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Water, Water, everywhere

hdlEric

Member III
I have an '87 34'. I am having trouble with water in the bilge, and I cannot determine where it is coming from. I can get as much as 15 gal after a couple heavy rains. I cannot find any leaks that bad, that it would result in that much water coming in.
Has anybody ever had such a problem??? Could it be coming from the mast????
It is always clear water, except one time it was black.
Howard
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Normally you (and I) will get several quarts of nice clear rain water in our bilges after any major downpour.
It comes into the mast thru the sheaves on top, multiple spreader bases, and the halyard exit plates.
I use a turkey baster to get the water out every week in the winter rainy season. While a minor nuisance, it's no worse - imho - than the problems that other boats have with deck-stepped spars.

So, my guess is that you have this water coming out of the weep hole at the base of your mast. You might want to see if you can run a wire into that little hole once in a while, also.

Further, you might have some water coming from the stuffing box, if.... the packing gland is dripping when the boat is at rest. This is not too common.
 

hdlEric

Member III
water, water everywhere

Loren, Thanks for the answer! I was not aware that much water could come through the mast. It is definitely not coming from the stuffing box.
Howard
 
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bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
Has anybody ever had such a problem???
Could it be coming from the mast????

Yes, and yes.

When I started chasing down where water was coming from, I isolated the bilge-pocket just aft of the mast from the main bilge (small wooden bung in the limber hole did the trick). I was somewhat astonished to learn that more than a gallon of water comes down through the mast into the boat in an average rainstorm (hey, there's probably a reason they call this place the Pacific North Wet). But... at least I knew how much of the water was from the mast.

The rest of the water.... is still a partial mystery. When the boat is in the slip, the main bilge gets some water in it. I believe it, too, is rainwater. On a whim I taped over the edges of the starboard lazarette lid, and the outboard scuppers, and after the next rainstorm the amount of water in the main bilge was cut by about 2/3rds. I suspect there is a crack in (at least) one of my scupper hoses, and I also suspect that some weatherstrip or similar around the edge of the lazarette hatch may make a difference. So chasing those down is on my project list. I've never seen any trace of dripping or weeping around any of the thru-hulls, I don't see water dripping from the dripless gland, and I don't think I have a keelbolt issue (the bilge stays dry when there is no rain), so... yeah, apparently rainwater has a variety of paths into my boat.

It's a journey, not a destination.

Underway... I think there are other things. I don't suspect my dripless, and I don't think it is my rudder gland. Even if the bilge is dry when I leave the dock I often end up with water in the bilge when under way.

As an example, I motored for a solid 5 hours last August on the way across the Sound, and when I got where I was going I found my bilge almost full. Which... bothers me.

I have a strong suspicion that, as you found, when the boat is either heeling or at hull-speed, the "exits" under the stern have the potential to become "entrances". I haven't figured out how to test it yet but the electric bilge-pump hose is my prime suspect, both because it is the thru-hull closest to the static waterline, and because there is no check-valve or anti-siphon loop in the path. My project list for the spring includes replacing the hoses to all 4 scuppers, and putting (at least) a loop in the bilge-pump hose; more likely, if I have the time, I'm going to replace the existing system with a diaphragm pump (which acts as its own check-valve).

It is always clear water, except one time it was black.

I had that, too. First sail in the boat after it had been idle for several months while I worked on the mast. Water in the bilge was black and stinky. My guess is/was that it was water trapped under sections of the TAFG, which only found a path out to the main bilge when the boat heeled. I don't even want to think about what was growing under there ("creature from the black lagoon"?). I ended up funneling a bunch of water+bilge-cleaner into the hole in front of the mast, and pumping it out when it found its way to the main bilge. Cycled this solutions through a number of times, in an attempt to flush out any grunge under the grid. Have no idea whether it really did anything, but at least now my bilge-water is clear and smells like bilge-cleaner...

Bruce
 
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Banditmoe

New Member
Check Under the Mast Boot

Shared Vision, an Ericson 38-200 has had a lot of different colored and different smelling water in the bilge over the last few years. Once, was to the point of almost sinking, so be thankful that it's only 15 gallons of clear water.

That being said it is most likely the mast in my expert “chasing down the liquid in the bilge” opinion. However, 15 gallons is possibly more than just internal mast water. Shared Vision is getting about 5 gallons internal mast water after a heavy rain (I have been using a shop vac frequently so this measurement is accurate).

Check under your mast boot, even if it requires removing a vang fitting or the like. In the endless quest for a dry bilge on Shared Vision, I finally removed the vang fitting and the mast boot only to find that the rubber mast wedge was nowhere near where it belonged. The out of place wedge was letting a ton of water down the mast track and possibly into the newly cored deck, as well as having an obvious effect on rigging. Forestay always seem a little loose? Not now. Easily went from 15 gallons like you are describing down to 5 with that 1 simple check and fix. Link to photos of mast boot findings https://photos.app.goo.gl/5CGOnxoUAL0WjKYj2

 

Rick R.

Contributing Partner
Ughhh

Just dealt with this yesterday. Had a little water in bildge aft of the mast and smelled kind of bad. I hosed out and pumped the bildge completely a couple times and made it smell much better.

What do you guys use for bildge cleaner?
RR
 

kiwisailor

Member III
Blogs Author
Check your scupper drain hoses!

I have an '87 34'. I am having trouble with water in the bilge, and I cannot determine where it is coming from. I can get as much as 15 gal after a couple heavy rains. I cannot find any leaks that bad, that it would result in that much water coming in.
Has anybody ever had such a problem??? Could it be coming from the mast????
It is always clear water, except one time it was black.
Howard

After recently having the boat almost sink while on the hard from a fresh water leak I now know first hand about water leaks in E38's. I highly recommend everyone check the two scupper drain hoses that connect on to the two aft above waterline transom thru holes. One of my hoses had cracked on the under side of the hose at the thru hole fitting and whenever it rained leaked badly into the lazarette and flowed back into the bilge. We had some recent monsoon like rain in CT and I collected "a lot" of fresh water into the bilge. Seeing my boat was on the hard I had my low level bilge switch off, luckily I have a high level bilge switch/alarm that bypasses the low level switch and pumped the the bilge out albeit at higher level in the bilge.

I've now replaced all my scupper drain hoses.
 

JSM

Member III
I also have a 87 34-2 that seems to take a lot of water into the bilge. For the two years that I have owned this boat I have been playing whack a mole with leaks in the transom area that would allow water to migrate into the rear berth, travel under the mattress and continue on to the end grain of the cabin sole on its way to the bilge. Some were caused by stantion bases that needed rebedding. Also had water coming in from the vent cowls in the transom.
Thought that I finally had the leaks under control and replaced the sole this winter only to find that the water in the rear berth has returned, this time coming from the engine control panel.
The only way I was able to find this leak was to seal myself into the lazarette with a flash light while my neighbor slowly ran a hose over the transom, pedestal base and lazarette covers.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Zombie Bilge Hoses

Nibbling around the edges of a larger problem, IMHO.
Entropy. :eek:

After over two decades most of the original bilge and cockpit drain hoses are in last risky bits of their 'design life' and need to be replaced.
If you read the threads about the original 80's above-water plastic thru hulls you will see that it's safest to replace all of them and the hoses that go to them. i.e. get all your swearing/cursing done at once!

Whether you replace those thru hulls with Marelon, bronze, or SS is of little importance... whatever material you choose will outlast your term of ownership.

Hoses, OTOH, do vary a lot in longevity. Our original hoses were ribbed vinyl, and also wire-reinforced "exhaust hose", and while that later construction had visibly more life left in it after a quarter century, all were showing cracking and signs of brittle-ness.

The last of the majorly heavy-duty hoses was our original exhaust hose, and it started slowly seeping rusty water in several places last year. It is gone now, replaced by new hose. Matter of fact the original 1/4" syphon break hose (black fabric reinforced) was pull out this week. It's solid enough, but more stiff than it should be. (Planning to plug that transom hole because the new engine does not require this hose.)

Someone mentioned the original engine panel. Yup. the plastic cast panel insert had some small cracks in the bottom lip and those were filled with a bit of sealant over the years. UV is hard on most all plastic castings/moldings.
That lip slopes inward and would hold some water after a wash down. The rim of the panel was re-sealed a time or two, and ours never leaked.

Nothing wrong at all with episodic fixes, but I believe that it takes a lot less total time and frustration to just overhaul all the systems after the passage of several decades.
 

Bolo

Member III
Death, taxes and mast bilge water...the three truths in life (At least for us!)

I've been working on the bilge water problem from the very first day I bought our 32-3. But what I've learned is that there is no way to stop water from coming in though the mast during a rain storm as you can see from Christian's video. Exactly what it looks and sounds like on our boat. The mast/shower bilge is so small (compared to the main bilge) and has such a long run to where it exists the boat in the stern that using a rotary type pump isn't the answer because when it shuts off all the water in the line from the stern back to the bilge gains back into the bilge and using a one-way valve in the line just makes me nervous. So I took a page out of Christian William's "book" (I'm sure you can find it on this site) and installed a Jabsco diaphragm pump (the one I bought came with a strainer) and a Rule_a_Mate float switch which has two different on and off positions. It has a higher level to turn the pump on and a lower one to turn it off. I tried the non-float kind (that Christian used) but it was intermittent and failed often for reasons I just couldn't figure out. But the float switch has worked find. Since the mast bilge on my boat is so small I couldn't fit a box strainer at the bottom so I screwed the strainer that came with the pump to the side of the bilge wall and then ran a stiff clear hose to the bottom and cut the end at a shallow angle so the the bilge can almost completely drain out. Since I'm using a diaphragm pump it sucks and not pushes the water out so that on manual I can drain almost all the water except for about 1/4". This winter the mast bilge, hose and pump froze up and I thought the pump was gone for sure but after things thawed it still worked.

So now I'm thinking on adding the same pump to the main bilge too. I to get some water in there also from rain. I think when it pours some rain makes its way past the lazarette doors and some water I think finds its way under the flat wood piece at the top of the transom. It's not much but it can fill the main bilge over time before the rotary pump kicks in and then water also drains back from the line there too so thats why I'm considering a diaphragm pump for that bilge also.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
The Water Witch sensor is kinda confusing. It typically has a delay, which makes test results questionable or function to appear intermittent.

I'm OK with mine, but I think a standard float switch works as well or better, if there's room for one.

The Water Witch at least solves the issue of keel bolts in the way.

Here are some considerations:

[h=2]Does water need to cover both sensors to start pumping water?[/h]Normally, no. It depends on if the boat is in the water. Looking at the bilge switch with the wires coming out the top, the lowest sensor disk becomes the activation sensor (on model 217,230, and 23 series only, Model 101 and 10 series only have one disk and use the mounting tab as a ground) so the water needs only to barely touch that sensor for 8 seconds to activate your pump. However, if your bilge water is not grounded the water may need to touch both sensors to activate the switch Note: In some cases where there is a lot of rain water entering the bilge, the water may be too clean for our sensor to see. In these rare situations the best course of action is to manually activate the bilge pump to remove the rain water or add mineral (chlorine, salt, bilge cleaners) to the bilge.

[h=2]What level do you mount the Water Witch bilge switch?[/h]You should install it above the water level left in the bilge after your pump has completed its normal pumping cycle.

[h=2]Why would the pump turn on when no water is on the switch?[/h]Every time power is initiated to the boat system, or the Water Witch sensor(s), the switch will turn on the pump for 3 pulses. This is normal and is a good signal because it informs you that the system and pump(s) are operational.

[h=2]How do I hook-up a 3-way switch?[/h]It depends on the pump manufacturer and you should use their instructions. Please Note AUTO Position-Proper voltage must go to our RED wire MANUAL Position – Proper voltage connection must go to our TAN wire What Are The Water Witch Wiring Sequences? Tan Wire Positive (+) side of the pump Black Wire Negative (-) side of the battery Red Wire Positive (+) side of the battery.

[h=2]What should I use on the electrical connections for best installation?[/h]Connect to a terminal strip, or use quality butt connectors and apply a marine grade liquid electrical tape to prevent water intrusion on your electrical connection.

[h=2]What size FUSE should I use?[/h]It is important to use the size recommended by the pump manufacturer.

[h=2]What can be used to clean the stainless steel sensors?[/h]Generally, all that is needed is a wet rag. If your bilge has been extremely dirty, we suggest a quality bilge cleaner and wipe them clean. Do not use wax on the sensors.

[h=2]Will the Water Witch function with oil or gasoline on the water?[/h]While the Water Witch does not detect oil or gas, it operates with extended time delays. As the water continues to rise, it will lift the oil (hydrocarbons) above the sensors and detect the bilge water. This will activate the pump until the “water” is off the sensors.

[h=2]How do I test the Water Witch?[/h]Upon correct initial installation, the Water Witch will turn on your pump for 3 pulses and then turn off. You can use any conductive material (wet rag works best) across both sensors for the delay time (8 seconds) to activate the pump (for the model 101, the second sensor is the mounting tab). Note: Depending on how it was installed, the Water Witch should also turn on when your vessel powers up
 
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kiwisailor

Member III
Blogs Author
The Problem of the Bilge

First off all credit to Christian as his bilge pictures gave me the idea to solve my bilge problem.

My boat originally had the Rule-A-Matic float switch that was problematic and prone to sticking, add to the fact the E38 bilge is to damn small to effectively install a float switch.

My first task was to install a high level two wire Johnson Ultima electronic bilge switch that is connected to a relay that will activate both a visual/audible alarm on the DC panel and turn on the bilge pump totally bypassing the low level bilge switch position. This is mounted on the vertical TAFG surface about 1/2 way up the bilge.

https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=344412

Next I installed a Jabsco strum box and mounted an electronic Water Witch bilge switch onto the side of the strum box and wired it back to the original panel man-off-auto bilge switch, I also added a small green 12v LED to the panel switch that is lit anytime by switch is live in the auto position. This enables me to to just eyeball the switch and see that it's in the auto position and has power to the Water Witch bilge switch.

Using the Water Witch and strum box got my bilge switch nice and low into the bilge and and strum box fits snugly between the keel bolts in my bilge with the outlet facing upwards to the bilge hose if you cut of the 3 horizontal mounting tabs. I'll try and get some pictures of the bilge install soon.

View attachment 24357View attachment 24358
 
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oldfauser

Member III
After recently having the boat almost sink while on the hard from a fresh water leak I now know first hand about water leaks in E38's. I highly recommend everyone check the two scupper drain hoses that connect on to the two aft above waterline transom thru holes. One of my hoses had cracked on the under side of the hose at the thru hole fitting and whenever it rained leaked badly into the lazarette and flowed back into the bilge. We had some recent monsoon like rain in CT and I collected "a lot" of fresh water into the bilge. Seeing my boat was on the hard I had my low level bilge switch off, luckily I have a high level bilge switch/alarm that bypasses the low level switch and pumped the the bilge out albeit at higher level in the bilge.

I've now replaced all my scupper drain hoses.

we had the same issue - holes in both the outer scupper hoses that drain to the thru hull under the sink...

check all of the scupper hoses!!!! :egrin:
 

e38 owner

Member III
Scupper hoses should be a annual check item. All ours have been replaced. In addition Ericsons method of attachment could have been done better. Not up to 2018 standards.
 

Rick R.

Contributing Partner
Another source

I had a fresh water leak into the aft cabin years ago that we couldn’t find until my friend used a hose around the cockpit. It turned out to be the stereo speakers mounted under the helm.

Also, when I replaced the cowl vents on the transom, I left the caps on them. They were a source of leaks in the Florida rains (which sometimes blow sideways).
 

kiwisailor

Member III
Blogs Author
Bilge Switch

First off all credit to Christian as his bilge pictures gave me the idea to solve my bilge problem.

My boat originally had the Rule-A-Matic float switch that was problematic and prone to sticking, add to the fact the E38 bilge is to damn small to effectively install a float switch.

My first task was to install a high level two wire Johnson Ultima electronic bilge switch that is connected to a relay that will activate both a visual/audible alarm on the DC panel and turn on the bilge pump totally bypassing the low level bilge switch position. This is mounted on the vertical TAFG surface about 1/2 way up the bilge.

https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?id=344412

Next I installed a Jabsco strum box and mounted an electronic Water Witch bilge switch onto the side of the strum box and wired it back to the original panel man-off-auto bilge switch, I also added a small green 12v LED to the panel switch that is lit anytime by switch is live in the auto position. This enables me to to just eyeball the switch and see that it's in the auto position and has power to the Water Witch bilge switch.

Using the Water Witch and strum box got my bilge switch nice and low into the bilge and and strum box fits snugly between the keel bolts in my bilge with the outlet facing upwards to the bilge hose if you cut of the 3 horizontal mounting tabs. I'll try and get some pictures of the bilge install soon.

View attachment 24357View attachment 24358


Here is a picture of my bilge setup. Water witch is screwed to the side of the strum box and high level bilge alarm switch screwed to the TAFG.

Speaking of hoses my manual bilge hose snapped off where it exits the TAFG into the bilge, that's now on my list to replace in the coming weeks.

IMG_2350.jpg
 

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EGregerson

Member III
E34 Water leak

one source not mentioned so far (i theenk) of water intrusion is the anchor locker; there is a drain hose from the locker to a drain hole in the bow (viewable in the v berth thru the little door under the anchor locker); leaking or broken, the water ends up in the bilge.
 

jtsai

Member I
I noticed copiously amount of water sitting at bottom of anchor well when motoring at hull speed but drains out at idle. Is this normal due to hydrostatic pressure pushing water upward through anchor locker drain tube?

Second question, if the anchor locker drain tube is compromised, should the leak be visible under v berth water tank (which I have one) or flows under the liner to the bilge.

Jeff T
1990 32-3, Ardea
New Bern, NC
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I noticed copiously amount of water sitting at bottom of anchor well when motoring at hull speed but drains out at idle. Is this normal due to hydrostatic pressure pushing water upward through anchor locker drain tube?

Second question, if the anchor locker drain tube is compromised, should the leak be visible under v berth water tank (which I have one) or flows under the liner to the bilge.

Jeff T
1990 32-3, Ardea
New Bern, NC
I watched a friend reattach the drain hose to the glassed-in copper tube on his 32-3. On that model this is best reached with the anchor well tub removed, and he had removed it to reseal the whole top lip area. It was really difficult, IIRC, to get the hose clamped into place and set the tub in at the same time.
I hope someone else here has an answer.
(He finally put a quantity of sealant around the hose and pushed the tub and hose downward together, I sort of recall.)

Also, the hose exit tube is closer to the waterline on that model than it is on our model, so you are indeed seeing some water pushed in from the bow wave would be my guess.
 
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