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Old 04-16-2017, 03:14 AM   #1
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Water tank recommissioning advice please.

We have owned our 38 Californian for five years. It has a large water tank amidship at the bilge area. This was abandoned by the previous owner for some reason and new twin 45 gallon water tanks were placed under the cockpit on each side of the stern.

I'd like to try to use the original tank but I am concerned as it likely hasn't been used for 20+ years for some reason? I'm concerned about sludge, bacteria, etc. The tank is fiberglass and totally enclosed.

The benifits of such would be not only an additional 100? Gallons of water, but also added ballast and seaworthiness. Suggestions and thoughts?
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Old 04-16-2017, 03:48 AM   #2
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After checking the bilge pumps are working well and the batteries are nicely charged, put some water in it and see what happens. If nothing nasty ensues,start a tank cleaning and flushing regime.
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Old 04-16-2017, 04:58 AM   #3
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Interestingly, after parusing the 'californian' section tonight, I find that leaks are a weak link in Californian LCR's water system. This is likely why the tank was abandoned. I will endeavor to find the leak but much of the 12' long tank is not accessible under the cabin floor. One remedy somebody commented on was the purchase of a bladder, which I understand are customizable.
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Old 04-16-2017, 07:53 AM   #4
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I would think if you can get to at least some of the tank you could get a blatter tank in I have used them before work good as long as no sharp things around them
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:11 AM   #5
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I would wonder why it was abandoned? I would try and get a look inside and do a pressure test first to eliminate extreme corrosion or a leak.

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Old 04-16-2017, 09:43 AM   #6
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I recently filled my water tank 1,000 gallons after a 9 year hiatus. My plan is to use it for showers, toilets and anything but drinking. I am going to instal a 100 gallon tank plumbed to the kitchen for fresh water.
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:59 AM   #7
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After checking the bilge pumps are working well and the batteries are nicely charged, put some water in it and see what happens. If nothing nasty ensues,start a tank cleaning and flushing regime.


^ this.

At the very least, you will have rinsed your bilge out. Just make sure there aren't any nasties like fuel or oil in your bilge first.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:07 AM   #8
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One possible reason the original tank was abandoned might be that it was accidentally filed with fuel. The other likely reason is that it leaks. Either of these would make the tank unusable.


I would put some water in the tank, let is sit a while and then have it tested for fuel residue. You can deal with bacteria and such but not with fuel. Next I would fill it completely and check for leaks.


I f everything checks out OK, there are procedures on the Internet for recommisioning tanks involving ordinary household bleach. Look them up.


swampu, remember it takes fuel to move weight. 1,000 gallons is a lot of water to be moving around if you don't need it.
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Old 04-17-2017, 07:38 AM   #9
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A long skinny tank under the cabin sole might have had a few holes accidentally drilled in it in the past.
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:47 PM   #10
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I would wonder why it was abandoned? I would try and get a look inside and do a pressure test first to eliminate extreme corrosion or a leak.

Ken
Be very careful about a pressure test!!! Tankage on board a vessel is never intended to be pressurized. The forces impressed on such a large surface area at any pressure greater than atmospheric are significant, and could cause structural failure!

If you want to determine if the tank is tight, close off all openings, pipe in a clear plastic hose to an elevation well above the highest point of the tank, fill the tank and monitor the hose (sight tube) over a day or two. If the level goes down, it's leaking or the piping is.
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Old 04-18-2017, 09:42 PM   #11
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I recently filled my water tank 1,000 gallons after a 9 year hiatus. My plan is to use it for showers, toilets and anything but drinking. I am going to instal a 100 gallon tank plumbed to the kitchen for fresh water.
You prob'ly don't realize that you don't have to drink water to ingest any bugs that are in it. You wash your hands in it, then pick up a sandwich...rinse out a glass with it, then fill that glass with your "safe" water...wash dishes in it, brush your teeth in it...and do you really think you can wash your face or shower in it without getting any into your eyes, ears,nose or mouth?

Bottom line: Any water that ain't safe to drink, ain't safe to use for anything but toilet flushing and washing the boat.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:03 AM   #12
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We have owned our 38 Californian for five years. It has a large water tank amidship at the bilge area. This was abandoned by the previous owner for some reason and new twin 45 gallon water tanks were placed under the cockpit on each side of the stern.
Not only are they notorious for developing leaks, but the water takes on a tank flavor after a week or so. I've sanitized mine several times and it still has a less than pleasant taste. We carry a 4 gallon plastic portable container with a spigot for drinking water and coffee.

None of us have ever gotten sick from the water, we just don't care for the flavor.
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Old 04-19-2017, 02:40 AM   #13
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My son vince and I endeavored to troubleshoot the problem on Easter afternoon. The tank is clearly leaking near as fast as it can be filled. The leak is not a result of the fittings but is somewhere that is reasonably unreachable for repair. I will Check into a possible bladder as mentioned above and also look into replacing my bad fuel tank with a new water tank in lieu there of. The remaining fuel tanks will give me a remaining fuel range of approximately 500 miles. This should be sufficient for between stops in the inside passage to Alaska or trip to Mexico, would it not?
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:40 AM   #14
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"This should be sufficient for between stops in the inside passage to Alaska or trip to Mexico, would it not?"

Plan B could be a 50 gal drum or a diesel bladder lashed in the CP for rarely used extended range
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:55 AM   #15
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My son vince and I endeavored to troubleshoot the problem on Easter afternoon. The tank is clearly leaking near as fast as it can be filled. The leak is not a result of the fittings but is somewhere that is reasonably unreachable for repair. I will Check into a possible bladder as mentioned above and also look into replacing my bad fuel tank with a new water tank in lieu there of. The remaining fuel tanks will give me a remaining fuel range of approximately 500 miles. This should be sufficient for between stops in the inside passage to Alaska or trip to Mexico, would it not?
Keep in mind that 500 gallons of fuel weighs quite a bit and if your fuel tank is outboard of the center line, this may cause a serious list. It's best if tankage is balanced so the weight is reduced evenly as you run the boat.
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Old 04-19-2017, 09:34 AM   #16
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Keep in mind that 500 gallons of fuel weighs quite a bit and if your fuel tank is outboard of the center line, this may cause a serious list. It's best if tankage is balanced so the weight is reduced evenly as you run the boat.
Exactly. It will be balanced. 250 gallons of fuel on port side, 125 gallons of fuel and 125 gallons of water on the other. (The third fuel tank is a reserve tank for both side tank.
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Old 04-19-2017, 04:09 PM   #17
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I will Check into a possible bladder as mentioned above and also look into replacing my bad fuel tank with a new water tank in lieu there of. The remaining fuel tanks will give me a remaining fuel range of approximately 500 miles. This should be sufficient for between stops in the inside passage to Alaska or trip to Mexico, would it not?
Depends on your cruise speed of course, I routinely go from Anacortes through the San Juans and Canadian Gulf Islands to Desolation Sound and return on about 375 gallons. But that includes some fishing and running the generator a couple hours each day.

Since the fuel is in the stern, separate tanks port and starboard, tank level does noticeably affect this hull. If I have the cross over closed on the tanks, just the difference of running the generator during a trip does cause a port side list. I open the crossover and the list goes away. Replacing a fuel tank with a water tank would be fine as long as you don't use the water. You're taking 1500 lbs of water off the mid point of the hull on centerline. I don't know what or if that would have any effect.

I did experiment with filling only one tank on each side and leaving the two outboard tanks empty (To turn over the diesel more often). That caused the stern to ride higher in the water at the slip and not drain off. The rain water would accumulate on the decks and (Western Washington) grow slime of course!

Maybe open up the aft cabin deck and if necessary, cut the top of the water tank open. Then seal the crack or insert a liner and fiberglass the top closed?
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:50 PM   #18
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.... The remaining fuel tanks will give me a remaining fuel range of approximately 500 miles. This should be sufficient for between stops in the inside passage to Alaska or trip to Mexico, would it not?
You should be fine. With the exception of Enshenada to Cabo, although even with the rule stop in Turtle Bay you may need a little extra. 450 mile range with a 10% reserve isn't bad for coastal cruising. Sport fishing boats do it all the time.
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:50 PM   #19
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Sam, giving up some fuel capacity for water should be a last(or thereabouts) resort imo. I`d take it step by step, first trying to get a bladder into the failed tank. If that doesn`t work, maybe yes, but think about possibilities.
My boat has std. water tanks either side of the hull, a PO installed(or ordered it) with extra tanks, one under the fwd berth, the other in the lazarette, both midline, which seem to balance each other.
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Old 04-20-2017, 06:15 AM   #20
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Thoughts,

When we built our 90/90 we installed 2 bladder tanks into each storage space.

6 x 35 gal of which ever is thought to be needed can be taken aboard.

In the Bahamas its water , in Canada its cheap fuel before we get there.
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