How is this possible, and how can I fix it? [fixed!]

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How is this possible, and how can I fix it? [fixed!]

Postby craig on Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:01 am

I took my Pocketship out for its first over-night camping trip this month. On returning home, I discovered 2 gallons of lake water in the bilges that must have entered through a leak in the hull. I have never seen any water in the bilges before, but this was the longest I've ever been in the water. Today's question is how to fix the leak.

What we know:

1. I don't have access to a dock, and single-hand most of the time. So, I've been forced to leave Pocketship on the concrete ramp, where motorboat wake and waves cause it to grind away the fiberglass. I'm going to super-fiberglass the keel to fix it, but for now, the fiberglass and epoxy layer have worn off completely on the keel bottom from the nosecone to the centerboard trunk.

2. The plywood forming the walls of the centerboard trunk and keel in that area were wet, and a very slow amount of water was coming out drip-drip-drip. One drip every 3-5 minutes. This was the water from inside the bilges.

My interpretation:

1. Water must have entered through the plywood in the keel, then somehow wicked up the grain, up to the end of the plywood panel (which is directly under the keelson)

2. Then, despite trying my best, the water found a tiny hole through my fillets around the keelson, and into the bilges. This seems impossible, since I have fillets and then fiberglass there. It must have been through a limber hole, where there is no fiberglass and the small size made filleting challenging.

3. Given the location of the leak (at floor 4), I'm guessing the limber holes in question are at floor 4 or floor 5.

Does this seem like a reasonable hypothesis? I'm surprised that plywood could soak up water like that. Also, I looked for any sign of water seeping in through the paint in the bilges, and didn't see anything to indicate where the leak is.
Last edited by craig on Tue Aug 25, 2015 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Titania, launched January 2015
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby Shudoman on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:05 am

Ouch!

I would be kinda skeptical that the water is being wicked up through the grain in the CB trunk. Does your CB operate properly? Seems like that much water in the sides of the trunk would cause the wood to swell up so much that the CB would jam.

My first thought if it were my boat is that if there was constant rough contact with a concrete bottom that the keel to hull integrity was compromised, could be a hairline crack in a fillet around the keelson near the trunk. That would probably be better than if it WERE the centerboard trunk since that can be easily reinforced. If your trunk is really that saturated where it is weeping out into the boat it's probably a big project to fix.

I can't offer much help on how, but finding the exact cause it the key to resolution. At the very least the ideas you have about redoing the fiberglass work on the nose and the CB trunk needs to be done. Be very careful to make sure these area are completely dry before doing any fiberglass work. I would invest in a moisture meter (or better yet -- borrow one). The meter might be able to tell you if the CB trunk is saturated or if the leak is coming from somewhere else.

Good Luck,
Bill
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby craig on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:09 am

Bill,

The centerboard works fine. From what I can see, the plywood walls have not swelled very much, and certainly isn't occluding the board. It's hard to see very far into the trunk but the only "wet" area is that very front part (as far as I can tell).

The grinding on the concrete is very low-impact. You could be right in that I fractured a fillet or something, but it wasn't a hard hit-a-rock-going-full-speed kind of thing.
Titania, launched January 2015
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby DanaDCole on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:09 am

First, I am very, very sorry to hear your bad news, and I wish you all the best in getting it resolved. Please keep us informed as to your progress.

I'm confused about one thing though. You say you don't have access to a dock and that this is the first time you have had the boat on the water for such an extended period. To me that means you must keep your boat on a trailer, so I can't understand why it is sitting on a concrete ramp, suffering all that abuse.

If possible, please put it on the trailer to avoid any further abuse or possible vandalism. One problem with that is that the keel will be sitting on damp "carpet" but that's still a lot better than what it is undergoing now. Once it is on the trailer it will be impossible to get at the keel area so I'm guessing that's why you left it on the ramp? The least expensive (but still expensive) options I have found for getting the boat off the keel are two products offered by Jamestown Distributors. One is a lift system that attaches to the trailer. This lift only raises the boat about twelve inches, though, so that may not be high enough to work on it comfortably (you could remove the keel "tray" for better access). It is the least expensive ($600) of the two options and I think the most stable. Here's the link: http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=98161

The other is a ground-mounted system that allows you to move the trailer out from under the boat ($900). http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=59042 You will want to be sure the boat is very stable before working under the boat though. And with either system, remove all the ballast, the battery, and any other heavy items first.

If the links don't work the items to search for are the TotalBoat Trailer-Mounted Boat Lift and the TotalBoat Boat Lift System.

I hate doing advertising for any company but these are by far the cheapest solutions I have found. Perhaps if you do purchase one of these you could rent it out to those of us who might need it in the future and recoup some of your expense. Oh, and check out the "Centerboard of Doom!" posts for other suggestions on lifting the boat.
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby craig on Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:36 am

Dana: My post wasn't clear, sorry. I keep the boat on the trailer but have to leave the boat on the ramp while I park the car after dropping it in the water. The shore next to the ramp is rocky and would be worse than the concrete. It was my fault - I should have anticipated this launching problem and added many layers of fiberglass to the keel bottom.
Titania, launched January 2015
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby Bflat on Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:52 pm

It would be interesting to find out if the sealed chamber behind the nose block in the keel assembly has (or had) water in it. I know it has lead there, but still...
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby craig on Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:06 pm

Good question, hadn't thought about that. If my theory is correct there would have to be, but I didn't check.
Titania, launched January 2015
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby chaertl on Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:28 pm

Just a thought on getting at that area. When I was fixing the fiberglass on the Chucky B there this spring I unbolted the winch stand on the trailer and moved it up about two feet. Then winched the boat forward to get that section of the keel exposed so it could be worked on. When it was patched up my daughters boyfriend and I just pushed the boat back and moved the winch mount back to it's original position. Easier then removing the whole boat from the trailer.


Chris
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby JonLee on Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:00 pm

Try this one on for size...is there any chance that you sailed (or motored) with the centerboard inspection ports open, or (more insidiously) improperly sealed. You can get a lot of water in the bilge via open/improperly sealed centerboard trunk inspection ports.
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Re: How is this possible, and how can I fix it?

Postby DanaDCole on Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:20 am

It's midnight here so you can see how bugged I am about this. What kind of a lake would put in a concrete ramp with rocks on each side and no dock?! That means anyone who launches there has to have their boats beat up, the same as you. Is there any place further away where you can beach the boat on sand or mud? To me it would be worth a fairly long walk, although you might have some mad folks waiting to launch it is too far.

Otherwise, here are a couple ideas--these will get you wet, but better than damaging the boat. The methods I'm thinking about will work best if you have a folding step or folding ladder mounted on your transom. And you need to be pretty athletic.

There must be a stout post or tree near the ramp that you can tie up to. If not, insist that they install one or put one in yourself. Then if the wind is blowing at all offshore you can jump in the water before hitting any rocks, wade in, and tie the boat a little ways out where it won't be damaged (you'll need a pretty long rope). Then you can back the trailer down and use the rope to pull the boat to the trailer.

If the wind is blowing onshore you'll have to anchor it out a ways. The stern will be facing the shore so you can climb out over the transom. Back the trailer down to the water. Here's where it gets tricky (and nearly impossible if the wind is blowing too hard). If you have a motor you might be able to climb on board, start the motor (idling), then weigh anchor and quickly get back to the motor and drive onto the trailer. Another way, especially if the water stays shallow out a ways, is to wade out to the bow, pull up the anchor and use the rode to pull the boat in to the trailer.
If the wind is onshore and too hard, the only thing I can think of is to try to hail someone on shore who can hold onto the boat for you while you back the trailer down.

What a mess! Again, I don't understand why there is no dock. Is that a lake or the shore somewhere? If it's seashore there's not much you can do, but if it's a lake, complain loud and long and write letters to the local newspaper.

BTW, I sure hope JohLee is right about the inspection ports. That would be great!
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