03 PM   #7
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I know there are a few down east boats out there that allow the keel to fill with water for ballast. On these boats the water drains automatically when hauled.
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Old 03-18-2015, 02:00 PM   #8
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Keels intentionally filled with sea water? That would be quite a science project in there.
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Old 03-18-2015, 02:14 PM   #9
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Keels intentionally filled with sea water? That would be quite a science project in there.
You could turn it into a live bait well!

if you get lemons, make....
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Old 03-18-2015, 03:54 PM   #10
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You can buy a Rigid Seesnake which is a video camera on a flexible snake that has a light and will fit in a 1 inch hole. Then look inside from a small hole rather than a large hole.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:18 PM   #11
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Greetings,
Mr. Tucker. Thinking outside the box as usual. EXCELLENT suggestion but one can purchase a unit at Harbor Freight for less. Search results for: 'inspection camera'
On sale now.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:49 PM   #12
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I noticed the same thing happening in my shower sump that sits between the engines. I was cleaning all the crud and water left by the previous owner (nice!) and removed all the water only to find it was filling again. I looked closer and there were a couple of tiny holes in the bottom and water was trickling back into the sump. So somewhere there was a higher water level in the keel area and I had caused unequal pressure and it was equalizing. I'm guessing the keel is at least partially hollow? I don't like the idea of keeping extra stagnant water on board.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:50 PM   #13
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I have a very hollow keel, which may be filled with water or not (it was when I bought it). But it is not open to the bilge, yet water may transfer back and forth.

There is also a hollow under the center bilge pump sump. It's about an inch airspace that is usually filled with water...who knows where that is coming from and how to stop it.

These boats were so poorly constructed in China and many previous owners are either clueless, careless or just too carefree to properly maintain a boat. Struggling where all the holes are and where the water is coming from could be a decade or more of problem solving for me.

When I ground a large hole very low in my keel chasing bad fiberglass I wound up buying a small boroscope type camera from Harbor Freight as I figured it would get plenty of use on this kind of boat....it did and continues to do so. I also use it to look at my prop and shaft zinc as it is waterproof and just barely long enough from the swim platform.

Good luck
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:23 PM   #14
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Had a similar issue with our boat.

In our case, the ballast is cement. Due to whatever cause (water intrusion?), the top couple of inches of cement deteriorated, crumbled and settled and provided a space for water to sit in/on. A couple of Maine winters freezing what water was on top of and in the ballast (the boat came from Florida) and the layer of gelcoated glass and wood covering the ballast cracked open in several places, including in the forward and aft bilge sumps, which allowed more water in. Could never seem to dry out the sumps.

We opened up the cracked areas. We then drilled a hole outside at the lowest aft point of the keel into the ballast and installed a bronze garboard drain fitting. Water seeped freely from it for at least two weeks. We then dried out the top of the cement (using heat and fans) as best we could before repairing the covering.

Now when the boat is hauled each year for the season we remove the plug.

Three years down the line and hardly any water seeps from the drain (maybe a thimbleful, if that) and the repairs remain intact with no sign of upwelling water anywhere in the bilge.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:27 PM   #15
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John,

I think Dave is right. Open it up to see what you have. It is what we had to do. Upon opening it the stink was overwhelming. I washed it out with bleach and drilled a hole through the keel to let it drain which it did for about a week.

I should have put in the drain like Dave but did not. Filled the cavity with concrete and glassed over all.

Rob
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:55 PM   #16
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The Monk 36 has a hollow keel there is an inspection cover which can be opened to have a look inside, mine so far is dry. There have been a few cases where water has entered through the prop shaft tube and into the keel.
I have read of the same in several other makes of boats as well, as mentioned in previous posts some people have put in a drain plug and let the water out when hauled, some have put narrow bilge pumps down into the keel or a hose to pump out the water.
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Old 03-18-2015, 10:45 PM   #17
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I have a Present 42- and there is a hollow cavity below the bilge "floor". A few years ago I carefully cut an access square and vacuumed the old stale water out. The keel looks to be solid FG. Soon after I used an aluminum bracket bolted to the original bilge floor to support my primary bilge pump down in the hole. This works fine.


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Old 03-19-2015, 03:50 AM   #18
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I know there are a few down east boats out there that allow the keel to fill with water for ballast. On these boats the water drains automatically when hauled.

Tell me that it's not April Fools day already. Small boats like wake boarding etc pump in/out to increase wake size but not aware of any trawler vessels that use sea water on purpose for ballast

Back to question: Before you cut to deep drill a small pilot hole and insert a boroscope camera it may give you a much clearer idea of what's going on without causing a lot of glass work.
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Old 03-19-2015, 09:18 AM   #19
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First question to ask when encountering water inside the boat (assuming you don't boat only in freshwater) is is it seawater or fresh?
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Old 03-19-2015, 09:45 PM   #20
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First question to ask when encountering water inside the boat (assuming you don't boat only in freshwater) is is it seawater or fresh?
Don't do the "taste test" like I used to do to find out which, till I has a battery electrolyte leak and dipped my finger into it then tasted it! I got a burn on my lip and tounge, like firewater!
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