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Old 05-04-2009, 15:02   #1
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Water in encapsulated keel

We purchased a 1995 Caliber 35 and have been refitting it for cruising. Our final task before launching was to sand and paint the bottom, but after sanding we saw water weeping off the bottom. Prior to purchase the surveyor did not find this and neither did we, and the bottom paint looked brand new. Unfortunately, we have already spent about $40,000 on the refit and are too deep into it to quit now. Caliber has an encapsulated keel, and the ballast is sealed both top ad bottom, so we are hopeful that it is still intact. There is no evidence of water damage anyway inside the boat. There is an area under the bottom of the keel that feels slightly chewed up, but we can't tell if it actually has a hole in it. Anybody familiar with the success (or lack of success) with repairing an encapsulated keel on a Caliber?
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Old 05-04-2009, 16:32   #2
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If you have water intrusion from the bottom of your keel, the solve will take some time. It would probably serve you well to have a Marine Surveyor take a look at it and evaluate the extent of your problem. There is usually more to something like this than meets the eye. S.A.M.S. surveyors have a pretty good rep. in general, you might want to look one up and see what he would charge for a consult.
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Old 05-04-2009, 16:43   #3
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Thanks. That is good advice.
We have emailed the builder and are hoping to hear back from them. We have been in touch with a local experienced boat builder but don't know when he will get a chance to look at it. Although we would hate to sit out the coming sailing season, we might need to.
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Old 05-04-2009, 17:33   #4
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ewy keels

Not the end of the world imho. The fix usually involves drilling a series of holes at the lowest point and draining and drying the keel out and resealing the holes. The big issue is that if you live in a cold climate and subject the keel to freeze thaw cycles you can get separation of the glass and ballast material. You mentioned that the bottom of the keel was "scuffed ". It sounds like the boat has been grounded and wasn,t hauled and resealed after the event. The bottom can bump quite hard without any obvious damage to the glass but the resin will be shattered. I have just bought a boat with a encapsulated keel and hope i don't run into the same problem
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:37   #5
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Id ask Michael McCreary (Caliber co-owner/designer) for his advice.

Caliber Yachts
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:02   #6
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hi harmony

my boat has an encapsulated keel too and I intend to fit in a bronze plug to drain any water ingress that might seep in
I read an great article on the web detailing the procedure and I found it to be practical and do-able with the basic DIY skills, try to look it up and it will solve your problem.
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:06   #7
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harmony

go to the link below it will be helpful
cheers
Water in Hull or Keel - Garboard Plug
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:13   #8
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Gbendaly, that was a fantastic link. I almost wish I had water in the keel so I could do that...lol.....Allan
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:21   #9
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hey Allan

glad to be of any help
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:29   #10
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Thanks much to each of you.
GordMay: We have contacted Caliber and are waiting for a response. We also contacted the Caliber Club but they did not have any information on this type of problem.
gbendaly: I checked the link and it sure has great instructions. We will give this idea consideration, but if water is in the boat for any length of time, it could blister from the inside out. I have doubts about drain plugs and having another hole in the boat--especially since we will leave the boat in the water for a couple of years at a time. Figuring out how/from where the water is getting in seems worth some effort. So far we have contacted a local experienced boat builder to give us an evaluation.
Any and all further ideas welcome.
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:35   #11
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Unless I missed it I did not see mention of whether the encapsulated ballast was lead or iron. Some boats have used scrap steel, cast iron, and whatever else for ballast. If lead I wouldn't worry too much. If steel I would. Once it starts rusting at the very least it will swell and possibly delaminate the glass.
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:04   #12
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Thanks skipmac for the feedback. We believe the ballast is iron and cement. The ballast is supposed to be double sealed above and below it. We are waiting to hear back from Caliber and are hoping they confirm this to be true. If we can learn exactly how the ballast is sealed and are satisfied, we will be more likely to use the plug route suggested by gbendaly, as it seems a reasonable approach. But if the ballast also contains cement, we need further info about what that could mean. Caliber is known to build a quality boat, so we are hopeful these seals are built to last a long time.
EvB
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Old 06-04-2009, 16:06   #13
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UPDATE:
Caliber responded with the following:
"From a couple of owners reports, if the sump pump is replaced and not sealed properly water from the sump can trickle it's way down the keel. It [the keel] was encapsulated in the mortar mix then the same as is done today and the ballast should be fine."

For now I am having a hard time picturing how a leaky sump pump could send water trickling down the keel past the double-sealed ballast. If you have ideas, I am open to them. Meantime, I will putting on the inspector mangifying glasses and tracing the sump pump.
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Old 06-04-2009, 16:24   #14
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I don't know anything about the specific application, but one thing worries me when steel and mortar are mentioned - mortar is not waterproof, it would only keep the steel from moving around or shifting. I don't see what's keeping water from the steel(causing it to rust and expand) Is the first encapsulation the faired fiberglass exterior of the keel & the second the mortar?
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Old 06-04-2009, 16:46   #15
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Thanks perchance. What kind of boat did you just buy?
We have never grounded the boat, but it could have been the previous owner. However, we bought it in NC and the previous owner had sailed it in the Caribbean but the surveyor didn't find anything and neither did we, but we didn't look underneath the bottom of the keel. We brought it up the ICW ourselves so we know we didn't hit anything along the way. We sail in the Chesapeake Bay and 99.9% of the bottom is nothing more than mud, so even if it hit bottom here it is unlikely to hurt it.
In another thread, I received the following web link which is an excellent link for installing a permanent plug that can be used to drain the keel:
Water in Hull or Keel - Garboard Plug
Meantime, I have heard back from the boat builder, Caliber, and they said there is evidence from a couple of boats that if the sump pump has been replaced and is not sealed correctly, it could be the source of water into the keel. [I am having some difficulty wrapping my head around how a leaky sump pump could send water dripping into the keel past the double sealed ballast.] They also said the keel was double sealed the same way then as it is now and that it should be fine. They agreed that the best process is to create a hole in a void area to drain the water and put in heat lamps to dry it.

Last fall we had a rigger add a new staysail on a new roller furler. I have put a call into him to inquire about the process and try to unearth any potential new holes in the top of the boat near the anchor locker. Thate could be a potential structural change that could have resulted in a hole in which water in the anchor locker could trickle down into the keel.

For now we are on a hunt to find out how the water got into the keel to begin with so it doesn't happen again. If we don't find the "reason" we will likely add garboard plugs for now and keep looking.
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