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Old 05-23-2020, 08:59 AM   #1
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Keel Full of Water

A first post for me, and a thank-you to all others who post their issues and solutions - I have learned a lot since signing up last year.
Short Story: My issue and concern: 1989 full-displacement 37ft Heritage East we bought last year is still up on the hard from winter storage. Last week-end we siphoned up 100 litres/25 gallons of water out of the keel, and expect we've another 100-200 litres to go. Hoping the wisdom of this Forum is that this is not a normal/intended condition and we should keep siphoning.
Longer Story: St-Lawrence/1000 Islands area, in the water last summer went to replace a seized aft sump/bilge shower pump and defective float switch. When approx 1/2 screws attaching both to the bottom of the sump were removed water started to percolate up into the sump from below. Though certain all was centered over the keel I decided not to mess around and quickly installed the new pump and float switch picking up the same fastener holes. Deal with it in the spring on the hard when there won't be any water to enter through these holes. Wrong. This spring after 6 months out of the water, when the fasteners were again removed, the sump again fills with clear clean water (boat is resting stern-low which would assist water flow out of the keel). Stuck a wire into the holes, and though the screws were only 1/2 inch a 12 inch wire disappears into keel area.
The theory I am proceeding with is, no water drained out of the keel over the winter, so water entry is from above somewhere. There is no evidence of pink anti-freeze which all plumbing in the boat is filled with each fall. So am proceeding on the hunch that some previous owner (inadvertantly) drilled these holes through the hull into the keel, let the keel fill with shower sump water, before plugging said holes with shower sump pump and float switch. Not exceedingly comfortable with this hypothesis - but that is what I am going with as I continue to spihon the water out.
Chris.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:38 AM   #2
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Might be hard to find. Especially since you are floating in fresh water so the source of ingress (above or below) can't be guessed by taste.

Even higher end builders make this mistake: seal the keel area assuming it will stay dry, then drill holes into it to mount something. Water in the keel in my boat, probably leaked through screws intended to hold the bilge pump and switch, no access plate to remove or dry. Building closed compartments into a boat with no access and expecting them to stay dry forever is a fools errand.

I sealed the holes with epoxy (after overdrilling them to get to clean glass). Anything that needed to be mounted on the keel covering was fastened with blind fasteners - no through holes (there are several ways to do this). Then drilled a larger access hole that could take a suction tube from a pump to get rid of the water, and monitor any further entry. That hole plugged with an expanding plug (like for a dinghy drain) when not being accessed.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:58 AM   #3
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Thanks DDW, we're thinking alike.
My tech-savvy son used a Google search engine to advise he found related posts 8-9 years ago:
https://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/...keel-5488.html
https://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/...keel-4704.html
I think I will just drain for this season, seal these obvious holes, and reassess in the Fall if it has filled up again (from somewhere else). If it has filled again there must be other holes in the other two sumps, or worse a crack somewhere leading into the keel. As it gets way below zero here in the winter, I want the keel empty, or I will fill with anti-freeze if I don't install a drain into the keel.
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:12 PM   #4
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Do you have a garboard plug in the keel? If you had water in there all winter you might look for cracks, that might be a source too. Some GBs had a capped hose in the bilge to hook to a pump for draining.
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:23 PM   #5
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Are you sure its not designed as a "Wet keel" boat? Lots of Downeast boats are designed this way. I'm not sure if the Heritage is one, but worth investigating.
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:02 PM   #6
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interesting reading regarding "wet keels"


https://www.downeastboatforum.com/th...wet-keel.4502/
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:07 PM   #7
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I don't have a covered hollow keel.

I don't use screws either. I make a fiberglass angle about 1.5" x 1.5" and then epoxy that to the hull.

Then whatever I want to secure I make a fiberglass platform, L shape also, to hold the pump and then I bolt the pump platform to the L secured to the hull.

No holes. It doesn't take a great huge amount of epoxy to secure the first L to the hull.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:19 AM   #8
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard eh? As mentioned above, IF water has been in there all winter and frozen, check VERY carefully for cracks.
Since you have not found the source for the leakage yet, it may be to your advantage to drill a larger seal-able hole in the area to allow the keel to be easily pumped out especially before next (brrr...) winter.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:24 AM   #9
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" if I don't install a drain into the keel. "

Low cost , and works 100% of the time.

I know of one boat that had a failure of the cockpit drain hose , filled the bilge and engine with water.

Replaced engine, BIG expense!
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:33 AM   #10
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My story is in the second referenced thread above. Haven't had any water drain out since I did the repair.
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:46 AM   #11
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Thank-you for the feedback; remain leery to install a solution (particularly drilling a drain into the lower keel) when the root cause is not yet identified.
Will do an extra carefull inspection of the keel area today for any signs of external cracks or discolouration.
I have prepared fiberglassed blocks to install into the base of the sump so no more pump/float switch holes penetrate into the hull. Though these blocks will cover the holes I believe to be the source of the water into the keel, they are also the holes I am presently using to siphon the water from the keel.
When we come out of the water in the fall I will drill a new larger hole through the sump into the keel and see what I find - full again (problem is elsewhere), or empty. If full again, a lower keel drain it will likely be.
Though other threads discussed the benefits of ballasting a hollow keel, I don't see a few hundred pounds of water making an appreciable difference beyond the twin diesels, generator, fuel, and water already low in the boat.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CPD View Post
I will drill a new larger hole through the sump into the keel and see what I find
That. You have to get in there and see what's going on.

After that, even if you think you find the source, if it's closed in you will not know when it fills again. Inaccessible space in a boat is bad. Not sure what it all looks like, but a water proof inspection plate so you can peek in there once in a while is what I would do. Doesn't have to be huge, 2" would be plenty. Then if there's water you stick a pump in there.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:55 AM   #13
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I say get it all out and try to find any possible entrance points and seal them. Freezing water inside the keel cannot be a good thing. I had a similar problem on my boat. Holes drilled for mounting pumps and later relocated and the holes not properly filled allowed water into the space between the bilge and keel. I found this out because it would occasionally come back UP into my normally dry bilge area and boy did that water stink. At first I thought l might have a sewage leak. My keel is not hollow (it’s filled with something) but there is a some space (maybe 1-3 inches) between the bilge floor and the “filling”. I also ended up making a 5/8” hole to allow a tube to be put down there to suck out all the water. I got about 5 gallons. Then sealed all holes with epoxy. It’s easy enough that I may very well reopen that 5/8 hole and see if it’s still free of water. I do know that I have no cracks inside or out and with twin engines have nothing passing through the keel that could be leaking.

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Old 05-29-2020, 03:56 PM   #14
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If water seeps up when screws are removed, it suggests it’s under pressure, possible due to the positive head between the water level outside and the elevation of the bilge. If the water originated from inside the boat, it wouldn’t be under pressure in the keel. I have a Monk that had a leak in the stern tube. The keel would fill with water and find its way into the bilge where ever it could. You might want to check if this is a problem at all on Heritage East trawlers. Also search for any cracks in the keel where water could enter. I would definitely install a garboard plug so you can drain all the water out of the keel, especially for winter storage.

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Old 05-29-2020, 04:00 PM   #15
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Water in the keel void is not necessarily a bad thing, just make sure you don't leave it there over winter. I have an Albin 40, single engine with a fairly big keel. I too discovered a number of years ago that the keel void was filled with water, probably from screw holes like in your situation but as one responder said, water will probably always find a way into air filled spaces below the water line. To deal with it I just installed a drain plus near the bottom of the keel and then I drilled a 1" hole a low point in the bottom of the bilge and installed another plug there. The purpose of the bilge hole is to let air in to speed up the process of draining the keel after haulout. It also provides a convenient way of adding some plumbers antifreeze to the keel because it's difficult to drain all the water out. So what are the positives? First, a flooded keel adds a little more stability with that weight so deep in the boat - not a lot but still. Secondly, I find it very convenient when I'm draining water lines into the bilge to pull the bilge plug and open the external keel plug so this water just drains onto the ground keeping my bilge dry. I keep my bilge very clean plus there are catchment pans under the engine and generator so there's no oily water in my bilge so what drains out onto the ground is nothing but clean water. Whatever you decide to do, definitely install the keel plug and make draining it part of your winterization process.
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Old 05-29-2020, 04:37 PM   #16
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I had a crack in my copper stern tube which leaked water into keel. Keel was glass over timber. I was also concerned with possibility of osmosis from inside out. Replaced stern tube with fibreglass tube and modern seals all glassed in place with 8 litres of resin �� Drilled drainage holes and weeks drying out with warm air.
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Old 05-29-2020, 06:03 PM   #17
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My preference is for a dry keel.


In my case, water entered the hollow keel through a leak in the rudder skeg fastenings which are through-bolted into the keel.

The water was removed by hose/pump using an access hole drilled in the bilge bottom which was later capped with a gasketed deck fitting (which allows periodic inspection). The water intrusion solution was to remove the skeg, clean and reapply sealant.

Haven't seen any water since 2006 even though the skeg has been removed several times, just very careful about resealing.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:21 PM   #18
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Performed a close inspection of the entire keel this past weekend with no signs of any cracks or possible water entry points. Pumped out a final 10 gallons or so for a total of about 35 gallons of smelly but otherwise clean water. Will seal it up for this boating season then open again in the fall to inspect (create an access hole through the bilge). If water is back I will install a drain at the base of the keel.
As we are a twin, the prop shafts and rudder skegs are outboard of the keel, as is the bilge garboard drain - there is no intentional penetration of the keel that I can find. The water pressure we were experiencing is likely that the boat, not yet launched yet from winter, is sitting stern low whereby gravity was working its magic.
The power of the TF community - one's issue is rarely the first occurrence, lots of good experienced recommendations. Thanks.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:21 PM   #19
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Keel full of water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CPD View Post
A first post for me, and a thank-you to all others who post their issues and solutions - I have learned a lot since signing up last year.
Short Story: My issue and concern: 1989 full-displacement 37ft Heritage East we bought last year is still up on the hard from winter storage. Last week-end we siphoned up 100 litres/25 gallons of water out of the keel, and expect we've another 100-200 litres to go. Hoping the wisdom of this Forum is that this is not a normal/intended condition and we should keep siphoning.
Longer Story: St-Lawrence/1000 Islands area, in the water last summer went to replace a seized aft sump/bilge shower pump and defective float switch. When approx 1/2 screws attaching both to the bottom of the sump were removed water started to percolate up into the sump from below. Though certain all was centered over the keel I decided not to mess around and quickly installed the new pump and float switch picking up the same fastener holes. Deal with it in the spring on the hard when there won't be any water to enter through these holes. Wrong. This spring after 6 months out of the water, when the fasteners were again removed, the sump again fills with clear clean water (boat is resting stern-low which would assist water flow out of the keel). Stuck a wire into the holes, and though the screws were only 1/2 inch a 12 inch wire disappears into keel area.
The theory I am proceeding with is, no water drained out of the keel over the winter, so water entry is from above somewhere. There is no evidence of pink anti-freeze which all plumbing in the boat is filled with each fall. So am proceeding on the hunch that some previous owner (inadvertantly) drilled these holes through the hull into the keel, let the keel fill with shower sump water, before plugging said holes with shower sump pump and float switch. Not exceedingly comfortable with this hypothesis - but that is what I am going with as I continue to spihon the water out.
Chris.
I had similar issue. It would be good if you could call me. Thanks 208-709-8184,,I'm on pacific time
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:49 PM   #20
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We had a Trojan F32 with a hollow keel. The boat had a smell that I thought was due to the head system and it turned out to be water trapped in the hollow keel. When I opened it the smell was worse than the holding tank.
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