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Chasing bow leaks on E 38

Ralph Hewitt

Member II
Drain plug in anchor well Plugged, pan with lots of water.
With windlass mounted there and foot switch too seems they both leak. Wires carry water back through bluckhead hole and it runs down hull under V- berth to area under drawers slowly leaking out into wood sides and under cabin sole.
To remove windlass and switch do I pull the full Pan?
Cannot find or see any bolts or backing from underneath in the peak. Any post on this to remove the anchor pan?


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Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
That anchor locker looks exactly like the one on many model Ericsons. The anchor locker will need to come out, and it's a doable job. There are many screws which are fairly easy to remove, but there is caulking under the lip of the anchor, which can be frustrating to get loose. Best is a 1" putty knife, slowly working your way under there, with a heat gun to help soften it. Then it just lifts out, giving access to the wiring, rebedding cleats, replacing the drain hose, etc.
I did it all in an afternoon a few years ago, and there are lots of threads on this site from others doing it too.

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I pulled my pan recently to replace the drain hose and fittings.

To initially break caulk, some scraper tool with a narrow, all-metal 90-degree edge is useful. That can be worked into the small opening between pan flange and deck and then maneuvered sideways. Once an area of caulk yields, pry bars can be inserted to force the rest.

I used caulk softener too, which helped. It's a patience job, you just gotta believe.

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Member III
I also have an Ericson 38 which is moored in Falmouth, Maine. Portland Yacht Club runs Thursday Night beer can races from June through late September.
We had a Nor’easter blowing for a couple days, so I hadn’t been to my boat for several days before the final race. The wind blew to 40 knots and we had a lot of rain and a short, steep chop at my mooring, which regularly put water over the bow and over the anchor locker.

Usually the first thing I do when I get to my boat is check and drain the bilge if necessary, start the engine, and then drop the mooring and put the sails up. But because I was late getting to my boat this final race afternoon, I decided I didn't need to check the bilge-- which had been pretty dry all summer-- and instead, immediately started the engine, dropped the mooring line, and headed directly to the start line, while my sole crew member removed the sail cover and began hoisting the mainsail.
When I put my boat in gear, I noticed that she was barely responding to the throttle and was really slow to steering input. I looked behind the stern several times to see if I was dragging one of the many lobster traps placed around my mooring, but nothing was there. I then thought it was probably just the accumulation of a summer's barnacles and muscles attached to the bottom. The slow speed bothered me so I checked the prop wake again, but it seemed ok, and I simply couldn’t figure out the problem. I kept looking to the start line, and realized we missed our start, but only by a minute or so. Because there were only two of us on board, neither of us went below from the time we hit the start line until we rounded the windward mark, some 2 miles distant. We were focusing on sail trim and speed, or the lack of it. At this first mark, I could not help but notice that we were unusually slow compared to the rest of the fleet, and again kept checking to see if we were dragging something. Usually we catch and pass the slower cruising class boats, but today, they passed us. Again, I saw nothing in the water behind us, assumed the bottom was really dirty, being late in the season, and sent my crew below to get some beers for the relaxing downwind leg.

She came back up with the beers, but then told me that she saw water splashing over and through the floor boards, and asked me if that was normal? WHAT??? NO! Not Normal! I panicked as any good captain would, scrambled below, checked the bilge and saw that water was lapping at the floor boards, and immediately turned on the bilge pump. I didn’t have an auto bilge pump switch at that time, as there was not one installed when I purchased the boat, and the bilge had always been pretty dry. We also started pumping with the whale gusher. I then guzzled my beer as any good captain would, and started the engine to ensure that the pump had plenty of power, and kept it running in case we needed to withdraw from the race and head back to the marina. I crawled around and checked every through-hull, starting from the stern, and the prop shaft, but couldn’t find any leaking. I checked a second time and a third time. This was puzzling to say the least. We continued racing and when we approached the finish line near the yacht club, we could see that the water level in the bilge water, after more than 25 minutes, was finally down to nothing.

When I got back to my mooring, I had another beer, or two(?) and was still trying to figure out why my bilge was overflowing, and casually walked around the deck and opened the anchor locker on the foredeck, and to my surprise, it was full of water. I then remembered that I had cut an access hole just below the foredeck, the year before, to allow access to fix the bow light and bow rail. It was about 3 inches high by 4 inches wide to allow my hand and forearm under the deck, and I simply never got around to repairing it. WOW! I then realized that the Nor'easter we had for 2 days, had splashed water over the foredeck, and along with accumulated rain water and a blocked drain hole in the anchor locker, had filled the anchor locker until it sent the water below. The drain on the anchor locker was filled with sand and paint chips which allowed the problem to exist. I now regularly check my anchor locker first, along with the bilge, every time I get on my boat, before I go sailing, to make sure there are no small issues that could lead to larger issues. I have already installed a waterproof access hatch cover to eliminate the hole in the anchor locker I created the year before, and also installed an automatic bilge pump switch.


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Member III
On my 35-3, I had a bad leak in the forward v-berth that I traced to the shallow anchor locker in the bow. Since I was going to alter the anchor pan substantially to put in a Windless. This is what I found after the relatively easy job of removing 2/3 of the pan permanently and then the final 3rd which I was going to keep, to uncover the area of leakiness.


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