Sea water in bilge

Bolo

Sustaining Member
“Sea water in bilge.” How many times has that phrase or something like it been written in these forums but that’s essentially what I have, sea water in my bilge. Not much mind you and it’s not filling up. It’s just there and the bilge was bone dry when I started sailing this morning. On a E32-3 the factory installed five bilge covers. The first, from bow to stern, is the mast/shower bilge, separate from the “main” bilge and it’s almost always wet because rain comes down the mast and into it and there’s nothing to be done about that, trust me. The other four bilge openings were dry. All four are part of the same main bilge. Bilges one, which has the bilge pump in it, and two were wet after I sailed 20 miles to another marina with bilge one having the most water, about 1/4 inch, bilge two with a lot less. The other three bilge opening, going to the stern were dry. When I tasted the water in bilge one it was salty or as salty as water gets on the Chesapeake Bay. My sail today was an easy one with most of it wing on wing or with just the Genoa and a whisker pole. That’s how light the winds were and the seas in the Chesapeake bay were very calm. So no ruff sailing at all but we were heeled a bit coming out of Annapolis when we were close hauled. This is when I think the sea water got in by way of the through hull in the stern.

We did run the motor to get in and out of slips but the dripless shaft seal was dry and no water was present in bilge openings three and four just two and three. So I’m thinking that when heeled over some sea water got in through the bilge hose exit in the stern over hang. Maybe it dips into the water when heeled enough to go below the water??? Then it ran forward to the bilge pump, backwards though the pump and into the main bilge. All the other observations, IMO, say the sea water could have come from no place else. I have plans to install a diaphragm pump, replacing the existing rotary pump and it would be position in the stern. I did the same thing for the shower/mast pump in the first bilge opening to keep water from back filling into the bilge after it stops. Diaphragm pumps can act like one way valve in that way.

Has anyone experienced sea water backfilling though a rotary bilge pump after or during a sail? I guess I could ask put a loop in the line to prevent water getting in through the through hull but that seems like it might cause a problem for the pump.

BE44ACD9-10DE-4CAC-9ED2-DB15D9DC9524.jpeg
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Just a suggestion from over on the other coast, if I may. IF your boat has a "rotary" bilge pump, chuck it forcefully, with malice, over the side. Install a positive displacement pump like the factory installation in our '88. Our boat came with two model 37202 series pumps. Reliable and do not back flood or air lock. They have gone up a lot in price the last several years, so look around for a friend with a wholesale account. (!)
Rule centrifugal pumps are inexpensive, and for good reason. :(

Long shot, but is it possible to observe or verify any seepage around an OEM installed keel bolt? How about a thru hull valve, backing plate, or hose in the forward head?
 

Bolo

Sustaining Member
Just a suggestion from over on the other coast, if I may. IF your boat has a "rotary" bilge pump, chuck it forcefully, with malice, over the side. Install a positive displacement pump like the factory installation in our '88. Our boat came with two model 37202 series pumps. Reliable and do not back flood or air lock. They have gone up a lot in price the last several years, so look around for a friend with a wholesale account. (!)
Rule centrifugal pumps are inexpensive, and for good reason. :(

Long shot, but is it possible to observe or verify any seepage around an OEM installed keel bolt? How about a thru hull valve, backing plate, or hose in the forward head?
Yes I do intend to get rid of the centrifugal (I called them rotary) pump because the diaphragm pump although much larger and it wouldn’t fit in the bilge where the centrifugal pump lives, can go in the stern near the through hull where it works the best. And BTW, I had the shower diaphragm pump freeze up completely once when my boat was on the hard and I unfroze it but pouring heated antifreeze (the pink stuff) into the bilge to defrost it. No damage and is still working a few years after that incident. I could be the keel bolts but I doubt it because there has been no leakage at the dock. Only through hull to that bilge is the one to drain it and nothing from the head could possibly get in the bilge. Time to buy that diaphragm pump I think. Been putting it off too long.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
FWIW, the Jabsco pumps are Not meant to be bilge mounted. And they include a corse screen filter for the hose leading from the bilge, with a strum box on that hose in your bilge. Our boat has both of the Jabsco pumps located under the aft berth. IIRC those are 3/4" hoses. Each of ours has its own float switch. As Christian points out, any of these pumps are best at removing nuisance water and at best will slow the accumulation of major flooding while the crew finds and staunches the new leakage.
That said, we have wood plugs secured by lanyards by each thruhull, and then hope never to need them. :(
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Check your anchor locker drain hose. Put a hose into the anchor locker and assure all the water is pouring out the stem. (On my 32-3 there was no way of eyeballing the hose connections, since the forward bulkhead was fixed.)

Similar with cockpit drain hoses. They can have hidden cracks which allow rainwater direct to bilge.

Other than that, consider a leak in the water tankage or fresh water plumbing, or mast water from rain that got caught in the TAFG and was released when sailing.

Mystery bilge water can take months or years to identify, and to my mind the thing to do is keep monitoring it and do nothing until evidence convinces the jury something is actually wrong. It is certainly puzzling in the meantime, especially since the Chesapeake is brackish re taste tests.

Wait, Bob? You found 1/4 inch of water in the bilge? Really? Did I read that right? That is not a leak, that is boat sweat.
 
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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
As the Victorians supposedly said: Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow. Of course their yachts were all maintained by paid crew...
:)
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
Have you checked the TAFG compartment forward of bilge #1 where the first keel bolt sits. You likely have to go in through the forward bench seat after removing an inspection plate in the "floor."

I've had standing water in this area from time to time. Any time the TAFG fills to a certain water level this area can take on water. When you pump the bilges & TAFG dry, water stays trapped there but can flow back out during pitching & heeling.
 

cdesopo

Member II
I agree with Christian. We get water in through the anchor locker drain on our 32-3 as well. We pulled the locker & reinstalled the drain tube to make sure it was well attached on the bottom. That was fun. It was attached to the tub well so that wasn't the cause of the leak. I've concluded whatever they used to bond the tube to the hull is long gone. Go sailing then look under the v-berth & see a tiny stream passing the transducers. Cover the drain on the outside with some marine duct tape & go sailing - dry bilge stays dry (we love our dripless!). I think some sealant is needed.

We'll get to it after our rigging is done. Low priority right now...
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
Yeah, and the first collection point from an anchor locker drain leak might likely be that same TAFG section that houses the first keel bolt.
 

Kenneth K

1985 32-3, Puget Sound
Blogs Author
Bilges one, which has the bilge pump in it, and two were wet after I sailed 20 miles to another marina with bilge one having the most water, about 1/4 inch, bilge two with a lot less. The other three bilge opening, going to the stern were dry.
If bilge #1 were truly separate from the other four (as you claim), it could not have salt water in it unless the salt water level in the TAFG got as high as the plumping conduit pipes or wiring holes in that compartment. Or, a keel bolt in that bilge is leaking.

Btw, the original Ericson bilge hoses do have a bit of loop in them at the stern--the hoses comes up straight from the thru-hulls, then loop up and aft to the transom, where the hoses then go below the TAFG. The thru-hulls would have to be submerged by several inches (5-6?? or more) before water could backflow into the bilges.
 
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Bolo

Sustaining Member
FWIW, the Jabsco pumps are Not meant to be bilge mounted. And they include a corse screen filter for the hose leading from the bilge, with a strum box on that hose in your bilge. Our boat has both of the Jabsco pumps located under the aft berth. IIRC those are 3/4" hoses. Each of ours has its own float switch. As Christian points out, any of these pumps are best at removing nuisance water and at best will slow the accumulation of major flooding while the crew finds and staunches the new leakage.
That said, we have wood plugs secured by lanyards by each thruhull, and then hope never to need them. :(
Yes, I know they are not meant for bilge mounting. The Jabsco 37202 bilge pump I installed is located in the stern compartment just under the taffrail. I also installed a strainer and clear hose the goes down to the bottom of the bilge but cut at a slight angle so water can enter. No room for a strum box in the mast/shower bilge. I have a collection of plugs too along with a hammer dedicated for pounding the, in and for us against unauthorized boarders.
 

Bolo

Sustaining Member
Check your anchor locker drain hose. Put a hose into the anchor locker and assure all the water is pouring out the stem. (On my 32-3 there was no way of eyeballing the hose connections, since the forward bulkhead was fixed.)

Similar with cockpit drain hoses. They can have hidden cracks which allow rainwater direct to bilge.

Other than that, consider a leak in the water tankage or fresh water plumbing, or mast water from rain that got caught in the TAFG and was released when sailing.

Mystery bilge water can take months or years to identify, and to my mind the thing to do is keep monitoring it and do nothing until evidence convinces the jury something is actually wrong. It is certainly puzzling in the meantime, especially since the Chesapeake is brackish re taste tests.

Wait, Bob? You found 1/4 inch of water in the bilge? Really? Did I read that right? That is not a leak, that is boat sweat.
Checked the anchor locker of water and it’s draining but could it still be leaking some? Only way to tell is to pull the insert out but if I go that far I might as well just reseal it all. Cockpit drain hoses? Possibly and I’ve looked them over along with flushing the cockpit with copious amounts of hose water but never a leak to be found plus it would be fresh water and this leak is brackish. I’ve been trying to trace the leaks into the bilge for years. Sometimes it just happens for what seems no reason. Other times like after a big rain or a lively sail, not a drop. And yes, I’m worrying about 1/4 inch of water. What can I say, I’m retired and little things like this take on more of an importance.

BTW, Christian, my wife is reading one of my two copies of Alone Together (one copy I purchased but then she got another one from you signed as a Christmas present) and she is certainly enjoying it and full of questions (to me) about your journey and mechanical stuff. She was horrified about the binnacle failing and promptly asked if I have checked ours lately. :)
 

Bolo

Sustaining Member
Have you checked the TAFG compartment forward of bilge #1 where the first keel bolt sits. You likely have to go in through the forward bench seat after removing an inspection plate in the "floor."

I've had standing water in this area from time to time. Any time the TAFG fills to a certain water level this area can take on water. When you pump the bilges & TAFG dry, water stays trapped there but can flow back out during pitching & heeling.
Yes, this compartment has been checked not only by me but by the yard, where I keep my boat, as part of a keel bolt check and tightening.
 

Bolo

Sustaining Member
If bilge #1 were truly separate from the other four (as you claim), it could not have salt water in it unless the salt water level in the TAFG got as high as the plumping conduit pipes or wiring holes in that compartment. Or, a keel bolt in that bilge is leaking.

Btw, the original Ericson bilge hoses do have a bit of loop in them at the stern--the hoses comes up straight from the thru-hulls, then loop up and aft to the transom, where the hoses then go below the TAFG. The thru-hulls would have to be submerged by several inches (5-6?? or more) before water could backflow into the bilges.
No salt water in bilge #1, just fresh from the mast. Brackish water in bilges 2 & 3 only. Yes, I did check and there is a bit of a loop but not much. There wasn’t much water in the bilge (1/4”) so maybe some repeated wave action could have just forced a little bit in at a time and over the course of a few hours it all collected in the bilge? Who knows? It would take more serious sleuthing to figure it out. Not being a big problem, just an annoying one, I’m willing to live with it till I see some other clues. Hell, I’ve been living with it for years!
 

Bolo

Sustaining Member
As the Victorians supposedly said: Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow. Of course their yachts were all maintained by paid crew...
:)
Guess I never heard the words “boat” and ”sweat” used together in a sentence before. I know I certainly do sweat when I work on the boat during a Chesapeake summer. Hmmm….maybe that’s where its coming from…..ME!
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
Checked the anchor locker of water and it’s draining but could it still be leaking some? Only way to tell is to pull the insert out but if I go that far I might as well just reseal it all. Cockpit drain hoses? Possibly and I’ve looked them over along with flushing the cockpit with copious amounts of hose water but never a leak to be found plus it would be fresh water and this leak is brackish. I’ve been trying to trace the leaks into the bilge for years. Sometimes it just happens for what seems no reason. Other times like after a big rain or a lively sail, not a drop. And yes, I’m worrying about 1/4 inch of water. What can I say, I’m retired and little things like this take on more of an importance.

BTW, Christian, my wife is reading one of my two copies of Alone Together (one copy I purchased but then she got another one from you signed as a Christmas present) and she is certainly enjoying it and full of questions (to me) about your journey and mechanical stuff. She was horrified about the binnacle failing and promptly asked if I have checked ours lately. :)
In response to your comment, "I’ve been trying to trace the leaks into the bilge for years. Sometimes it just happens for what seems no reason. Other times like after a big rain or a lively sail, not a drop." ... I'm in the same boat (figuratively and literally). I'm at a total loss to correlate bilge water accumulation with recent conditions.
About that way-forward bilge: After making the bilge pump in #1 drain as much as it can, I often use a manual pump to such the remaining water out, including poking the hose way into the forward limber hole in bilge #2 to get as much of the TAFG water out too, and, I poke the hose down the hole that's an inch or so forward of the mast, in the mast support plate. If there's more than about 1/2" of water in bilge #1, there's usually water in that way-forward bilge too.
I find it satisfying to get as much out of all bilges whenever I decide to go after it. :)
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
One value of a diaphragm pump is that the hose (seen here with in-line strainer) can be long enough to suction several bilge compartments. At rest it just coils up in its primary compartment. Not for everyone, but useful to me. Blog entry on pump installation considerations here.

bilge hose  long.jpg
 

jtsai

Member III
Checked the anchor locker of water and it’s draining but could it still be leaking some?
Do you have visual to the anchor lock drain tube stem? If so, ask someone forces water into the drain hole from outside the boat (have to do this from a dinghy). That is how I discovered the sealant around the stem was compromised. You are not going able to recreate the leak by pouring water into the anchor locker.
 

Bolo

Sustaining Member
Do you have visual to the anchor lock drain tube stem? If so, ask someone forces water into the drain hole from outside the boat (have to do this from a dinghy). That is how I discovered the sealant around the stem was compromised. You are not going able to recreate the leak by pouring water into the anchor locker.
No, I don't know how you can get a visual on the anchor locker drain team but I was thinking that I might get into my dinghy and apply some sealant around the opening to the drain at the bow and maybe a bit into the drain hole being careful not to block it off completely.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
No, I don't know how you can get a visual on the anchor locker drain team but I was thinking that I might get into my dinghy and apply some sealant around the opening to the drain at the bow and maybe a bit into the drain hole being careful not to block it off completely.
I "assisted" (watched and handed him tools...) my friend with his E-32-3, when he removed/restored the anchor tub. He could not figure out an easy way to secure that "glued-in" piece of drain tubing as the tub was dropped back into place. IIRC he used a longer length of tube, and put a glob of sealant around the hole in the bow stem. The tube extended outside. With the inside 'glob' and by pushing sealant around the exterior of the tube it was secured in place and water tight. The excess tubing was cut off just beyond the bow stem exterior.

Different in our boat where EY glassed in a 4" long copper tube to the hole in the stem. Then they could conventionally clamp the hose from the anchor well onto it. We do have access to that area of the bow from inside though.

( Personally, I would cut an access plate in that 'tub' to allow more conventional access, and then also have a glassed-in piece of copper to secure the hose to. )
 
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