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Author Topic:   Where's the water coming from?
alkar posted 03-17-2003 02:21 PM ET (US)   Profile for alkar   Send Email to alkar  
Yesterday I removed some extraneous screws from the well immediately aft of my fuel tank. I don't know what their original purpose was, but they're serving no purpose now, so I decided to remove them and repair the holes.

The screws were up in the shelf-like area on either side of deep part of the well. Removing the first four screws was uneventful but, when I pulled the last two, water bubbled out of the screw holes. I bored the holes out to half-inch and, when I stepped into the well, the water cam out even faster. I'd say an ounce or two flowed out before it stopped. When I returned with a rag I stepped into the well and water flowed again; it was responsive to my weight, but I can't feel any flex in the floor at all. It seems very hard.

I drilled a small hole in the bottom immediately below the leaking screw holes and it's dry... Where's the water coming from? Where's the void?

I've stuck rolled shop towells in the new holes to expedidte evaporation - but I'm worried that'll take forever, and I want to put the boat back together in a few weeks.

I'm also worried about the fuel tank now. My boat is 14 years old and, if the fuel tank has been sitting in water, it's life expectancy is now VERY limited. Should I rip up the floor now too? Ugh...

diamondjj posted 03-17-2003 03:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for diamondjj    
I will let other, more experienced posters talk about ripping up the floor, but in the meantime, if you have a wet and dry vacuum like a shop vac, you might want to try putting the nozzle over the holes (if it fits) and sucking the water out.
JBCornwell posted 03-17-2003 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Ahoy, Alkar.

Is there some reason readers should know what boat you are talking about? I assume it is a Boston Whaler, but there is no more info than that.

Red sky at night. . .

alkar posted 03-17-2003 05:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
JB, you're right, of course. Sorry. It's a 1989 22' Outrage with whaler drive.
Tom W Clark posted 03-18-2003 11:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

So this is the bait well in the rear of your Outrage 22 we're talking about. If there were screws that were installed there without benefit of some sealant, it does not surprise me there is some water in the hull. (Side note: This is exactly the point where I think Boston Whaler does a HUGE disservice to their customers by stating plainly that their foam is closed cell foam and water absorption is not a concern. People interpret that to mean they do not need to seal screw holes in the hull. This was what I used to think as well. While I think we would all agree that Whaler foam is not a sponge, you sure as heck don't want an unsealed penetration anywhere that water can accumulate. Whaler has never been as blunt and candid as they should be about the importance of this and it's a shame.)

Whether the water is in the foam itself or in some void between the fiberglass and the foam may not really matter all that much.

If itís in the foam, you're not going to get it out very easily. If it's in a void or delamination, it will be easy to get out but then you would have to conclude there is some separation of 'glass and foam. I think what you are doing is about all you can do.

If the water is in a void then a vacuum will get it out quickly. But if itís in the foam, the paper towel trick is about as good as it gets unless you want to try some calcium chloride.

The gas tank is in whatever condition it is in regardless of whether you discovered water in the hull or not. The gas tank HAS been sitting in water for 14 years, make no mistake about it. That is the way the hull is designed. But the tank is on top of the hull not embedded in it, so water in the hull is a completely separate issue.

Iím not convinced that 14 years necessarily means the tank is shot. On the other hand if the boat is torn apart anyway, there may be an economy in dealing with it now, but I donít think you should dismiss the idea of saving that project for another day.

You do need to get the boat back in the water and enjoy it in order to maintain your enthusiasm for it and all future projects. Donít let yourself get bogged down. ALL boats need work done to them as time wears on.

alkar posted 03-18-2003 02:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
Thanks Tom. As you can imagine, this has been pretty unnerving. I have spent a HUGE amount of time and money on this boat. My heart bottomed-out when I found the water. It was a completely unexpected find - and the worst kind of surprise.

The water appears to be very localized. It's a mystery, because I would have expected gravity to collect the water in the bottom of the hull - but that's dry. I drilled a total of five 1/2 inch holes in the hull in low spots and only one of them was wet. The hole immediately under the bait well was bone-dry.

The anal part of me wants to just start cutting and grinding until I get everything uncovered so I can rebuild it all from scratch, but I'm running low on money. I'd also like to use the boat.

On the other hand, sealing the holes up with the water still in the boat seems like a bad plan (like sheet-rocking over a rotten section of wall).

I'm not sure what I'll do. I guess I'll go stare at it some more.

hooter posted 03-18-2003 05:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for hooter    
Love that "go stare at it some more" solution. Boy, can Ah relate! From an original anal-from-birth take this from me, you haulin' around a pound or two of water in that pretty hull is'nt goin' to ruin any damn thing about the boat, and shouldn't affect your peace of mind, either. Sounds like you've determined the problem t'be localized and likely explained by some slight delamination. Try lightly tappin' the area with a ball ping hammer t'see if any change in sound helps locate the void, mebbe, for some additional peace of mind. Like the others say, just hit the weepy hole with a shop vac and seal those holes up pretty. Then go have fun.
alkar posted 03-18-2003 11:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
Thanks for the perspective Hooter and Tom. I'm going to try to follow your advice.
mustang7nh posted 03-26-2003 08:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for mustang7nh  Send Email to mustang7nh     

You mentioned that the tank has been in water. Are there drains for the fuel tank area? The only connection in my 1988 Outrage to the bilge is via fuel lines, there are no ports that I know of.


larimore posted 03-26-2003 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for larimore  Send Email to larimore     
I had the same exact problem, check this post out:

John from Madison CT posted 03-26-2003 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for John from Madison CT  Send Email to John from Madison CT     

I'm hoping you can expand on your comment that Alkar's gas tank has been sitting in water for 14 years.

Based on the tank cavity contruction, I have to agree with you. Once water enters in their, it has not mean of escaping.

If I understand things right, on a 22' Outrage at least, the rear bait well is adjacent to the gas tank. If you drilled into the bulkhead wall from the baitwell, toward the front you would hit the tank. I was wondering if it would a prudent to put in a drain there, with a plug. This could possibly keep water from sitting in the foam filled cavity with no place to go. What do you think ?

John from Madison, CT

Tom W Clark posted 03-26-2003 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I mean that these tanks are in contact with water because they are not sealed from the bilge but rather are, for all intents and purposes, a part of it.

The part of the Whaler design that I have never understood the the fact that, as you note, there is no drain for the fuel tank area of the hull. If water gets over the "dam" that separates the fuel tank cavity from the sump, then the water is there to stay, and water WILL get over that dam.

I never had the floor up on my Outrage 18 but I know there was quite a volume of space down there to hold water. While the tanks may be foamed in place, there is still room in the rigging tunnels and elsewhere for water to reside. This is why I learned very quickly to not leave the drain plug out on that boat. If I did, the boat would take quite a bit longer to plane as all the water down here had to drain out.

I do not believe the foam surrounding the tank fills the space completely. As a result, water comes into contact with the tank. (see concurrent discussion of aluminum tanks on the General section : )

I have often wondered if it would not be better if there were a drain to allow water drain out of the fuel tank cavity. While it would get wet under normal operation, it would at least dry out when the bilge was emptied.

Jim Bennett posted 03-26-2003 11:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jim Bennett  Send Email to Jim Bennett     
With regard to Tom Clarks suggestion, see the approach I used which I just posted in the "aluminum fuel tank" thread in the General Forum
mustang7nh posted 03-27-2003 09:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for mustang7nh  Send Email to mustang7nh     
When I hear the stories of people find water in their hulls, I get somewhat dishearten as I think, rightly or wrongly, it is the big concern for me as a Whaler owner. But I wonder if in some of these circumstances if the water found is really negligle. While water weighs about 8lbs a gallon, a gallon would seem to me to be a lot of volume for a small area to contain. Even if you sucked out a gallon, it was only 8 pounds extra.

Has anyone every done some calculations to figure out in theory how much cubic volume of foam is contained in a particular classic outrage and then extrapolate the amount of water it can contain? It seems that the experiments with foam suggest that the water has to be forced in and it doesn't wick well. Hence, I would think that alot of the foam in the hull above the waterline would stay dry under most conditions of water intrusion anyway. More simply, for the vast majority of us, practically speaking, is the water in the hull issue much to do about nothing?

Florida15 posted 03-27-2003 10:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for Florida15  Send Email to Florida15     
The way I look at it is that imperfections
are the price you pay for owning a classic.
If you want perfect, go buy new. I don't think my hull has any water in it but I didn't buy it new so there is no way of knowing how previous owners treated it in the 14 years before I bought it. I'm not going to worry about it. Now, if something became obvious like water flowing out of a screw hole or top speed becoming 12 mph, sure something needs to be done. Until then, I'm just going to enjoy owning a classic.

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