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Old 05-05-2008, 06:11   #1
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Water in Bilge - Normal ?

Hopefully not too silly of a question... I happened across a boat for sale I was interested already splashed at a marina I was checking out. Called the owner, told me where the key was and said have a look around so I did briefly.

Upon checking the bilge I found 1-2 inches of water in there. I'm assuming the mail bilge pump was working (boat connected to shore power, circuits looked on but I didn't mess w/ stuff). The boat was clean and seemed like a "Dry" boat on first impressions. I think it had rained the night before should that really matter.

Is it normal for some water to be in the bilge? Certain height to activate the bilge pump? In hindsight I should have lifted up the bilge float and made sure that was working.

There was a large container of the "dry-it" stuff in the cabin, I forget the make the ice cream pail stuff used to absorb moisture. I assumed it was left in over the winter.

I know, a lot of assuming going on on my part!

Boat in question was a 1996 Hunter 280.

Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:56   #2
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Is it normal for some water to be in the bilge?
It will depend on who you ask, for my old 1973 boat, water leaks from the hull to deck joint and other deck fittings. After a heavy rain I might get 2 gallons in the bilge. I have decided to just live with it, fixing and makeing it more watertight each year. I do not live on the boat.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:37   #3
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I guess you didn't taste the water? (Honestly! - BTW that's taste on your lips / tongue and not drink!!).

Salt water = water coming UP (which is potentially more serious, but usually easier to fix).

Fresh Water = Water coming DOWN (which is less serious but can be PITA to track down and then fix.......but could be relatively simple to fix.....indeed rain run offs within the cockpit / around hatches / windows and covers could mean a bit of rain water finding it's way into the bilge was accepted as "normal" by the owner........different folk do have different tolerances for this - My Father is upset with dust - me on the other hand is a bit more "relaxed" ........I have a rain run off down the Mizzen Mast into the bilge - on my to do list - but as the Bilge is very deep and the water does not pour in I am not concerned).

But could be that the float is stuck / battery flat or is above the water. 1 to 2 inches could be awkward to suck up depending on pump placement / bilge shape.


Sounds like another trip to the boat is in order (never a bad thing) - good to ask the owner directly why their is a touch of water in her, when he last pumped her out and if you visit after some more rain you will get an idea of how quickly she is filling up......as you say she looks like a dry boat (except for this) I wouldn't rule her out simply over this.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:45   #4
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Boat is located on a fresh water lake so if I taste salt water something is WAY off!!!

I'll be talking w/ the owner and be sure to ask.

I'm up to making up excuses to got o the marinas... if you know any good ones please let me know!
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:46   #5
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unfortunately, yes. Water in the bilge is the symptom. Where it came from and how it got on board is the real important question. I get a small amount in my main bilge as well as the engine's bilge from heavy rain getting into the cowl vents. I also get water in my main bilge from my ice box drain. All no big deal. The important thing is to know the source. Water getting in through a leaky through hull is a concern as is a leaky stuffing box. A few drips per second as the engine runs is normal. A small stream as the vessel sits will sink her.

get a survey before buying

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Old 05-05-2008, 07:50   #6
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Boat is located on a fresh water lake so if I taste salt water something is WAY off!!!
Doh!

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Old 05-05-2008, 09:12   #7
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Normal depends on the boat. Therefore there is no normal. Some boats have typically dry bilges and other typically wet bilges. My boat is typically wet since there are many ways for water to get down there. Is this a problem for me? No, the bilge pumps do a pretty good job although they are never able to scrape out that last little bit of water.
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:33   #8
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Spoke with the owner- said it was a leaky stuffing box. Said he had to have it tightened ~ 2x years ago and it must be time to have it tightened again.

Of not much concern? I have no real clue on service intervals for stuffing boxes.
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Old 07-05-2008, 02:14   #9
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Stuffing box help

Particularly the excellent tutorial posted by Acoustic: Re-Packing A Traditional Stuffing Box Photo Gallery by Maine Sailing at pbase.com
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Old 07-05-2008, 08:38   #10
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Originally Posted by marty9876 View Post
Spoke with the owner- said it was a leaky stuffing box. Said he had to have it tightened ~ 2x years ago and it must be time to have it tightened again.

Of not much concern? I have no real clue on service intervals for stuffing boxes.
Stuffing boxes need tightened as needed. Rule of thumb is a few drips per minute when the shaft is turning and NO drips when not. Keep in mind that the only thing worse than a dripping stuffing box is an over tightened one that scores the shaft so when tightening do it very gradually. When running the stuffing box should be barely warm to the touch and never hot..

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Old 07-05-2008, 09:10   #11
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All of the boats I have ever owned get water in the bilge. I would think it is more normal than not. But, as posted, do your best to figure out why it is there.
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Old 07-05-2008, 09:42   #12
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I'm curious why more people do not have dripless shaft seals? Mine seem to work fine. I bought new ones once and that was when I re-engined the boat. The previous ones lasted 10 years and were still working fine when I replaced them. Is it the cost that keeps people from using them?
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:34   #13
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if stuffing has not been replaced since 1996 then it needs to be done ...
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:59   #14
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Opinion

I think more people don't have dripless because:

1. it is a retrofit for most
2. when it fails you have a flood (all or none deal)

A traditional stuffing gives more problems overall, but less severe than the flood. Also can be jury rigged anytime, easily (rope, cloth, whatever) to make it home.
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:08   #15
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I'm curious why more people do not have dripless shaft seals? Mine seem to work fine. I bought new ones once and that was when I re-engined the boat. The previous ones lasted 10 years and were still working fine when I replaced them. Is it the cost that keeps people from using them?
Also, like in this thread http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...gly-11672.html , a problem with the dripless shaft seal means a haul out. Traditional stuffing boxes are easily dealt with in the water with no sweat.
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