Saturday, August 16, 2008


Cleared weep holes in engine room, 8/16/2008

Bingo! Finally solved a problem that has been driving me crazy for a long time. Since day 1 when we bought this boat, we've had an intermittent problem with water collecting between the two stringers along the starboard side of the engine, and collecting forward.

On some trips, we'd end up with a lot of water there. Other trips, none. Some weeks we'd leave it dry on Sunday night, and return Friday to find water there. Other times, we'd be gone for weeks, and it would be bone dry. Sometimes it tasted salty; other times it didn't. It has been a real puzzle for me to figure out where the water was coming from. But I knew it shouldn't be collecting and stagnating there. Here are pictures of the area I'm referring to:

Starboard side, looking forward: water collects around transducer

Starboard side, looking aft

A few possibilities I considered:
  • Engine cooling water leak, possibly through a zinc
  • Water pump leak
  • Sea spray through engine room vents during rough seas
  • Air conditioning through-hull leak
  • Depth transducer through-hull leak
It was not simply an annoyance of having to shop-vac out the water on a regular basis. The water would stagnate and start to smell, and even more importantly, it collected around the fairing block for the depth sounder, and was starting to deteriorate that wood.

Well, I finally crawled down in there to get a good look around. Lo-and-behold: There are weep holes in both the forward- and aft-ends of that area. The forward weep hole runs to the bilge, , and it was completely plugged with debris! I hadn't considered the possibility that the water was running to that spot by design; I had been stuck on the idea that, if water were supposed to be there, it would run aft, not forward. So, it turns out that water from the lazarette under the cockpit area was running through the aft weep hole, and collecting forward. Once I unplugged the forward weep hole, it disappeared into the bilge as it should.

Forward weep hole, drains to bilge

Aft weep hole, below muffler, lets water in from lazarette

There are at least three sources of the water, none of which were possibilities that I had previously considered.
  1. Rain water through the cockpit deck hatches
  2. Sea spray through the cockpit deck hatches
  3. Sea water coming in through our ever-leaking rudder post
That explains both the intermittent nature, and the mix of fresh- and salt-water.

Water through the deck hatches theoretically should drain out the transom. There's a small weep hole in the hatch channels that runs into a tube that goes aft. Unfortunately, those channels collect debris so fast that the hole often plugs, allowing some water into the lazarette. The rudder stuffing box is a work in progress. But now, at least, the water in the engine compartment finally disappears on its own.

As for the depth-sounder fairing block: I made a cardboard mold that fit around it, and filled it with penetrating epoxy, effectively soaking and encasing the entire block in epoxy. It's in good shape now, probably stronger than it ever was.

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